Infrastructural boom following Nephin landslide

18th July 1829
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PUBLIC WORKS (IRELAND). REPORT MR. NINMO ON THE WESTERN DISTRICT. 1828

COUNTY MAYO

The Erris road is the principal work in hand in the county of Mayo: is nearly 60 miles in extent, and has been opened the public for several years, forming the only inlet to the extensive peninsula of Erris we have since kept it general state repair and gradual improvement. 

In the month of June last a sudden water-spout fell on the district south-west of Nephin Mountains, bringing down trees hay, masses of bog, and gravel, to a most surprising extent, into the lake of Beltra. The river of Genesland was raised fifteen feet above its usual level, glutted and carried off the bridge of Bunavan, although substantially built on solid rock ; those also at Beltra, Gregeen, and Glencastle about twenty feet span, were destroyed, besides several smaller arches; they are now all restored, with exception of Beltra, which I had to put off for a season, but have replaced ad interim by a ford, so to maintain the communication. Four houses at this place were swept away one person's life, and much property, cattle, potatoes and furniture, lost. I have cleared the road and river-courses that were choked with gravel, etc. and made the new bridges of greater waterway; most them had been built the county presentment before took charge of the line. 

The improvement in the country laid open by this road continues to proceed rapidly. After passing the Nephin range we come out the great bog plain of Tyrawly; and here are first struck with the operations of Mr James Nolan, who has a large tract of the waste near the Deel river, and in less than three years has built substantial farmhouse and offices; has thirteen stacks of corn from this reclaimed bog this year in his yard, and proceeds rapidly with improvements reclaiming, draining, and planting. 

At the large bridge of Corrick I find a comfortable inn just completed, and considerable agricultural improvement all through the glen to Bangor and Belmullet, and various branch roads made into the neighbouring farm-villages, most of which the lands heretofore held common are being enclosed and laid under crop. Belimillct the advance is quite surprising: this place only commenced four years ago; it now counts about seventy respectable houses, two or three genteel cottages, with inclosures planted with trees, etc. 

I gave in former report return the commencement of its mercantile transactions, and subjoin few particulars the business done last year, which the rapid progress of, agriculture may also be perceived. 

  • Mr Ivers loaded five ships; exported 500 tons of grain, 12 tons of kelp, etc. ; imported 85 tons salt, 13 tons of rod and other iron, six tons of metal, 150 bundles of hoops, 20 tons of coal for kilns, made and sold 19 boats, orders for 40 more, and in progress expended in building £1,300. He is also postmaster and stamp-office keeper, and states that the receipts are wonderfully increasing; and one fact, viz. newspapers coming weekly to his office, is itself convincing proof of the state the country has arrived to. 
  • Mr Davis sold £900 worth of wine and spirits ; £700 of oats, and £450 on hands; bought and sold £1,000 of shop-goods, iron, leather, tea, sugars. etc. etc.; made and sold eighteen boats, five more building; ended in building £300. 
  • Mr Reilly bought sixty tons of oats, and £100 worth of hides, and £2,000 worth of shop-goods.
  • Mr Casey, (only built this year) bought twenty-six tons grain, shop goods, and in building £300. 
  • Mr Minahan, £180 for spirits and beer, £300 or cloths and calicoes, and in building. 
  • Mr Scott, £300 for spirts and beer. 
  • Mr, Loftus, £300 ditto ditto. 
  • Mr Jordan, six tons of oats, eleven on hands, besides building, etc etc. 

Mr Ivers mentions, that on his commencing in 1823 he could not get 100 tons of grain to buy in the country; now, by the communications opened, he and the other dealers can buy 2,000 tons. 

The activity of the coast guard and revenue, have done much towards the suppression of smuggling, and of course to the increase of agricultural export; and the good order and example shown by the coast-guard, have done much to improve the habits of the country people; there is still, however, in the districts not pervaded by the roads, a good deal of illicit distillation.

Binghamstown continues to advance, though not remarkably which is too near, and has not the advantages of situation; it now counts 111 houses roofed, twenty-three unfinished.  At  Tarmon Pier, the extremity of the line, the coast-guard have formed a kind little town, and from this place carts frequently were met going with herrings all the way to Castlebar. 

Nothing could so effectually extend to the suppression of smuggling in this district than the completing the roads along the eastern side of Blacksodbog, and on the north coast from Broadhaven to Killala.  These lines have been obliged allow to stand over, for the reasons before given, but from what has already been done on the Killala side much benefit has accrued; the village of Ballycashel is assuming quite a new appearance, and at Belderrig, to which there is now access by horse, a little town is rising, with some shops already in existence; the population, crowded heretofore in the narrow valleys, are fast settling along the new line. 

KILALLA TO SWINFORD

From to Ballina, Foxford, and Swinford, an excellent new road of thirty feet wide, made with stone, was opened and delivered to the care of the commissioners for those roads two years ago. l am sorry to find that the plan of repair adopted, viz., contract, at much per lineal perch, is not likely attended with public advantage; the contract, though taken in low price, has been sub-let still lower, and, as might naturally be expected, this most important line is getting into disorder, and its stock materials rapidly diminishing. 

I have not been able get at the particulars of the increase of trade in Ballina and Killala since the opening of this line, but all accounts agree that it has been very great, and must have been attended with proportional increase to agriculture in the interior; the great extension of buildings, especially and Ballina, are a manifest of the importance of this communication.