Our Irish Women - Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Our Irish Women - Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Our Irish Women - Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo' page

Mrs Bridie Mulloy

By Averil Staunton

“The place that lacks its ghosts is a barren place” John Hewitt

Long before modern technology and digital devices arrived, Bridie Mulloy (Nee Gunning 1919-2009) lived and worked in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

Born at Ballindoon, Co Sligo, Bridie has an early curiosity about folklore, which developed into a lifelong interest; years later she spent many hours walking and talking to the Ballinrobe community collecting stories, tall-tales, events and photographs, while writing them down over many evenings in long-hand.  

She had excellent experience at eliciting the most interesting stories a national competition for school teachers in the 30s, invited entrants to submit an example of their work to the National Folklore Commission; Bridie was successful and eventually submitted 21 manuscripts to Irish Folklore Department.

She and her husband Tony, an Achill man, who had been Principal of the Ballinrobe Vocational School (d 2008) ran a very popular guest house in Ballinrobe, giving a warm welcome to their guests and provided delicious food; no wonder they were booked out so often with guests like Pat Wallace and George Burrows.

A pioneer of the farm guesthouse movement Bridie worked as an Irish Farm Guesthouse Advisor travelling all over Ireland in the 60s. She got to know and had lasting relationships with many Irish women from diverse backgrounds who were setting up their own small business across Ireland.

She became a regular contributor to local and national newspapers and magazines with her contributions including projects for the Farmer’s Journal, Woman’s Way, and the Irish Countrywoman. Her monologues have featured on RTE and Mid-West Radio.

Bridie also wrote poetry and her book  drew  its inspiration from a wide range of subjects and sources, including The Lazy Old River Robe [see below], The Scolding Wife, Christmas Night and The Meitheal.

Bridie died on 10th October 2009 at the Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar and left behind paintings, which still adorn its corridors.

We are lucky here in Ballinrobe that Bridie generously shared her talents with us as many now enjoy hours of reminiscences through her popular book Itchy Feet and Thirsty Work, a social history of the Ballinrobe area

Her history of The Restoration of the Ballinrobe Priory resulted in the visit of President Mary Robinson to Ballinrobe on July 28, 1994 to launch the restoration of that ancient Abbey. We are grateful for her legacies here in Ballinrobe. 

May she rest in peace.

This grand old Mayo town

By Bridie Mulloy

There is a wealth of history within our ancient town

Ballinrobe in by-gone days was a seat of high renown

Its story’s told in walls of stone some ruined and ivy green

But graceful arch and fine façade stand proudly to be seen

By those who cherish craft and skill and customs handed down

By the forbearers of the folk who live in this grand old Mayo town


The poor and old are cared for now just as in days of yore

When the friars at their Abbey kept for all an open door

And old friends who come to fish on island studded Mask

Throw care away as day by day in beauteous peace they bask

The Europeans as can be seen we welcome as our own

And the yanks all love to linger in this grand old Mayo town.


This page was added by Averil Staunton on 31/07/2018.