Located on the Main Street of Castlebar, The Humbert Inn premises have excelled in its hospitality to the public for over 200 years. Its name was derived from the fact that the French General Jean Humbert with his second in command General Sarrazin located their headquarters within the building during the United Irishmen rebellion of 1798. Originally until 1912 due to rates purposes, the premises also consisted of what is known today as Paddy Fahey’s shop and over the years has been used as hotel, restaurant and public house. In 1798 the site of Paddy Fahey’s and the Humbert Inn was known as Geevy’s Hotel. A banquet was held there after the 1798 Rising and it was in The Humbert Inn premises, that John Moore was declared first President of Connaught! The public bar as seen to-day is unique in appearance with its interior rough cut stone walls, arches, Liscannor stone floor and a façade that has changed little over the past fifty years.
The Humbert Inn Castlebar on 29 August 2006
The premises has changed hands many times over the years, more recent owners including Tom Coucil, the Moran family and since 1994 John Connaughton, more popularly known as 'John Humbert'. While memories aplenty abound about The Humbert Inn with many instances of people today stating that they are the third generation of their family to call into The Humbert.
Its lasting legacy will be an outstanding and legendary venue for all that is musical. The Humbert Inn has been long associated with encouraging local musicians and providing the public with a steady stream of talent. Everything from traditional sessions to Industrial Rock has been catered for, everything from one guitar, 6 piece bands to many DJs have enthralled weekly audiences! In many cases their audience trying for a pint, while singing and dancing at the same time. Always a multi-talented bunch, The Humbert regulars!
The most historically famous of these bands will be 'General Humbert' consisting of Steve Dunford (bodhran, bones), John Donegan (mandolin, harmonium), Ruairi Somers (uileann pipes, tin whistles, bagpipes), Shay Kavanagh (guitar, bouzouki) and one Miss Mary Black (vocals, bodhran) from approx 1972 until 1982. Mary Black’s brother Mick was working with the then P&T in Castlebar, he along with his brother Shay informed a group of Humbert musicians including, John Hoban and Frank O’Reilly, that he 'had a sister that could sing a bit (brotherly understatement) and would they be interested if she sang with them'. Mary Black may have received her first taste of success with 'General Humbert' in the ‘70s and recorded her first album in 1982. But, along with playing venues in Dublin, she started out singing in Castlebar with traditional group 'La Salle' which included John Dunford and Fintan Murphy within The Humbert a good ten years before her international success. A valiant attempt was made to bring about a reunion before The Humbert’s closure, but it transpired that due to committments, at least six months notice would be required and this is being considered in the future.
Since then other Humbert bands have received fame through recording contracts including 'Smile' who won best demo recording through Hotpress Magazine and who came second in Magpie Magazines best new band competition in 2002 out of sixty other bands. Also there is 'Curlisduane' who have two CDs to their credit, Denis McCalmount with two CDs, many more bands who have released four track CDs and Sligo band 'The Marbles' who went on to international success.
The Humbert Inn has played host to many local bands including Catherine Maguire, 'Ellie’s Wrath', 'Electric Messiah', 'Hurricane Blue', Impure Thoughts', 'Nemesis', the cleverly named 'No Hot Ashes', 'Livid', Palatic', 'The Phase', 'Purge', 'Seven', 'Uncle Fuzz' with a memorable Mick Sheridan, 'Ward 9', to name a few. Travelling bands included, 'April Snow', 'Dark Season', Fester Lewis, 'Onion Junkies' 'Powder Keg', 'Risky Business' with Foxford’s Pa Roache, 'Rhythm King', 'Strange Brew', Mall River Band', 'Piston Slappers', Teresa Duffy, Joanne Keegan, Tanya Nally, Noel Golden, Jason Kearney, Tommy Berry and Luke Davis among them. Local DJs covered everything from commercial music to Soul, these included Sandra Concannon, John Gleeson, Jason King (always sadly missed), John Costello, Damien Keane, Dave Barry and Mickie Horkan. The Humbert also proved a popular venue during the annual highly successful June Bank Holiday Blues Festival with international bands like 'Juke Joints', 'Honey Boy Hickling', 'Rollo Markee' and 'The Winchesters' to name a few.
