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Mayo People A-Z

Important Mayo people from history

Mayo has produced more than its fair share of people who played important roles in national and world events. The library holds the following items in hard copy relating to our most important persons:

  • Michael Davitt (1846-1906) complete works and related biographical and historical material
  • George Moore (1852-1933) literary works, related biographical and critical material
  • George A. Birmingham (1865-1950) collected literary works.

For biographies on the above-mentioned please see

This section of our website contains information on most notable Mayo people. It is abstracted from Mayo Library's local studies reference material including information taken from the rare A Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography by John S. Crone, M.R.I.A. published in 1928. Additional articles are included on some historical figures taken from local newspapers and journals.

The Mayo people listing is organized by surname - please select a person of interest: 


AMBROSE, ELEANOR, Lady Palmer, a celebrated beauty; b. Dublin about 1720; daughter of Michael Ambrose, a brewer; shone at Court of Lord Chesterfield who addressed some well-known lines to her;  married Roger Palmer, M.P. for Mayo, 1752, who was created Bart. 1777; d.Dublin, 1818.

ARBUTHNOT, SIR ALEXANDER JOHN,  Indian official and author; b. Farmhill, Co. Mayo, 1822; d. London 1907; ed. Rugby and Haileybury; director of public instruction Madras;  vice-chancellor, Calcutta University;  acting governor, 1872; K.C.S.I., 1873; opposed aggressive Afghan policy, and retired, 1889.

ARBUTHNOT, CHARLES, diplomatist and politician; b. Rockfleet, Co. Mayo, 1767; M.P. for several pocket boroughs; ambassador at Constantinople, 1804; filled various political offices;  lived with Duke of Wellington, in whose house he died 1850.

ARBUTHNOT, SIR CHARLES GEORGE, general; b. Farmhill, Mayo, 1824; d.London, 1899; ed. Rugby and Woolwich; entered Royal Artillery, 1843, served in Crimea, commissioner-in-chief, Bombay and Madras; succeeded Roberts in command in Burmah, 1887; G.C.G., 1894.

ARBUTHNOT, SIR ROBERT, lieutenant-general; b. Rockfleet Mayo 1773; entered army as cornet, 1797; served in many lands; K.C.B., 1815.  (“Few officers have taken part in so many general actions.”  -  D.N.B.)  d. 1853.

ARBUTHNOT, SIR THOMAS, lieutenant-general; b. Rockfleet, Mayo 1776; brother of above; entered army, 1794; served in Peninsula, Cape, and West Indies; K.C.B., 1815; d. 1849.

ARCHDEACON, MATTHEW, novelist; b. Castlebar about 1800, and kept an academy there; wrote four excellent novels depicting his own folk, their legends, and stories of ’98, taken from the lips of participators; d. 1853.

ARTHUR, REV. WILLIAM, Wesleyan missionary and biographer; b. Newport, Mayo, 1819; laboured in India and France; principal of Methodist College, Belfast, 1868-71; wrote many religious and biographical works; d. Cannes 1901.

Baines, Thomas O'Malley (1844–99), Fenian, born near Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. 

BOURKE, CANON ULICK, Irish revivalist; b. Co. Galway, 1829; ed. St. Jarlath’s and Maynooth; published, College Irish Grammar 1856; prof. of Irish, St. Jarlath’s; had special fount of type cast for his use in Tuam News and Celtic Educator; M.R.I.A., 1871;  P.P., Claremorris, 1878; wrote Pre-Christian Ireland; d. 1887. (“In his circumstances, and those of his time, few men could have done more for the Irish language.” – A. Griffith.)

BOURKE, SIR THEOBALD VISCOUNT, son of Grace O’Malley; b. at sea, 1575; hence called “Tibbat-na-long, “ fought at Kinsale, and knighted; M.P., Co. Mayo, 1613; created peer, 1626; d. 1629; buried, Ballintober.

Brennan, Louis (1852–1932), the Castlebar engineer and inventor of the dirigible torpedo, the monorail system and many others.

BROWN, WILLIAM, Argentine admiral; b. Foxford, Mayo, 1777; d. Buenos Ayres, 1857; rose from cabin boy; settled in Buenos Ayres, 1812; accepted naval command, 1814; and defeated two Spanish squadrons;  severely defeated Brazilian fleet, 1826-7; blockaded Monte Video in civil war, 1842-45, defying orders of English commodore.

