Early Ecclesiastical Enclosure at Farburren

This age-old ecclesiastical site is located in the parish of Oughaval, which is approximately 5 km from Westport in Co. Mayo. It is owned privately. It is not located on the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail and cannot be seen from the trail, but the terraced plain below has a wonderful view of Westport Quay and Clew Bay (Michigan State University, 2009). Tochar Phadraig—the millenia-old route going from Ballintubber Abbey to Croagh Patrick—runs around 2 km to the south of the enclosure (Joyce, 1999, p 87). The parish and an abbey (also known as a monastery or a church) were founded by Columban monks in the 7th Century, quite close to Cloonpatrick (also known as St. Patrick’s Meadow). Cloonpatrick is where St. Patrick founded a church and it is said that the early ecclesiastical site replaced St. Patrick’s church (Michigan State University, 2009), (Joyce, 1999, p 87). It is said that St. Patrick founded his church at that particular location because of its proximity to the local ruling family. The first mention in history of the ruling family of the area is the O’Malleys, who were descendants of King Brian of Connacht (Michigan State University, 2009)—and later on, the famed Mayo pirate queen, Grace O’ Malley (Royal Museums Greenwich, n.d.)


  1. Joyce, B. (1999). ‘Early Ecclesiastical Site at Farburren, Parish of Oughaval, Co. Mayo.’ Cathair na Mart: Journal of the Westport Historical Society. Journal 19. p 87.

  2. Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Ecclesiastical Enclosure. Internal Report: Folder 4, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.

  3. Royal Museums Greenwich (Date Unknown). Grace O’Malley: The Pirate Queen of Ireland. Available at: https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/topics/grace-o-malley-irish-female-pirate (Accessed 13th of January, 2023).