Including its reputation for fine food and drink, The Humbert Inn was also a venue during the 'Festival of the Senses', numerous Snugboro and Breaffy Lotto nights, The Humbert raised thousands to aid cancer suffers through the fund raising of Helena Connaughton and was a home from home for many Galway GAA supporters travelling to Castlebar, who received a warm welcome due to John Connaughton’s roots in Williamstown, while both the Mayo and Galway flags were hung from outside of The Humbert to greet all. Not forgetting its legendary Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentines Day and Halloween decorations which always added to the atmosphere of each and every holiday get together. Christmas in particular was always memorable in The Humbert, it was a major home coming venue and meeting place. If you were brought up in Castlebar, were of a certain age, then chances were there was one of two places you would have been found on Christmas Eve, The Humbert or Rays!. The Humbert Inn can also boast its very own VIP list among its regulars with two crowned Roses of Tralee Mindy O’Sullivan and Aoibhinn Ni Shulleabhain along with Fair City actress Vicky Burke. Plus any number of quality customers, musicians, fine sportsmen and women, business people and the odd politician.
Sadly when John and Helena Connaughton took over The Humbert in 1994, no one could have foreseen that Helena would pass away in October 2004. Her picture proudly stands within the bar that she so tirelessly worked in, her beautiful smile, ever present laugh and gentle ways will always be remembered by those who had the honour to meet with or work with her.
Fate had decided a different path for The Humbert and further to this an offer to buy the premises by a local developer was accepted. This has resulted in the developer’s decision to convert the building into retail outlets and apartments, thereby no longer retaining the premises two hundred year reign in the hospitality trade. This decision by the Developer has been met with anger, dismay and disbelief by many people in Castlebar! Proof of this can be seen on the Castlebar.ie website, whose Bulletin Board frequently receives postings regarding The Humbert Inn closure, including those from Castlebar immigrants. Public opinion has stated a desire to at least retain the look of the existing bar, possibly using same as a restaurant, wine bar, part of the Linenhall for exhibitions or even as a Tourist Office However, the general consensus is an overall request that The Humbert Inn remains a public bar while recognising the logic in upper floor apartment conversion. The future of The Humbert has been proposed by the developer, but it is the present planning section of the Town Council who will ultimately decide this historic buildings fate as rumours abound of its possible demolition!
What ever the future holds for The Humbert Inn, its last weekend under the command of General John Connaughton will be a musical filled celebration which John has requested to end quietly on its last closing time on Sunday 3rd September. Which is curiously the same date that Humbert and his men left The Humbert Inn premises in 1798! It will be an emotional time for both punters, staff and owner, an end of an era no matter what the future holds, so it is important that it is understood that the bar will be closing promptly on the last night.
Kicking off the weekend, the bands 'HammerDuck' and 'What's New Pussycat' along with guests will be playing from 9.30pm on Thursday 31st of August.
Friday 1st September has yet to be decided but will commence at 10.00pm, so keep an eye on the legendary Humbert's front window!
Saturday September 2nd sees a music rollercoaster with:
8.00 - Dennis McCalmont
8.35 - Liebido
9.10 - Joker Mouse
9.50 - Lee & Con (Alternative Route)
10.30 - Furious George
11.10 - Curlisduane
11.55 - Vinyl (Jagged Rocks)
Sunday 3rd September will commence with a Traditional session from 6pm to 8pm featuring local musicians including The Kilkenny Brothers, Bernard Joyce, Zane Joyce and others. Followed by, an acoustic session with a mixture of local and Westport musicians until 9pm. The night ends with The Humbert Legends Frank Durcan and Noel Davitt, complete with guests and the last ever performance of the mythical 'Humbert Gospel Choir'.
Both John Connaughton and his Sister-in-Law Kate Hegarty, wish to sincerely thank all their staff and customers who have supported them over the past 12 years. They wish you all the very best for the future and appreciate your providing wonderful memories of the past. No doubt all who have called into The Humbert over the years either for food, drink, music or just a chat, will wish them the same and all will be familiar with the words on a piece of Humbert memorabilia hanging in the bar courtesy of artist Alan Geraghty,
'The Humbert Inn, The Way Things Should Be!'
More Photos taken early morning 29 August 2006