Mountrath probably derives its name from a fort in Redcastle about a mile and a half on the eastern side of the present town. The Irish name is Moin Ratha - meaning "the fort in the bog." There was at one time a castle and fort in Redcastle - faint signs of which can still be seen today. The land in this area was very boggy. On a very early map of Mountrath from 1659, the town is designated by a few houses situated on a stream - the White Horse River. By that date the town was over thirty years old as it was founded in 1628 by Charles Coote.

By 1750 the town had developed along the winding path of the river in the shadow of the Big House in Newpark - the home of the Earls of Mountrath. The town by then was a thriving industrial place with its own woolen and linen industries, ironworks, grain and rape mills and a little later its own brewery and distillery. The Quaker community was a very important element in the local industrial enterprises and they had their graveyard in the town - the remains of which is now sadly but an overgrown ruin. Mountrath was also an important market town with its beautiful market house, dating from the early-18th century, dominating the square. It was here that fairs and markets were held where farmers sold their cattle, sheep and horses to pay the landlord his rents and the clergy their tithes.

By the early-19th century the town had achieved the shape and structure that it possesses today. Shannon Street and Coote Street were laid out at this time. It then had its own R.I.C. barracks; the Brigidines and Patricians had their own schools; there were churches too - Methodist, Quaker, Church of Ireland and Catholic; and a Court of Petty Sessions was there also. Coote Terrace, with its Georgian houses where Coote's agents lived, was by then the fashionable living quarters of the wealthy Protestants. As the century progressed, so too did the commercial life of the main street with its shops and pubs, bakeries and linen drapers, bootmakers and hotels.

previousPrevious - Quakers
Next - Ballyfin Housenext