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Article Published February 12, 2002



County Mayo (Ireland): An Outline History
By: Bernard O'Hara and Nollaig ÓMuraíle,
Copyright: Mayo Ireland Ltd.



Independence

The Land agitation destroyed servility and paved the way for the emergence of a modern democracy. Under the provisions of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, Grand Juries (which consisted of the chief landowners in each county) were abolished and replaced by county councils with a significant extension of local democracy. The change saw some readjustments to county boundaries including Mayo. These developments were aided by the Gaelic Revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After the defeat of 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, fourteen of its leaders, including a Westport man, Major John MacBride, were executed. McBride had led a small Irish Brigade in the Boer War in South Africa against the British, and was married for a time to the beautiful Maud Gonne, the love of the poet W.B. Yeats. (Their son, Seán, became an international lawyer of renown, the founder of a political party - Clann na Poblachta, Minister for External Affairs in the first inter-party government in Ireland 1948 - '51, and winner of the Nobel and Lenin Peace Prizes). The historic general election of 1918, in which Sinn Féin candidates won a landslide victory, led to the establishment of 'the first Dáil', or native parliament, in January 1919, which was not recognised by Britain. The first public session in Ireland of the new Republican law courts was held in Ballinrobe on 17 May 1919. These developments were followed by the war of independence, with a number of incidents in County Mayo, notably at Foxford, Islandeady, Toormakeady, Kilmeena and Carrowkennedy near Westport. A truce was declared in July 1921, followed by the Anglo Irish Treaty of 6 December. The subsequent split in Republican ranks led to a tragic civil war (1922 - '23), again with a number of so called 'incidents' in County Mayo, but nothing compared to the atrocities which took place elsewhere in Ireland.

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