(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.
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.
noted for, among other things, one of its fine families, that of
Gene Tunney, the heavey weight champion of the world who defeated
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
To the west lies
Clew Bay with its castles and memories of the great Irish pirate and
sea captain, Grace
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.
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".
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!