Mayo: birthplace of some great men and women

Mayo people have made a name for themselves at home in Ireland and in every corner of the world.

Some of the greatest have built international reputations, and have come to symbolise the achievements of Mayo people the world over.

Mary Robinson

Mary RobinsonAn internationally-renowned champion of human rights, and Ireland’s first female President, she literally shone a light out to the Irish diaspora. Her career in the UN as well as her earlier career as an academic and Senator have been marked by a commitment to the rights of the vulnerable and the marginalised. The 2016 opening of The Mary Robinson Centre, Ireland’s first Presidential Archive, in her home town of Ballina cements further her connections with home, and her fearless advocacy places her in the front rank of a great Mayo tradition.

Michael Davitt

Michael DavittAnother fearless advocate and international champion of human rights – and an emigrant himself – was undoubtedly the person who did more to change the material conditions of the people of Mayo than anyone before, and arguably since. His writings and leadership are rightly celebrated the world over. You can find out more about this amazing man’s life in the Michael Davitt Museum, located in his home village of Straide.

Grace O’Malley

Is remembered as a great Chieftain and sea-captain, who built an impressive empire along our west coast, and whose career is a tale of adventure more exciting than any from fiction. Her story has inspired many and continues to fascinate. Her fortresses dot the coastline and a visit to Westport House will allow you to learn more about her and her legacy.

Monsignor James Horan

Is remembered primarily as the man who built Knock Airport (now Ireland West Airport Knock), but his achievements and legacy were greater than this. That said, connecting the diaspora with home and creating an unrivalled platform for development and progress in the county is in itself an achievement worthy of recognition.  A visit to Knock will allow you to appreciate the legacy of the man and the enormous contribution he made to this famous pilgrim centre.  You can also visit his simple grave, located discreetly at the back of the Basilica he helped build.

Monsignor Horan

Among many others:Enda Kenny

  • Admiral William Brown, the founder of the Argentine Navy and a son of Foxford
  • Martin Sheridan, of Bohola, winner of five Olympic gold medals
  • Enda Kenny TD, Taoiseach and the first TD from Mayo to hold that office
  • George Augustus Moore, novelist, writer, poet, and deeply associated with the great Irish Literary Revival
  • Professor John O’Keefe, neuroscientist, and 2014 Nobel prize winner

Tell us what you think

There have been many great Mayo people at home and away. Who would you include on this list? We would like to hear from you as to who else you think deserves inclusion.


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