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  [Grainne O'Malley - Pirate Queen]  

For 200 years this country estate was home to a branch of the O'Donel family, descended from the fighting Earls of Tyrconnell and cousins of the famous 'Red Hugh' of Irish history. They were transplanted from Ulster to Mayo by Oliver Cromwell.

During the first half of the Nineteenth Century the Cathach, the 'Battle Book of the O'Donels' was kept in Newport House. Part of a copy of the Book of Psalms dating from abut 560 AD, it is believed to be the actual handiwork of St Columbcille - Columba of Iona - who was himself a price of the O'Donels; its name derives from the legend that when carried into battle it brought victory to this family. In 1691 an O'Donel who had fought at Limerick took it with him into exile in France, and a century later it was found and brought back to Sir Neal O'Donel of Newport. His grandson deposited it in the Royal Irish Academy.

The names of the O'Donels are to be found on the Army Rolls of Europe and America, and the last heir of this branch Captain George Frederick Thomas O'Donel, Military Cross and Mons Star was killed at Ypres in 1915.

Between the first and second World Wars a party of anglers used to assemble every year at Holyhead and travel thence to Ireland and the fishing of Co Mayo. Among them was the late Henry Mumford-Smith, who came occasionally to Newport.

He formed a desire to return permanently to the scene of so much sport and friendly association; and this hope was realised in 1945 when Newport House and its fishery were put up for sale by the Irish American owner, who had purchased them from the widow of Captain O'Donel. He found a colourful house retaining the mellowness of gracious times, and he filled hard happy years in restoring the estate and fishery for a new purpose. This work was continued by his son the late Francis Mumford-Smith and wife Eleanor.

In 1985 the estate was purchased by Kieran and Thelma Thompson, the present owners, who have opened their home to guests thus enabling others to experience the atmosphere, the elegance and the hospitality afforded by such an historic Country House.





Newport House
Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland