Gort (Irish: Gort Inse Guaire or An Gort) is a town in south County Galway in the
west of Ireland. An Gort is the official Irish name for the town, as defined by the
Placenames Commission. In spoken Irish, however, the town is known by its traditional
name Gort Inse Guaire. It lies just north of the border with County Clare on the
main N18 Galway–Limerick road. Gort is situated in the territory of Uí Fiachrach
Aidhne also known as Maigh Aidhne ("the plain of Aidhne"), which is coextensive with
the diocese of Kilmacduagh / Cill Mhic Dhuach.
Gort takes its name, Gort Inse Guaire, from gort (a meadow), "inse" (island) and
Guaire Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, the sixth century King of Connacht and patron of
St. Colman MacDuagh. During the Middle Ages the chiefs of Cenél Áeda na hEchtge,
the O'Shaughnessys (Ó Seachnasaigh, a clan descended from Guaire Aidhneach) had their
principal stronghold in Gort, on a site which later became a cavalry barracks. At
the end of the seventeenth century the O'Shaughnessy lands were confiscated and granted
to Sir Thomas Prendergast, 1st Baronet, whose grandson was John Prendergast Smyth,
1st Viscount Gort. In 1831, the town had a population of 3,627 and 563 houses. The
Great Hunger of the mid-1840s devastated the population.
A number of historic sites around Gort are included in the Sites and Monuments Record.
Kilmacduagh monastery and round tower are situated approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) west
of Gort. Rahaly Castle lies approximately 4.8 km (3 mi) east of Gort.
The poet William Butler Yeats renovated an old tower house near the village (Thoor
Ballylee) and took up residence there. He was also a frequent visitor to the home
of Lady Gregory at nearby Coole Park. Coole Park is located just off the Galway Road,
just 1 km from the town of Gort.
Some 40% of the residents of Gort are non-Irish, according to the 2006 Census, a
massive majority of these being Brazilians. These people originally came to work
in the meat processing plants in Gort where the pay is generally much higher than
in similar plants in Brazil. According to Claire Healy "a large community of Brazilians
now live, work and attend school in Gort, gradually altering the appearance and the
character of the town". The Roman Catholic Church caters to the Brazilian community
with a mass in Portuguese every Sunday held in Gort Catholic Church.