BROWN, PATRICK, naturalist; b. Woodstock, Mayo, 1720; d. Rushbrook, Mayo, 1790; M.D. Leyden; friend of Linnaeus; travelled much, studying geology and botany; published History of Jamaica, 1756; from 1774 lived at home, publishing “catalogues” of native birds, fishes, etc.,  his Fasciculus Plantorum Hiberniae in Latin, English and Gaelic, 1788 is notable.

CELLACH, ST., Bishop of Killala; who flourished in the sixth century; was eldest son of Eogan Bel, King of Connaught; monk at Clonmacnois; succeeded his father, but cursed by St. Ciaran renounced crown and returned to monastery; murdered by order of King Guaire.  Festival, 1st May.

COLMAN, ST., bishop of Lindisfarne; b. Co. Mayo; studied at Iona; consecrated Bishop of Lindisfarne, 661; defeated at Synod of Whitbby, 664, on the question of date of Easter; returned to Ireland, settled on Inishboffin, where he d. 676; the ruins of his church to be seen in townland of Knocka,  Festival, 8th August.

COMON, CORMAC, “Cormac Dall”, bard and storyteller; b. Woodstock, Mayo, 1703; d. in Galway about 1786; blind through small pox; endowed with a sweet voice and a good ear, he earned his livelihood wandering about the country singing and story-telling; composed several songs and elegies.

Condon, Richard (1937–91), theatre manager, born 27 July 1937 in Belfast, and attended St. Gerald's College, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Daly, James (1836?–1911), newspaper editor, farmer, and local politician.

DAVITT, MICHAEL, politican and author; b. Straid, Mayo, 1846; evicted, and brought up in Lancashire; lost an arm in factory; organising secretary Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1868; sentenced to 15 years’ penal servitude for share in movement, of which he served nine; founder of the Land League, 1879; M.P., Co. Meath, 1882; North Meath, 1892; South Mayo, 1895-9; established Labour World in London, 1890; founded united Irish League, 1898; published works include The Defence of the Land League (speech before Parnell Commission), 1891; Leaves from a Prison Diary, 1884; Boer Fight for Freedom; Fall of Fuedalism in Ireland, 1904; d. Dublin, 1906, (Lives by D. B. Cashman, and F. Sheehy-Skeffington 1908.)

Derrig, Thomas (Ó Deirig, Tomás) (1897–1956), revolutionary, teacher, and politician, born 26th Nov., 1897 in Westport, Co. Mayo

DILLON, JOHN, politician, son of succeeding; b. Blackrock, 1851; ed. Catholic Univ., Dub.: L.R.C.S.I.; accompanied Parnell to America, 1879; M.P., Tipperary, 1880-83; one of the traversers in the State Trial, 1881; M.P., East Mayo, 1885-1918; several times imprisoned under Coercion Acts; with William O’Brien established “Plan of Campaign”; left Parnell at “Split” 1890; succeeded Justin McCarthy as leader of anti Parnellite party; and John Redmond as leader of Nationalist party, 1918; d. London, 1927.

DILLON, JOHN BLAKE,  politician; b. Ballaghadereen, Co. Mayo, 1816; d. Killarney, 1866; ed. Maynooth, T.C.D., B.A., 1841; bar, 1841; President of the Historical Society, 1841; member of Young Ireland party, and one of the founders of The Nation; a leader of rebellion of ’48; escaped to France, and thence to America; returned to Dublin,  1855; co founder of National Association, 1865; M.P., Tipperary, 1865.

DUFFY, EDWARD, fenian; b. Ballaghadereen, 1840; became I.R.B., 1863, and “the life and soul of the movement west of the Shannon” – McCarthy; arrested with Stephens, 1865, and imprisoned; re-arrested, 1867; d. Millbank prison,London, 1868; beloved by Ellen O’Leary who wrote pathetic poem on him.

FITZGERALD, GEORGE ROBERT,  duellist, “fighting Fitzgerald”; b. Turlough, Co. Mayo about 1748; ed. at Eton; nephew of Hervey, Earl-Bishop of Derry; commanded company of volunteers; freeman of Derry, 1784; a wild desperado; killed an attorney, and hanged at Castlebar, 1786.

