Mountbellew is situated in pleasant countryside with many agreeable walks. It was originally part of the old Bellew estate and the history of Mountbellew is deeply influenced by this family, and many of the amenities of the present town are legacies of their presence.
In the square is the very fine equestrian statue of Bobbyjo. This is the work of the noted Galway sculptor John Coll and was erected in 2002 as part of the Millennium celebrations and to commemorate the life of the racehorse Bobbyjo, owned and reared by the Burke family of Mullaghmore near Moylough. Bobbyjo, after being reared by Eugene Burke on the farm, was handed over to Tommy Carberry for training. It was his son, Paul, who rode him to victory in the Grand National at Aintree in April 1999. This ended a 24 year drought of Irish winners at the National. Not only that, but the winner of the 1975 race, on L'Escargot, was Tommy Carberry himself!
The Bellew Demesne
The Griffiths Valuation map of 1855 shows a well-wooded estate and today there is a pleasant wood with a picnic area, very popular in summer, on the grounds of the old demesne, which also contains a deerpark in the old walled garden. Some fine old walls remain, but the site of the house itself is hard to discern. It was pulled down in the late thirties and the stone used for road building. The wood itself is a sanctuary for birds and animals and Coillte has an office there a striking building designed with advice from Duncan Stewart, with red timber walls and a curving slate roof. Many kinds of wildlife including wild mink, red squirrels, bats, badgers, otters and rabbits as well as various kinds of duck such as the widgeon, teal and mallard live in Mountbellew Forest.
The Demesne extends all the way from the western end of the town to the Catholic church, St. Mary's, at the east and part of the grounds is taken up with a lake containing a bird sanctuary. There are several small islands in the lake and dances used to be held on one of these during the last century to raise money for the annual agricultural show. The water is frequented by swans and other birds. A frequent visitor is the heron which can often be seen flying over the river and lake. Its rather Victorian, Tennysonian atmosphere will appeal to many.
The Forge Museum
Another item from those days is the 200 year old forge of the estate. This has now been doubled in size, with the help of FAS, and contains exhibits of the old forge equipment such as a huge bellows and anvil, Bobbyjo's horseshoe, old farm implements, and an ancient flat bottomed wooden boat a thousand years old recovered from near Eskerstephens graveyard. It is well worth a visit just to wonder at the size of the old bellows used in the forge and the hefty wooden and metal machinery - simply churning the milk would require some strength. By contrast, the dugout boat is a delicate thing, its oak shell (hollowed out from a single tree trunk) barely an inch thick in most places.
Hours of opening are Sunday in the summer months 3-5pm.
Mountbellew Vintage Club If you have any curiosity about old machines and the development of technology, whether in motor cars, engines or farming gear, this is the club to join. For the past few years it has held a very successful show in the grounds of the Mountbellew Regional Co-Op Mart. In the space of just a few years this has become a very well organised production and a lively addition to the Vintage community.
Because of its schools Mountbellew has a popular sports scene, with the Soccer, GAA and Camogie particularly well represented.
Mountbellew/Moylough GAA Grounds is situated just outside Mountbellew town on the Tuam Road. The club was founded in 1932. It has produced many great footballers who have served Galway with great pride over the years, most notably Enda Colleran, Johnny Hughes, Fergal Gavin, Val Daly and Joe Bergin'
Shiven Rovers is located close to the neighbouring village of Newbridge on the Athlone Road see website:
Mountbellew Annual Agricultural Show is held on the 2nd Saturday of September in the grounds of the Agricultural College. Agricultural produce and arts and crafts are exhibited. This show celebrated its centenary in 2004 and its longevity is due to its important place in the local calendar.
All details and schedules available from Secretary at 085 7606000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on facebook
Mountbellew caters for all interests whether it be sport, arts, community work or cultural activities. There are many lively societies including clubs for badminton, bridge, salsa dancing, keep fit, drama (the very successful and prizewinning Malthouse Players), GAA, the No Name Club and Tiger Junior Special Olympics Club and several others.
Mountbellew is twinned with Elliant in Brittany and was host to Ecuador for the Special Olympics.
Mountbellew & District Active Retirement Association
Active Retirement Ireland is a voluntary organisation for actively retired people with a national membership of 25,000 and 500 local associations. Mountbellew & District ARA was set up in 2005 and now has over 80 members. It meets on the first Monday of every month at 8.00 p.m. in the Pastoral Centre Mountbellew. Members take part in various activities such as bridge, swimming, aqua aerobics, yoga, crochet and art. They have also set up a very active bowling club which play in Mountbellew Community Centre every Monday morning. A social sub-committee organises trips to the theatre in Galway and Roscommon as well as summer and autumn outings to different parts of the country.