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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described by Samuel Lewis in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" 1837.

FOXFORD, a market and post-town, in the parish of Toomore, barony of Gallen, county of Mayo, and province of Connaught, 8 miles (S.) from Ballina, and 132(N.W.by W.) from Dublin, on the river Moy, and on the road from Ballina to Swinford; containing 1068 inhabitants, and consisting of 209 houses indifferently built.

  • The Irish, or Celtic, term for Foxford is Belass, signifying the '' mouth of a cataract.''
  • During the disturbances of 1798, when the French, under Gen. Humbert, on abandoning Castlebar, passed with his army through the town, on his route to Sligo.
  • It is a place of very great antiquity, and was formerly the key of Tyrawley; from it, the district, which extends a considerable distance, even into the adjoining county of Galway, takes its name: it is mostly surrounded by a chain of high mountains.

The beautiful river Moy, which in its course receives the principal waters of the county of Mayo, until it discharges itself into the sea at Ballina, runs through the town, where it is crossed by a very ancient bridge of several arches, now in a state of decay.

By the dissolution of the Linen Board, 140 looms in this town and neighbourhood were thrown out of employment; the only trade carried on is in corn.

The market is on May 15th, June 25th, Oct 3rd, and Dec. 10th. There is a market and court-house, where petty sessions are held on alternate Fridays; a constabulary police station, and an infantry barracks.

This place is remarkable for the longevity of the inhabitants, being considered one of the healthiest spots in this or any of the adjoining counties.

In the town stand the parish church and an R.C. chapel; and there are two public schools.

About three miles distant, on the Castlebar road, are the ruins of an extensive monastery, still inhabited by a solitary individual of the order, and according to as one dies his place is supplied by another.

At a ford, a little below the town is a huge rock, called Cromwell's rock, where it is stated the Protector's army crossed the Moy, during the civil war. A few years since, whilst the streets were undergoing some repairs, a deep pit was sunk at the corner of the main street, to raise gravel, on which occasion a great number of human skulls and skeletons was dug up, evidently indicating the scene of some battle.


SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)

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