FLANNERY, THOMAS, Irish scholar; b. Co. Mayo, 1840; one of the earliest Gaelic revivalists, he taught the language for nearly forty years; published For the Tongue of the Gael, 1896, and Dunaire na Macoine, 1911; besides editing some Gaelic texts, and a metrical translation of The Lay of Oisin; d. London 1916.

GILDEA, SIR JAMES, philanthropist; b. Kilmaine, Co. Mayo, 1838; ed. Cambridge; served with ambulance, Franco-Prussian war, 1870-1; raised large sums for widows and orphans of soldiers killed in various wars, and for homes for officers’ widows and daughters; one of the founders of St. John’s Ambulance Association; almoner of Order of St. John of Jerusalem; C.B., 1898; K.C.V.O., 1908; d. 1920.

GRAY, SIR JOHN, journalist and publicist; b. Claremorris, 1816; ed. Glasgow, M.D., 1839; editor and part proprietor of Freeman’s Journal, 1841; sole proprietor,  1850; tried and sentenced with O’Connell in state trials, 1844; to his energy when town councillor Dublin owes its fine water supply; knighted, 1863, and inscribed “Vartry” on the coat of arms granted; returned three times unopposed for Kilkenny; d.Bath, 1875.

HARDIMAN, JAMES, historian; b. Connaught, 1782; studied law in Dublin; appointed sub-commissioner of public records; M.R.I.A., published History of Galway, 1820; a native speaker, he brought out Irish Minstrelsy, with translations, 2 vols., 1831; The Statute of Kilkenny, 1843; edited O’Flaherty’s Iar Connaught for I.A.S., 1846; librarian, Queen’s College, Galway; d. there 1855.

HAVERTY, MARTIN, historian; b. Co. Mayo, 1809; half brother of above; ed. Irish College, Paris; became sub-librarian, King’s Inns Dublin;  wrote Wanderings in Spain, 1844, and a History of Ireland, 1860, frequently reprinted; d. Dublin, 1887.

HENRY, SIR EDWARD RICHARD, police commissioner; b. Co. Mayo, 1850; ed. Ware and U.C., London, entered Indian Civil Service, 1873; retired 1901, appointed assistant, and in 1903, commissioner of Police in London;  introduced finger print system of identification; had to deal with many outrages and strikes; was shot in 1912; a strike of police in August, 1918, caused his resignation when he was created a baronet; d. Ascot, 1931.

Kenney, James Christopher Fitzgerald- (1878–1956), politician and lawyer, born 30th April, 1878, in Ballyglass, Co. Mayo.

KILMAINE, CHAS. EDWARD JENNINGS,  soldier; b. Dublin, 1744; entered French army at 15, taking name of “Kilmaine” from his ancestral home in Mayo; rose rapidly; serving under the king, the republic,  and Napoleon, with whom he crossed the Alps, and shared his Italian victories; general-in-chief in Switzerland, 1798; resigned through failing health; d. Paris, 1799.

King, Richard (1907–74), stained-glass artist and illustrator, born 7th July, 1907 in Castlebar, Co. Mayo

LUCAN BINGHAM GEORGE CHARLES,  3rd EARL OF; soldier; b. Dublin, 1800; entered army, 1816; colonel, 1826; M.P. Mayo, 1826-30; succeeded, 1839; commanded cavalry division in Turkey, 1854; directed charge of heavy brigade at Balaclava, and followed light brigade to cover its retirement; wounded in the action; censured and recalled, 1855; general, 1865; field-marshal, 1887; d. 1888.


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LYNCH, HENRY BLOSSE, explorer; b. Partry, Co. Mayo, 1807; entered navy, 1823; interpreter to squadron, 1829; crossed Nubian desert, 1833; with F.R. Chesney explored Euphrates route to India; traversed Tigris from Armenia to Bagdad; commanded flotilla, 1843; commodore Indian navy, 1851;  C.B., retired, 1856; d. Paris, 1873.

LYNCH, PATRICK EDWARD, soldier; b. Partry about 1805; entered Indian army, 1826; served with native infantry in many local engagements; was political resident, Afghanistan, 1840-1; retired with rank of major-general, 1878; d. Partry, 1884.

