The National Enterprise Town Awards: Castlebar

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Castlebar in Co Mayo.

Castlebar is the administrative centre of County Mayo and is also home to a number of large companies that employ many people in the area. The population of Castlebar stands at 10,826 inside its urban boundaries with its environs bringing this up to circa 12,000.

Castlebar is a town steeped in history and has played a major part in some of the most pivotal events in Irish history including the 1798 Rising, which incorporated ‘The Races of Castlebar’ and The Land War.

The development of the town goes back to 1609 when Sir John Bingham of the Bingham family obtained the grant of a market and fair and four years later King James 1 granted a charter of incorporation. However, Castlebar is named after De Barrie, one of the Normans who came to Mayo and established a Castle in this area in 1235.

Castlebar is traditionally a market town, and it is still a major destination for shoppers from all over the west of Ireland. It boasts an increasing number of national and international chain stores, and several new shopping areas have been developed in the past 10–12 years on what were considered the outskirts of the town.

Following the economic downturn in 2008, Castlebar as a business town was brought to its knees. Its three hotels either closed or fell into receivership, family businesses closed their doors after trading for generations and some of the main building contractors ceased trading and being key employers. With the collaboration of interest groups, mostly voluntary, and building on a foundation of key amenities in the town, namely a campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and the Country Life section of the National Museum of Ireland, the town battled its way to a road of recovery which is still a work in progress.

Local companies were encouraged to expand and grow with the Local Enterprise Office offering training, funding and support to help make local business more efficient.

This growth in Castlebar is being further driven by the appointment of environmental and planning consultants, who are developing a plan around the joint development of the towns of Castlebar and Westport. The key objective is to develop a feasibility strategy combining the joint development of both growth centres into a focal point, to attract foreign direct investment and employment in the region.

These initiatives were put in place and driven by local groups and committees like the chamber of commerce, Love Castlebar, Visit Castlebar, Castlebar Tidy Towns Committee and the various other groups. A tourism office is also open in the town that provides a central meeting place for these groups.

The total number of jobs located within Castlebar is 9,045 and accounts for 3.7% of all jobs located within the west region (247,712). Of all cities and towns in Ireland, Castlebar has the 17th highest number of jobs located within the town boundary and accounts for 23.6% of all jobs located within County Mayo.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 9 September, 2019

Image: Shutterstock