This Association was founded in 1905 – then The Mayo Men’s Association – by Major John MacBride from Westport and Mr Edward Lavelle from Belcarra among others. Ireland has undergone breath taking change between then and now. Back in 1905, the primary objective of the establishment of the Mayo Association Dublin was to help migrants from the county to establish their presence and identity in the Capital. In those early days, it stood to reason that this social network was an invaluable not to mention comforting resource for the Mayo diaspora in the capital. The visits back to mayo were infrequent – for many reasons, most notably, logistics, affordability, not to mention time!
What is truly remarkable and indeed has been commented on and mused upon by many, is how this Association has maintained its significance and vibrancy to this day. We live in an era of a ‘virtual world’ – in which we can connect with each other through the touch of a button. Yet Our Association still stands, and if anything is strengthening year on year, evidenced by a stark rise in membership over the very recent years. Mayo Association Dublin events continue to receive overwhelming support from the Mayo diaspora. For a host of reasons, the Mayo connection remains significant – and underlines that despite the jaw-dropping advances in science and technology, human engagement is still relevant and worthwhile.
The following is an excerpt taken from “History of the Mayo Association, Dublin“ By John Garavin
“…Any attempt to identify the factors that have established Muintir Mhaigh Eo personnel in Dublin since the Association was founded in 1905 is not an easy one. Neither fact nor reason can explain how our Association has stood the test of time. In this year of 2005, the Association has reached its centenary.
It is a significant milestone in the history of any Association and it is fitting that the achievements, the personnel, the officers and ordinary members and supporters should be recognised and the contribution of so many people should be celebrated in a fitting way. The Mayo Association, Dublin was originally known as the ‘Mayo Men’s Association.’ For obvious reasons, that title is now history.
It is now proudly known as the Mayo Persons Association, or, more commonly, the Mayo Association. Mayo is a large barren county. Arable land constitutes a very small portion of its acreage. Being constantly battered by the Atlantic Ocean from Killala to Clew Bay and Killary, it boasts a delightful, jagged coastline. Now probably the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s coastal counties, for both the present Mayo residents and those who have had to make a living elsewhere, there is a strong attachment to their place of birth…
…In the early 1900s life was not kind to Mayo’s inhabitants. Being born 150 to 200 miles from the capital city of our country left an enormous amount of time and space between the local parliamentarians and the Government officials of the time, who either resided at Dublin Castle, Bank of Ireland, Dame Street, or, of course, in the house of Commons in London.
In researching the early days of the Mayo Association and the people responsible for bringing the body into being, it is important to understand something of the history and conditions of the time. Most people know of and have read about the Great Hunger of 1845-1848 and of the terrible consequences of that tragedy. We know how those who survived eked out a living from the land. If strength of will or mind were ever a necessity then it must surely have been in the aftermath of such an awful catastrophe and those unforgettable scenes of famine, despair, emigration and death.
Being a colony of the British Empire during the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, we relied greatly on the British administration for sustenance. World power countries demanded a lot from their colonies and Mayo and Ireland suffered hugely in terms of loss of life and human degradation. There were many fatalities from a very high infant mortality rate. The life expectancy threshold meant that a fifty year old was considered an old man. Many Mayo people emigrated in the late 1800s and early 1900s to the USA. These were extremely hazardous journeys with many succumbing to the hardships and perils of the voyages.
Great Britain was another popular destination for those seeking work and, to a lesser, extent, Dublin received her share of Mayo people who left their native place but did not go abroad. Of course there were tremendous scenes of sadness with each departure. Every house in Mayo had a ‘wake’ on the eve of a son or daughter going to the USA. In those days the ‘wake’ was recognized as probably the last time the parents of those taking the boat would ever see their offspring. A hundred years later, in an era of almost instant communication, it is hard to imagine what time, travel and communications were like then…”