LYNCH, THOMAS KERR, explorer; b. Partry, 1818; ed. T.C.D., joined his brother Blosse on Euphrates expedition, 1837-42; established specially constructed line of steamers between Bagdad and India; travelled extensively, and on return was consul-general for Persia; d. London, 1891.

Lynn, Dr. Kathleen (1874-1955) was born in Mullafarry, Killala, where her father was the local rector, and throughout her life combined her medical work with campaigning for the feminist and nationalist movements of the day. A graphic novel on the life of Kathleen Lynn is available at:


MACBRIDE, JOHN (1865-1916) was born in Westport and offered his services to Thomas MacDonagh on Easter Monday 1916, and was second in command in Jacob's biscuit factory during the rising. He was captured after the rising, court-martialled, sentenced to death, and executed in Kilmainham Jail, on 5th May 1916. 

MACDONNELL, ANTHONY PATRICK,  1st Lord; statesman; b. Shraigh, Mayo, 1844; ed. Summerhill, and Q. Coll., Galway; entered Bengal civil service, 1865; rose to be acting-governor; K.C.S.I., 1893; P.C., 1902; went as under-secretary to Dublin to carry out a policy of devolution and land purchase; his hopes frustrated, retired, 1908, when raised to peerage; d. London, 1925.

MCDONNELL, ENEAS,  author; b. Westport, 1783; d. Laragh, 1858; ed. Tuam and Maynooth; bar; edited Cork Chronicle in 1816, and imprisoned six months for an article; and in Kilmainham in 1828, at suit of Archbp Trench of Tuam; went to London as parliamentary agent of Catholic association, and wrote hosts of pamphlets in its behalf; one novel, and Letters, 8vo, 1837.  Norbury, seeing him leave Archbp. Troy’s house, said: “There’s the pious Eneas coming from the ‘sack’ ofTroy”

 MACHALE, MOST REV. JOHN, archbishop; b. Tobbernavine, Mayo, 1791; entered Maynooth, 1807; ordained 1814; consecrated bishop, 1825; archbishop of Tuam, 1834; became very popular; “The Lion of St. Jarlath’s” as O’Connell called him; opposed Newman and his Catholic university, and quarrelled with Cardinal Cullen over it; visited Rome Twice; a native speaker, he translated the Pentateuc, , Moore’s Melodies and the Iliad into Irish, and wrote Irish verse; voluminous letter writer; d. Tuam 1881.  (Life by Rev. B. O’Reilly)

MAXWELL, WILLIAM HAMILTON,  novelist; b. Newry, 1792; ed. T.C.D., B.A., 1812; ordained, Carlow, 1813; curate of Clonallon, 1813; rector of Balla, 1820; wrote O’Hara, Wild Sports of the West; Stories of Waterloo, Brian O’Linn, and other popular fictions; History of Irish Rebellion of 1798, and Life of Wellington; contributed to leading periodicals; d. Musselburgh, 1850.

MOORE, GEORGE AUGUSTUS, novelist, b. Moore Hall, Ballyglass, Mayo, 1852; eldest son of G.H. Moore, M. P. (q.v.); ed. Oscott; studied art in Paris, 1870-80; settled in London; suppressed his early poems, and his earlier novels were banned by libraries; returned to Ireland; High Sheriff of Mayo, 1905; describes his life there in his trilogy, Hail and Farewell, 1911-14; The Brook Kerith (1916) established his reputation as a master of English prose; d. Chelsea, 1933.

Moore, Maurice George (1854–1939), soldier and politician, born 10th Aug., 1854 at Moore Hall, Ballyglass, Co. Mayo

MOORE, GEORGE HENRY, politician; b. Moore Hall, Co. Mayo, 1810; ed. Oscott and Cambridge; M.P., Mayo, 1847; his brilliant oratorical gifts brought him to the front; led tenant right movement after 1855; unseated, 1857; was out of Parliament until 1868, when re-elected for Mayo; supported amnesty and Home Rule; d. Co. Mayo, 1870; his son is the well-known novelist. (Life by Maurice Moore.)

