Mayo Abbey

Mayo Abbey, Co. Mayo in the West of Ireland


Known throughout the Christian world as 'Mayo of the Saxons', Mayo Abbey is a small rural village in South Mayo. It is located 10 miles south of Castlebar, 6 miles from Claremorris and 3 miles from Balla.

Founded by St Colman of Lindesfarne circa 670, Mayo Abbey is one of the most important monastic sites in Western Europe. Mayo Abbey was 300 years old when Viking Dublin was founded. Extending over an area of approx 40 sq km, it is predominantly a farming community, with over 432 households and a population of 1,210 (parish census 2009).

Brief History of Mayo Abbey

  • The area is known as 'Mayo of the Saxons' because Mayo Abbey was founded for Saxon monks
  • Flourishing as a centre for learning for many centuries, Mayo Abbey attracted students from Britain and Europe, including many of the Saxon nobility
  • Mayo Abbey is connected with Iona, Kells and the Frankish Court of Charlemagne.
  • Mayo Abbey was named as the seat of the Diocese of Mayo by the Synod of Kells in 1152
  • Bishop Patrick O'Healy of Mayo was executed in 1579 and was the first Irish bishop to die for the faith
  • In the 16th century Mayo Abbey gave it's name to County Mayo, the third largest county in Ireland. The old Irish name 'Mhaigh Eo' means 'Plain of the Yew Tree'
  • Mass continued to be celebrated secretly in the ruins of the Abbey during Penal times in Ireland
  • St Colman's Famine Church in Mayo Abbey was opened in 1845 on the eve of the Great Famine

Mayo Abbey Today

This close knit region in the bosom of South Mayo nurtures a vibrant community spirit, with many notable community developments through the ethos of hard work and a dedicated team spirit, providing useful resources for the people of the parish and beyond.

Mayo Abbey village boasts a school, parish church, a pub and general merchants' shop, a post office, a GAA centre and a number of housing projects.

A new parochial house was built in 2001: the old Famine Church was re-roofed in 2001: and ongoing local improvements are being carried out through a Community Employment Scheme.

St Colman's Training Centre

In September 2004, St Colman's Training Centre was officially opened, with the overall aim of bringing adult education into the community. The centre has 3 conference rooms, modern IT facilities, a fully equipped training kitchen (HSE Approved) and full bar facilities.

Two polytunnels, a glass house and the use of an acre of land are used to provide training courses in Organic Horticulture. The resulting organic garden supplies fresh produce for over 200 meals a week for the elderly, either provided within the centre or delivered to their homes.

Abbey Tots Community Childcare Services, catering for approximately 70 children, is another facility within the Training Centre.

St Colman's Training Centre is dedicated to constant development and improvement in delivering quality training in adult education to the wider community.