THE MAYO diaspora both in Scotland and throughout the world will, once again, have cause to celebrate this month as they join with the inhabitants of the Heather County in marking Mayo Day.
The day of celebration takes place on May 1 and is set aside to recognise County Mayo, its people and all things Mayo in true Irish style.
Mayo is the first county in Ireland to dedicate a day to its own name and the day itself will celebrate, in a special way, the heritage, culture, achievements, diaspora and community spirit of Mayo people everywhere.
There are an estimated 3.5 million people worldwide with connections to the beautiful west of Ireland county, including the likes of US President Joe Biden, Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame and Sally Rooney, author of hit TV drama Normal People. Proud, loyal to home, fiercely passionate about their origins and with the green and red county colours running through their veins, Mayo people are scattered far and wide around the globe.
The third largest county in Ireland is, again, having to go fully online with its celebrations this year, but with an emphasis on people and places, the outstanding programme of events will reflect the remarkable community spirit of Mayo and can be viewed from anywhere around the globe.
Highlights for this the seventh year of Mayo Day include an hour-long flagship TV programme to be broadcast on the evening of May 1 on Irish channel TG4— available online and through its on-demand service TG4 Player in Ireland and beyond. The TV extravaganza will feature the best Mayo music and culture, conversation and craic, as well as showcasing the incomparable beauty of the county that sits in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Guest appearances are expected from the Mayo diaspora in every corner of the planet and even beyond, with aeronautical engineer Norah Patten due to drop by. Mayo natives talking about their lives abroad will include Andrew Walsh, a professional chef who runs three restaurants in Singapore, and Dr Lisa Ní Chuinneagáin, a flight doctor located in the UK. Mary O’Halloran will provide tales from New York, where she owns Irish pub Mary O’s. There will be chat with photographer Fergus Sweeney about Blacksod Lighthouse and the programme will head along the Lost Valley and sample local produce on the county’s Gourmet Greenway.
The standard of musical performances will be exceptional, with Matt Molloy of The Chieftains fame joining with his good friend, harpist and TG4 Gradam Ceoil recipient Laoise Kelly on her new composition in honour of Mayo Day called Fling Mhaigh Eo. Also appearing will be folk band Billow Wood and country star on the rise Chantelle Padden, who recently appeared on ITV’s hit series The Voice UK. London-based Mayo native and seven-time time all-Ireland harp and banjo winner Lisa Canny will provide an exclusive performance of her new track Medicine on Mayo Day.
Having lived in different countries and through a global pandemic, for the first time in many years brothers David and Kieran Munnelly will perform together on the Mayo Day programme. The box player and flautist play their musical instruments with a flair that is rare to come across. Tom Doherty, who comes from a musical Mayo family, will perform with his four daughters on the TG4 show. Tom’s music is featured on numerous television recordings and CDs and he has double all-Ireland titles on the concertina and melodion.
Wild and rugged, County Mayo is renowned for being one of the most picturesque parts of the island of Ireland. Its large expanse offers amazing scenery, ample space to explore an unspoilt natural environment, and plenty of things to do.
Among its attractions is the 42km Great Western Greenway, an off-road trail following an old railway line from the beautiful heritage town of Westport to Achill Island. Ideal for Mayo walking and cycling adventures, it will take you through historic towns, ancient archaeological artefacts and a series of breath-taking views.
For those interested in climbing the famous Mayo landmark of Croagh Patrick—Ireland’s holy mountain—the reward is an unbeatable vista over Clew Bay and its 365 islands. But you can also enjoy the landscape from the comfort of a car by taking the Louisburgh to Leenane route. Rarely seen in guidebooks, it packs a scenic Mayo punch that will leave you in awe.
In northern Mayo, the Erris Peninsula is renowned for its authentic balance of nature, culture, activity, wildness and beauty. Here you will find the oldest rocks in Ireland, some 1.8 billion years old, in spots along the coast, while the Céide Fields, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, can also be explored. A visitor centre here unpacks the amazing geology, archaeology, botany and wildlife of this unique Neolithic landscape.
North Mayo also boasts Downpatrick Head, which is home to incredible scenery and a walk here will bring you to the giant sea stack of Dún Briste, one of the most striking landmarks and photo opportunities of the Wild Atlantic Way.
For film buffs, the Mayo village of Cong will be instantly recognisable. Very little has changed since The Quiet Man, the much-loved 1952 movie starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was filmed there. The Quiet Man Museum and walking tours of the film locations are a must.
For an experience of Mayo traditions and culture, Achill Island, where the Irish language is still spoken, is a great choice. Though accessible by a land bridge the island still has that place apart feel and offers pristine beaches, craggy cliffs and scattered villages that offer the true Irish welcome not just on Mayo Day, but on every day of the year.
Wherever you go in Mayo though and whatever you choose to do you’ll enjoy an unforgettable experience—as its inhabitants and diaspora will tell you—so why not whet your appetite and get involved with the Mayo Day celebrations?