NANGLE, REV. EDWARD, missionary; b. Dublin, 1800; ed. T.C.D., B.A., 1823; ordained, 1824, settled in Achill, 1834; founded school and church; established a printing press from which issued a monthly journal, The Missionary Herald; many books in English, and an Irish grammar (he was a native speaker); rector of Skreen, 1850; a voluminous controversialist; d. 1883 (Life by Henry Seddall.)

O’CONNOR, CATHAL, king of Connacht; “Cathal mohr of the wine-red hand”; b. Ballincalla, Mayo, about 1150; succeeded his brother Roderick, 1201; inaugurated at Tulsk; acknowledged supremacy of King John, whom he twice attended; two Latin letters of his preserved in Record office; founded abbeys at Athlone, Knockmoy and Ballintober; d. 1224.

O’HART, JOHN, genealogist; b. Crossmolina, 1824; ed. locally; entered R.I.C.; resigned and became a schoolmaster at Ringsend; F.R.S.A.I.; published Irish Pedigrees, 1876, which has gone through many editions; Irish and Anglo-Irish landed Gentry, 1884, and other works; d. Clontarf, 1902.

O' Malley, Ernest Bernard ('Ernie) (1897-1957), born in Castlebar and initially an Irish Republican who later became an author and poet

O’MALLEY, GEORGE, general; b. Mayo, about 1780; fought as a volunteer against Humbert, 1798; entered 13th regt., 1800; served in Egypt and Jamaica; commanded 44th at Waterloo, where twice wounded, and had two horses shot under him; colonel, Connaught Rangers, 1825; major-general, 1841; d. London 1843; statue at Castlebar.

O’MALLEY, GRACE, “GranuaWaile”; b. Mayo, about 1530; married first Donal O’Flaherty, and secondly Richard Burke; “a most famous feminine sea captain” (Sidney); “nurse of all the rebellions in the province for forty years” (Bingham); traditionally stated to have visited Elizabeth, and on her return to have stolen the heir from Howth castle; said to have died in poverty, about 1600.

ORMSBY, JOHN, scholar; b. Gartner Abbey, Crossmolina, 1829; ed. T.C.D.. B.A., 1843; wrote much for the high class reviews; created record as an Alpine climber; translated The Cid into English verse and prose, and Don Quixote, 1885; d. Ramsgate, 1895.

OWENSON, ROBERT, actor; b. Tyrawley, 1744; real name, MAC OWEN; father of Lady Morgan; introduced by Goldsmith to Garrick, and admitted member of “The Club” from 1776 till 1798, he managed theatres in Dublin, Kilkenny, and elsewhere; is said to have composed air of “Rory O’More”; according to Dr. Maginn, he was unsurpassed in the singing of “Madraheen Rhu”; d. Dublin, 1812.

RAFTERY, ANTHONY, Gaelic poet; b. near Kiltimagh, 1784, and d. there Xmas eve, 1834; blind through smallpox; learned violin, and became a wanderer; attending fairs and “patterns” exercising a great influence on the people by his songs in pure Irish; sang against tithes, and hailed O’Connell’s victory in Clare, 1828; his masterpiece, a dirge on the “Anach Cuan” tragedy is well-known; Lady Gregory erected a tombstone over his grave in 1900.

STAINES, MICHAEL JOSEPH (1885 - 1955):  born in Newport, Co. Mayo, Michael Joseph Staines was appointed Commissioner of the Civic Guard from Feb. 21st to Sept. 9th, 1922 by the Garda Síochana (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, FIRST COMMISSIONER, GARDA SÍOCHANA NA HÉIREANN.

STOCK, RT. REV. JOSEPH, bishop; b.Dublin; 1740; ed. T.C.D., B.A., 1761; rector of Conwall; headmaster of Portora school, 1795-7; bishop of Killala, 1798; made prisoner by the French under Humbert; wrote interesting account of What Passed at Killala, 1799; translated to Waterford, 1810 an accomplished scholar and excellent linquist, 1813.

TAYLOR, JOHN FRANCIS, orator and journalist; b. Co. Mayo, about 1850; bar, 1882; English bar, 1890; Q.C., 1892; wrote Life of Owen Roe; for many years Dublin correspondent Manchester Guardian; an able advocate; his contributions to various leading reviews placed him amongst the most eminent writers; “in the opinion of good judges the finest Irish orator of his time” (O’Donoghue); d. Dublin, 1902.

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