The original Linen Hall was built in 1790 by Lord Lucan, Castlebar’s principal landlord, as a clearing house for the flax and linen produced in the region and also as a storehouse for looms and tools. Mayo was one of the largest producers of flax in Ireland and the linen industry provided a regular and stable income for the many linen producers in the county.
The Linen Hall building itself must have been one of the most substantial and imposing buildings in Castlebar, reflecting the importance of the flax and linen trade to the area.
The grey limestone blocks in the facade have a sturdiness and air of permanence about them, but surely even General Humbert - who held his victory celebrations here following The Races of Castlebar in 1798 - could not have imagined that the building would still ring to the sound of music, dance and celebration two hundred years on.
The Arts Centre
The Linenhall Arts Centre started Life in 1976 as the Education Centre located in the old Methodist Church on the Mall in Castlebar. It was funded by the Department of Education and set up as a pilot project to take temporary exhibitions from the important collections in the National Museum, the National Gallery and the National Library.
Quite quickly the Centre also began to develop its own programme of exhibitions, theatre, music and cinema, focusing on the contemporary arts and bringing quality performances into the area.
In 1986 the Centre moved to its present home in the Linen Hall. When the pilot project was reviewed a commitment was made to continue providing an arts service and in 1990 the Arts Council came on board to fund the newly formed Linenhall Arts Centre.