Emigration from Mayo
Irish history has been marked by great waves of emigration. As a country our population has been more than halved by emigration over time. Mayo was one of the counties worst affected by emigration in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Between 1841 and 1851 the population declined from 388,887 to 274,830 and has continued to fall ever since. It was only towards the end of the twentieth century that the decline was halted and the numbers began to increase. Today with a population of 130,507 Mayo is a prosperous and vibrant county, but its turbulent history is preserved in the archives of Mayo County Library.
The letters sent home by Irish emigrants were investigated in an EU funded project entitled EMILE (Early EMIgrant LEtter) project in 2005. The project aimed to document the immense flow of emigration to America from 1820 to 1920 by comparing and contrasting the experiences of European emigrants through the letters they sent home. These letters are a vital part of Europe’s common history and can shed light on an era of great impact on both Europe and America. Participants in the project included museums and libraries in Sweden, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic with Mayo County Library representing Ireland.
Various aspects of emigration from Ireland and Mayo, in particular, can be investigated below.