Castlebar, Co. Mayo

A county town in the West of Ireland, it was visited by John Wesley 14 times between 1756 and 1789. In 1763 it was one of the first seven circuits into which the Irish societies were divided. It covered the whole province of Connacht and neighbouring counties and took the itinerant six weeks to visit all the societies and keep his appointments, with only three days in the circuit town. It has the only chapel in Ireland of which Wesley laid the foundation stone (in 1785). Work there ceased in 1959; the chapel was leased, and sold in 1992.


John Wesley's Journal:

June 1756: [Sunday] 'The rector having left word that I should have the use of the church, I preached there morning and afternoon, to such a congregation as (they said) was never there before; and surely the word of God had fre course; I saw not one light or inattentive hearer. Mr. Walsh afterward preached in the sessions-house, to another large and serious congregation. And Tuesday the 29th, being St. Pter's Day, I read prayers and preached to as large a congregation as on Sunday.'

May 1760: 'We rode to Castlebar, where I preached in the evening. I was particularly concerned for the poor backsliders. It seemed as if most of us said in our hearts, "If they have a mind to go to hell, let them go." Not so; rather let us pluck the "brands", willing or unwilling, "out of the burning".

[Sunday}: 'Mr. Ellison [the rector] desired me to assist him at the Lord's Supper.

[Tuesday] 'To hear [a "remarkable trial"] all the gentlemen of the county were come to Castlebar. It was to be heard in the court-house, where I preached; so they met an hour sooner, and heard the sermon first. Who knows but even some of these may be found of Him they sought not?'

June 1760: 'We had a very large congregation at Castlerbar in the evening; and many seemed almost persuaded to be Christians.'

May 1762: '… in the evening I preached my farewell sermon to a numerous congregation.'

June 1765: 'I preached at Castlebar on "the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ." I found another kind of people here than at Sligo, and was much refreshed among them.

{Sunday] 'Most of the gentry in the town being at the courtyard in the evening, my text was, "We preach Christ crucified, toi the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness." I know not that ever I spake more plain, though I supposed many would be offended. But I was mistaken; high and low seemed to approve; some, I hope, profited.'

May 1767: 'Between six and seven I began preaching in the court-house; but few of the rich were there. Many of these dare not hear me above once: they find it is playing with edged tools. Many of the poor were present at five in the morning, and many more, both rich and poor, in the evening. And "the power of the Lord was present to heal"; but how many rejected His "counsel against themselves"?'

May 1769: 'I dined at Sir C[harles] B[ingham]'s, who asked me if it would be convenient for me to give them a sermon in his hall. We sent to the court-house, and the people who were waiting there came up without delay. The family were in the parlour, the bulk of the congregation in the hall and the long passage. Wednesday the 10th I preached in the court-house on "Put on the whole armour of God"…'

May 1771: 'Observing many fashionable people in the court-house at Castlebar, I spoke with such closeness and pungency as I cannot do but at some peculiar seasons. It is indeed the gift of God, and cannot be attained by all the efforts of nature and art united.'

June 2 [Sunday]: 'In the evening I expounded the Gospel for the day - the story of Dives and Lazarus. And now God opened both my mouth and the hearts of the hearers. His word seemed to take fast hold of them, even of the gay and rich, many of whom had wandered in among us.'

May 1773 [Sunday]: 'I preached in the Grand Jury room, morning and evening, to a lovely congregation, whose hearts seemed to be as melting wax.'

May 1778: 'In the evening we came to Castlebar, and had a lively congregation in the evening. Here we found the same spirit as at Limerick, and solemnly rejoiced in God our Saviour.

[Next day, Sunday]: Although the weather was rough and boisterous, the people flocked at nine from all quarters, Papists and Protestants; and God sent down a gracious rain, especially upon the backsliders. In the evening the court-house was exceedingly crowded, and the fire of love ran from heart to heart.'

May 1785: 'Here I generally find a welcome reception. Almost all the inhabitants here love us well, and believe the Methodists are good men.'

May 1787 {Sunday]: 'We went straight to church. I preached at five in our new house; I think larger than that at Limerick, and thoroughly filled with as attentive a congregation as any I have seen in the kingdom.

[Next day] 'Little misunderstandings between themselves have continually hindered the work of God in this society. This morning I heard the contending parties face to face, and once more made them friends. A numerous congregation listened with all attention, in the evening, to that important word of our Lord, "Whosoever shall do the will of God, the sme is My brother, and My sister, and My mother." '

  • John Wesley, Journal

Entry written by: DALC
Category: Place
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