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Ballymacgibbon House,

County Mayo

Documenting our Heritage

Ballymacgibbon derives its name from the Mac Gibbon family who once occupied a castle on this site. The Ballymacgibbon lands were acquired by John Browne, a Colonel in the Jacobite army, who was at the siege of Limerick, and who later built Westport House, in Westport, County Mayo.


Colonel Browne and his creditors' trustees sold the lands of Ballymacgibbon to Edward Fynn of Shrule, County Mayo, in September 1699 for £243 (about Euro 800,000 in today's money). The Fynn family built Ballymacgibbon House, which remained their home for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. By 1844 the family had inserted an L to their name becoming, Flynn, and they held four townlands in the parish of Cong.


About the year 1814, Amelia Flynn married Thomas Wills Wilde. Their son, William Robert Wills Wilde, born in 1815, became Ireland's leading oto-ophthalmologic (ear and eye) surgeon, he was Surgeon-Oculist to Queen Victoria, and was knighted in 1864 for his services as medical adviser.


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Sir William Wilde



In 1854 his son, Oscar Wilde, the famous writer and poet was born in Dublin. In 1862, William Wilde purchased 170 acres of the Ballymacgibbon estate, where he built Moytura House and it was here that Oscar Wilde spent all his summers until his early twenties.

Oscar Wilde


Today Moytura House still stands in fine condition and was at one time owned by The Edge (U2).


The long abandoned Ballymacgibbon House, however, survives only as a collapsing ivy covered ruin.


Nearby is the Ballymacgibbon Cairn. Probably containing a Neolithic passage tomb, the cairn measures about 30 metres in diameter, 10 metres in height and is constructed mainly of limestone rocks. It has never been excavated so what lies beneath the rocks remains a mystery. Sir William Wilde wrote that the cairn was erected to celebrate the Battle of Moytura, where the two ancient tribes of Ireland, the Tuatha de Danann and the Firbolgs fought. After the first days battle, victory lay with the Firbolgs. Their king, Eochaid, ordered his men to bring a stone and the head of an enemy to erect Ballymacgibbon Cairn as a memorial of their triumph. In the following four days, however, the Firbolgs were defeated with 100,000 of them killed, including King Eochaid.



This article is the copyright of Tarquin Blake, Abandoned Ireland, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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