Mayo: A haven for artists, writers and musicians

The Arts consist of a wide range of artistic disciplines

celebrating mayo the arts

Mayo’s lively and exciting Arts scene is at the heart of life in the county. The experiences of our diaspora, and the collaborations with artists with Mayo connections all over the world, have enriched the county’s artistic heritage and the range of its endeavour.

A breath-taking range and diversity

There is so much going on in the Arts scene in Mayo, both historically and in the here and now, that it is impossible to capture it all.

We provide you with a flavour below only to whet the appetite and to encourage you to get involved and make connections.

Mayo has been deeply enriched by its traditional music. The Harp has long been associated with Ireland and with Mayo – and its playing, along with the accordion and the fiddle, are the cornerstones of the traditional music scene in Mayo.

All forms of singing and of course, piping, are other great aspects of that tradition – and you will find Pipe bands all over the county, providing the musical backdrop to St. Patrick’s Day, to great festivals and of course, for football matches also.

Mayo’s long tradition of writing and poetry reached perhaps its greatest era in the 18th and early 19th centuries when the likes of Anthony Raftery, Tomás Ó Caiside and Riocard Bairéad were active.

Raftery is perhaps the greatest of the writers in the Bardic tradition from the county.  From Killeadan, just outside Kiltimagh, Raftery is well known to all as the writer of the famous ‘Cill Aodáin’ and ‘Mise Raifteirí an File’, among others. His work and legacy were given much exposure by Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland, who spent much time in Mayo and other counties gathering the rich literary heritage of these areas and publicising them.

The writing tradition in the county continues to develop as can be seen by the news that Eimear McBride, who was raised in Castlebar and Tubbercurry, has recently won multiple awards for her debut novel, ‘A Girl is a Half Formed Thing’.

Mayo has long been a setting for many films and TV programmes – the natural beauty of the county acting as a draw for those film-makers in search of dramatic surroundings, work made easier today by the great work of Film Mayo. Among many famous films and TV programmes made in Mayo have been The Quiet Man, Ballroom of Romance, The Year of the French and the adaptation of John McGahern’s classic novel, Amongst Women.

Traditional dancing, photography, painting, drama and sculpture are all well-represented in the contemporary arts scene in Mayo.

Public Art has been a major imperative in the development of the county and you can check out the outstanding range of projects and initiatives at Mayo County Council Arts Office.

Famous figures from The Arts

Mayo has many famous figures from the world of the Arts who are from or associated with the county. Some of these figures include:

  • Margaret Burke-Sheridan – Opera singer
  • Ernie O’Malley – Revolutionary and writer
  • Mick Lally – Actor
  • George Augustus Moore – Novelist, writer, poet
  • Paul Durcan – Poet
  • Edward Delaney – Sculptor

The future of the Arts in Mayo is bright:

  • In 2014, 16 year old Claremorris student, Shania McDonagh, won the overall prize at the Texaco Children’s Art competition for this outstanding work
  • Also in 2014, four young people from Mayo impressed in a national poetry competition organised by Poetry Ireland

And it isn’t just people from Mayo who are part of our artistic heritage - Paul Henry, Heinrich Böll and John Lennon are just some of the names who have come to Mayo and found inspiration in the surroundings. Come and visit and be similarly inspired!

Arts Centres

Mayo has a wide number of arts centres around the country. You can find listings of their events and exhibitions here.

These fantastic centres are complemented and enhanced by a variety of galleries, museums, exhibition centres and public art located right throughout the country.

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