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John F. O'Riordan -
In His Own Words
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(Belderrig, located on the North Coast of Mayo between Ballina and Belmullet.)
Mayo In His Own Words

John's final post to the AOL Irish Heritage Message Boards

Mayo (plane of the Yew trees) is the most beautiful and most mysterious of all Irish counties. There are more "little people" under the hills of Mayo than in all the rest of Ireland. The very worst and the very best of Irish history has taken place in or around Mayo. Its county seat is Castlebar (Barry's Castle) although its largest city is Ballina.

Mayo's River Moy which starts on the south side of the Ox Mountains continues around the mountain and north to Killala Bay ("Year of the French" by Thomas Flanagan). The Moy runs right next to the town of Ballina and is one of the great salmon rivers of the world.

In southern Mayo the shrine to Our Lady of Knock is a basilica where the Pope said Mass and an international airport was built to bring visitors from all over the world. Nearby is the town of Kiltimagh a place of fairy rings and fields that are not to be trod on.The town historian is Jerry Walsh who operates the Raftery Room pub and restaurant in commemoration of the blind poet, Anthony Raftery who was exiled from Mayo for riding a landlord's horse to death.

Kiltimagh is noted for, among other things, one of its fine families, that of
Gene Tunney, the heavey weight champion of the world who defeated Jack Dempsey.

To the west of Ballina is the great egg shaped mountain, Nephin. To the south of Nephin is the holy mountain where St. Patrick fasted for forty days and where thousands come to pilgrimage. Near there is the great castle of West Port reconstructed by the Guinness family. Nearby is the small town of Cong where much of the movie "The Quiet Man" was filmed.

To the west lies Clew Bay with its castles and memories of the great Irish pirate and sea captain, Grace O'Malley.

To the north of Clew Bay lies Achill Island, the largest island off the coast of Ireland. Achill Island with its "famine houses" and breathtaking views of the Atlantic coast of Ireland is visited both as a vacation site and for historic interest.

Northwestern Mayo, while boggy and sparse, was one of the areas most heavily affected by the famine, hence many, many immigrants to America and other parts of the Irish diaspora. It was here west of Ballina that John Millington Synge laid the setting for "The Playboy of the Western World".

The Ceide Fields have recently uncovered the evidence of five thousand year of farms in the area north of Ballina.

Come to Mayo. It will change forever your views and knowledge of Irish history and language and put a bloom to your cheeks.

PS - The English, in interpreting the geographical notes of Dr. John Donovan, misinterpreted the Irish word for "storms" for the word "ox" therefore, the mountains south of Ballina to Bonnyconnelan are really the mountains of the storms.

God Bless Mayo!

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