Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Mayo

Description from Thom’s Directory of Ireland of Ireland, 1931


Mayo a maritime county in the province of Connaught, is bounded on the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by counties Sligo and Roscommon and on the south by county Galway. Its greatest length from the boundary near Ballyhaunis to near Erris Head is about 66 miles and its greatest breadth from Killary Harbour to Downpatrick Head is 54 miles.


The county takes its name from the village of Mayo in the south-eastern part of the county, “Magh-eo” (the plain of the Yew trees) , the habitation and burial place of St. Coleman. The barony of Erris was formerly known as Irros Domnann. The peninsula of Murrisk south of Clew Bay , was known as Upper Umall, and north of the Bay was Lower Umall, embracing the barony of Burrishoole; these two districts were the patrimony of the O’Malleys. The barony of Tirawley was the land of the Awleys, as its name implies. The baronies of Erris, Carra and part of Tirawley was anciently known as Hy-Fiachrach of the Moy, the southern part being in county Galway. The plain north-east of Cong known as Moytura was the scene of a battle in which the De Dannans defeated the Firbolgs and thus captured Ireland. This plain is still possessed of ancient burial places, sepulchral structures and cromlechs.


In Murrisk, rising above Killary Harbour, is Muilrea (2,688’) the highest Mountain in Connaught. The next highest point is Nephin (2,646’) a prominent cone west of Lough Conn. Croagh Patrick (2,510’) the scene of many of the labours of St. Patrick, is, in many ways, the most celebrated mountain in Ireland. Viewed from a distance it presents a striking appearance, and from its summit there are many magnificent views, especially seawards over Clew Bay and its numberless islands.

There are several peaks in the county rising to over 2000 feet, amongst them being Bengorm (2,303’) and Ben Creggan (2,283’) in Murrisk, Birreencorragh (2,295’), Light Daughybaun (2,369’), Nephin Beg (2,065’) and Glennamorrig (2,067) in the Nephin district. The Partry Mountains near the Galway border have lofty summits in Devil’s Mother (2,131’) and Maumtrasna (2,207’). In Achill Island, rising from the sea in very precipitous cliffs are Croaghaun (2,192’) and Slievemore (2,204)

The Bays and Harbours include Killala Bay, which lies between Mayo and Sligo. Broad Haven Bay north of Erris Head has many narrow inlets, Blacksod Bay, a very large stretch of water north of Achill Island resolves itself into many smaller bays and inlets. Clew Bay also covers a large area containing very many islands, as well as the smaller bays of Westport and Newport. Killary Harbour is a long narrow inlet between Galway and Mayo.

Headlands: Benwee is at the west entrance to Killala Bay, and near it is Downpatrick Head. Erris Head is at the north west of the county. Achill Head is a long spur running into the Atlantic on the west of Achill Island. Emlagh Head is at the exteme north west of Murrisk.

The Rivers include the Moy which enters from Sligo and forms the boundary with that county for several miles. The River Deel flows in a winding course from Birreencorragh mountain into Lough Conn. The Crumpaun rising in the same mountain flows into Lough Beltra. The Erriff flows through some fine scenery into Killary Harbour. The Aille rises in the Partry Mountains, and runs underground for two miles before it enters Lough Mask. The Robe passes by Hollymount and Ballinrobe and enters Lough Mask. The Black River flowing into Lough Corrib forms the boundary between Mayo and county Galway for 4 miles. The Owenmore and Owenduff have large drainage areas on their way to Tullaghan Bay. The Cong River joins Loughs Mask and Corrib.

The Lakes in the county are practically unlimited in number. Lough Conn, a fine lake is 9 miles long and 2 ½ in breadth, and joins up with Lough Cullin on the south. Lough Carra is 6 miles long. Sawleen Lake, a small lake near Castlebar, flows into Lough Lannoch (otherwise known as Castlebar Lake) one of the chain of lakes which reaches from Castlebar to Islandeady Lake. Near Newport is Lough Beltra, 2 ½ miles long. Lough Carrowmore 4 miles long lies near Belmullet. In the Murrisk peninsula and near Ballyhaunis are several stretches of small and beautiful lakes.

Achill Island is the largest island around he Irish coast. It is triangular in shape with a 15 mile base, and the ground is generally much above sea level. Clare Island, 3 miles from Achill, in Clew Bay is about 6 square miles in extent. In the same district are Inishturk and Inishbofin, and they are considerable in size. In Clew Bay there is a multitude of islands. Iniskea North and South are north of Achill. Inishglora is noted for the remains of a monastery founded by St. Brendan. The west and north of Belmullet is called The Mullet, which is almost but not quite an island.





Total Pop.

146,137 146,975 293,112

179,595 186,733 366,328

194,198 194,689 388,887

133,264 141,235 274,499

125,636 129,160 254,796

120,877 125,153 246,030

119,421 125,791 245,212

107,498 111,536 219,034

97,564 101,602 199,166

96,345 95,832 192,177

86,749 85,912 172,690


There were 35,347 families in the county according to the 1926 Census for Ireland, the average number in each family being 4.7 The number of ‘inhabited houses’ was 35,345, with an average of 4.9 persons to each house. The Special Inmates of Public institutions are omitted from these figures.

There were in the county 31,801 ‘Occupiers’ or ‘Heads of Families’ who were in occupation of less than five rooms, this was 89.9% of the total for the whole county. Of these 1,556, or 4.4% occupied one room; 9,651 or 27.3% occupied two rooms; 16,754 or 47.4%, occupied three rooms; and 3,840 or 10.8% were in occupation of four rooms.

There were 497 tenements in the county, in which the room had only one occupant at that time; 712 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants; 270 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and 77 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 36 cases where 8 persons, 26 cases where 9 persons, 11 cases where ten persons and 4 cases where eleven persons occupied the same room.


In 1911, there were in the county 154,165 people aged 9 years and upwards; of these 121,100 or 78.5% could read and write; 4,912 or 3.2% could read only; and 28,153 or 18.3% were illiterate. As that census was the first for which the age for consideration had been raised from 5 years to 9 years, no comparison can be made with figures from earlier censuses. But – the percentage of those of five years and upwards who were unable to read and write in 1891 was 32.0%. By 1901 this figure was listed as 25.1% and in 1911 had fallen to 20.7%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
32,228 16,509 8,908 4,234 2,529 1,518

Irish & English
124,148 122,452 139,930 106,131 97,235 87,083

Irish Total
156,376 138,961 147,738 110,365 99,764 88,601
% of
61.4 56.5 60.2 50.4 50.1 46.1

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926(% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

Roman Catholic
96.9 97.1 97.5 97.66 97.86 98.56

Church of Ireland
2.5 2.3 2.0 1.90 1.76 1.19

0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.27 0.16

0.1 0.1 0.1 0.9 0.07 0.03

0.1 0.1 0.1 0.05 0.04 0.05

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
29,317 27,496 24,705 42,368 40,703 29,961