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Belmullet or Béal an Mhuirthead is a coastal Gaeltacht town with a population of around 1,000 on the Mullet Peninsula in the barony of Erris, County Mayo, Ireland. It is the commercial and cultural heart of the barony of Erris, which has a population of almost 10,000.Belmullet has two bays, Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay, linked by Carter's Canal running through the town.HistoryThe origin of the name Belmullet is not clear. It may have come from Irish Béal Muileat or Béal an Mhuileat, which has been translated as "mouth of the isthmus". Bernard O'Hara in Mayo: Aspects of its Heritage suggests that "A change from 'L' to 'R', which is quite common in Irish, may have given Béal an Mhuireat which in turn became Béal an Mhuirhead". It has also been suggested that the latter half of the name may refer to the fish or the star shape used in heraldry.18th centuryAccording to Richard Pococke, in about 1715, Sir Arthur Shaen "began building a little town" where Belmullet now stands. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, an admiral chased pirates into Broadhaven Bay, hauled his boats across the isthmus, and caught up with them near the Iniskea Islands. To drain the area and form a passageway from Blacksod Bay into Broadhaven Bay, Shaen had a canal excavated, known thereafter as Shaen's Cut, large enough for small boats to pass through from one bay to the other. However, little development of the town occurred, and by 1752 the canal was choked up and impassable. Belmullet was the scene of Monster meetings of the Land League at the end of the 19th century. In the early 19th century Belmullet consisted of little more than a few thatched buildings.Use our Ireland trip builder app to arrange your visit to Belmullet and any other destinations in Ireland that take your fancy.
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