Louisburgh town lies in the Southwest corner of County Mayo. It is bounded by the sea on three sides - to the North by Clew Bay with its vistas of the mountains of Achill and Erris - to the West by the Wild Atlantic and the islands of CLare, Inisturk and Caher - to the Southwest by Ireland's only fjord, the Killary Harbour sheltering in the shadow of Mweelrea mountan and the Connemara Bens beyond. The great Phalanx of the Sheefrey mountains grace the skyline eastwards until it joins with Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain.
The original name of the district in the Irish language was lar-Umhal, this being the western portion of the O'Malley Clan, - ie, the territory of the O'Malley Clan, the "Lords of the Owles". Under feudal law the area became a Barony named after Murrisk, the site of an Augustinian Abbey founded by the O'Malleys in 1457. The Barony of Murrisk remains the official name in law.
The district now takes its name in English from the town of Louisburgh founded by the Browne family of Westport House circa 1796. By popular useage, the town itself is called Cluain Cearbain in the Irish language by virtue of its situation in the townland of that name, meaning "The meadow of the Buttercups".
St. Catherine's (Church of Ireland) was built in 1798 and the Glebe House in 1826. The first house built still stands and is, by tradition, the venue of the last Brehon court to be held in the area. The Catholic Church, St. Patrick's, was completed in 1862.
The district contains the parish of Kilgeever and the half parishes of Killeen and Lecanvey. The name of Kilgeever (in Irish Cill Ghaobhar) refers to a ruinous medieval church in the townland of that name. It occurs in English documents in various guises such as Kilgonir, Kyllgayuayr, Kilavower and Kilikeevor. The ruins is most likely, a replacement for an earlier cell or "cill" associated with St Patrick's pilgrimage to Croaghpatrick. Nearby is a blessed well called "Tobar Ri an Domhnaigh" - ie, - "The Well of the King of Sunday" at which staions are performed at certain times of the year. The name Kilgeever has topographical connotations such as the "near church" or the "windy church". However local tradition holds that it was founded by a disciple of a disciple of Saint Patrick called Mac Iomhair - hence the version Cill Mhic Iomhair or St. Ivor's church. The English version Killikeevor mentioned above would seem to validate this.
History of the Louisburgh area
History for the Louisburgh area of County Mayo
Farming, which has traditionally been the predominent occupation in the locality, consists of cattle and sheep rearing and some dairying. In recent years there has been an expansion in the amount of land under forest. The waters of Killary Harbour and Clew Bay are proving eminently suitable for new developements in various forms of mariculture which will compliment the more traditional fishing methods. The growth of light industry has been very successful, based as it is on modern technology and geared to the export market. These developments are having an increasingly beneficial effect on the economy.
However, the magnificent scenery of this region in its unspoilt, natural state, remains its single greatest resource. Tasteful development of this resource means that the appreciative visitor can enjoy a leisurely and health-giving sojourn amongst a friendly and kindly people who value and preserve the rich heritage of their county Mayo forefathers.