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Gort - Some Aspects.

  • King Guaire: King of Connacht c. 655

  • Had two residences - Kinvara and Gort

  • Noted for generosity - Guaire an Oinigh. Had one arm longer than the other from almsgiving!

  • Story of Seanchan Torpest, chief poet of Ireland.  Brought to Gort 150 learned men, 150 pupils with a corresponding number of women, servants and dogs.  Guaire entertained them for a year and a month in most lavish style.

  • Guaire was a cousin of St. Colman.


  • Descendants of King Guaire. had three residences: Gort, Fiddane and Ardamullivane.
  • Sir Dermot O'Shaughnessy knighted by King Henry VIII.  Sir Dermot had a visit from the Lord Deputy in 1559: we dined at O'Shaneshie's house.....for such a dinner or the like of it, was not seen in any irishman's house before
  • 1651: Gort Castle attacked by the Cromwellian Ludlow.  The castle occupied the site of the later military barrack. Now a store.
  • 1691:  Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy was the last chief to reside in Gort.  His only son and heir went to France with the Wild Geese.

Prendergast/Prendergast-Smyth/Lord Gort

  • Thomas Prendergast was granted the O'Shaughnessy estates. His grandnephew was known as John Prendergast-Smyth. He became Baron Kiltartan in 1810 and the first Lord Gort in 1816. He died the folowing year after the completion of Lough Cutra Castle.
  • Baron Kiltartan lived in Bridge House, now the Convent of Mercy. It is probably the oldest inhabited building in Gort. Mentioned by a tourist named Beaufort in 1787. The date 1771 appears on the Gort Bridge and , perhaps, the house was built around that time. The Sisters of Mercy came to Gort in 1857. After it was vacated by Lord Gort, it was used at various times as a police barrack, a doctor's residence and an auxiliary workhouse during the Great Famine in the late 1840s.

Development of the town

  • The present town of Gort dates from about the middle of the eighteenth century. There was a Market House at the Square. In 1752 Pococke called Gort a very poor market town, like a village. Forty years later Bowden says it was a miserable village
  • At the beginning of the nineteenth century Wilson called it a dirty straggling town but can boast of a few good houses.
  • But, two years later, in 1817, Trotter describes it as a neat , modern town.
  • Pigot's Directory, 1824 ,  admits that it was a small improving town and said it was remarkably clean.
  • Leases were given from about this time, e.g. Avenue House (behind the Post Office in 2012) . Prendergast-Smyth and his successors laid down strict conditions as regards the building and architecture, e.g.Glynns,  where the present A.I.B. is situated. Notice how all the roofs are the same height. This necessitated the building of steps on the Eastern side of the Square. Incidentally, the Square is not really a square!
  • The main road from Ennis came through Tubber and in to Gort by what is now Church St.  In fact, in the oldest maps of the town, the area from about the Town Hall to the Square was known as Main St, Gort.   The houses from the Church to the Square are among the oldest in the town.  Bridge St. was built in the 1820s and 1830s.  It is claimed that the houses were built facing what is now the Canon Quinn Park.
  • Some of the main public buildings date back to the early 1800s:  The Library, formerly the Church of Ireland, 1810;  The Courthouse, 1815;  Bridewell, c. 1820;  Catholic Church, 1828;  Town Hall, formerly the National School, 1847; Workhouse 1841.

Trades and Business

  • Gort had a reputation of being a good market town.
  • 1840 List:  13 hatters;  3 tallow chandlers; 2 wheelwrights;  32 tailors;  13 blacksmiths;  23 nailers (e.g. Piggott and Gibbs);  38 brogue makers;  32 boot and shoemakers;  8 weavers;  8 calico shops;  13 butchers;  1 confectioner;  10 bakers;  2 pawnbrokers;  4 coopers;  1 coffin-maker;  33 hucksters;  1 tobacco manufacturer; 1 miller, 15 grocers;  19 carpenters;  5 masons;  31 public houses;  1 hair-dresser;  2 lawyers;  1 hotel;  2 mail-coach offices (Keane's and Forrest's)/Bianconi;  22 lodging houses.
  • The coming of the railway in 1869 caused the decline of many of the manual trades. The train brought ready-made goods to the town. Easier transport.

Larger industries

  • Malt Houses/Breweries: Native beer-houses were established around 1794 when the Irish Parliament removed taxes from beer. Some Gort Breweries from 1800:-
  • O'Flanagan's Brew House, at the back of what is The Brazilian Emporio in 2012.
  • Dillon's Malt House, at theback of the houses in the Square between Boland's Lane and Sullivan's Hotel.
  • Lahiff's Tanyard at the back of Gort Medical Centre.
  • Flour Mill owned by Butlers/Mngans/Hynes.
  • Hotels: Hynes/Forrest/Lally/Sullivan. Later, Glynns at the Square and Glynn's Commercial Hotel, Bridge St.
  • Schools: Private or Hedge Schools before the Famine. National School 1847;  Convent Schools 1858; Industrial Department of Convent School from the 1870s.

The Great Famine: 1845-1850. Workhouse opened in 1841. Built to accommodate 500 people. Overcrowded during the Famine.

Address Gort, County Galway, Ireland
Parish(es) Gort Kilmacduagh And Kiltartan (Galway)
Category (ies) Heritage/Culture Religion Tourist Attraction