History Of Swinford
The first mention of the town of Swinford was in the 1778 publication of Taylor & Skinner Maps of the roads of Ireland. There are various interpretations as to the origin of the name. The literal translation of Swineford or Beal Athal na Muica is the ‘mouth of the ford of the pigs’. In Pigot’s Direction of 1824, there is a mention of a large Pig Market in the town. However, another interpretation is that the Brabazons named the town after a town also called Swinford in England.
In a survey of 1838, the town was described as being located West of the Swinford, half-mile North of Brabazon Park and let to 19 occupying tenants, 7 of whom were Protestants and the remainder Catholics. Names mentioned were Mellett’s, Kelly’s and Henry’s. All the tenants had leases from Brabazon of 999 years at a yearly rent of about 50 shillings. Tuesday was Market Day and a Fair was held five times per annum.
The Brabazon Family built the Town of Swinford in the latter part of the 18th Century. They were responsible for the expansion of the town and were responsible for many developments eg. The WorkHouse for the Famine victims, the erection of the Protestant Church and the establishment of the first Post Office and the Courthouse. The family house was located in the grounds of what is now Aras Attracta, a residential centre for the mentally handicapped.
The Mellett and Brabazon Families are part of the long heritage of the town of Swinford. The Deerpark was part of the Mellett Family estate up until the year 1952 when it was compulsory acquired by the Land Commission and subdivided amongst local farmers. The family still talk fondly of the haymaking and the Swinford Races, all of which could be strategically viewed from ‘The Grandstand’. The Grandstand was a natural plateau in the Deerpark and was removed as part of the construction of the new Swinford By-Pass N5.
Swinford is now one of the leading towns in the West of Ireland and is acknowledged as the capital town of East Mayo. Swinford is renowned for its fishing waters, in particular the Callow lakes which yield excellent brown trout. Swinford is also within close proximity of the great fishing lakes of Conn and Cullin. A superb 9-hole golf course is one of Swinford’s finest features and is located in Brabazon Park, near the town centre. Adjacent to the golf Course is a tennis court and MUGA facility and a Community Centre where a range of sporting activities takes place. Swinford hosts one of the County’s largest summer festivals, Siamsa Sraide Swinford (Fun in the Streets of Swinford). This Street Festival takes place annually over the August Bank Holiday Weekend and highlights include Open Air Dancing to some of Ireland’s well-known bands, Heritage Day and an International Busking Competition.