Background to Mayo Abbey Developments

Background to the Mayo Abbey Developments

Mayo Abbey Community Council

Mayo Abbey is a small rural village situated in a Clar area in South Mayo. It is predominantly a farming community; average farm size is 35 acres and is located 6 miles from Claremorris, 3 miles from Balla and 7 miles from Carnacon. Our close knit community situated in the heart of South Mayo covers an area of over 40 square kilometres with over 432 households and a population of 1,210 (parish census 2009).

A burning community spirit, dedication, hard work and a whole lot of team spirit has driven a number of community developments and projects which support all members and organisations within the community, as well as many of those from the wider area.

In the early 1990’s the residents of Mayo Abbey community were becoming very concerned.  

  • Young people were leaving, not just to go to Dublin, England or America, but to go to neighbouring towns which had more modern facilities
  • The primary school was 100 years old with falling numbers and 2 teachers
  • There were little or no supports for young families or vulnerable groups such as the elderly, isolated, etc
  • Rural isolation was a major issue for many
  • A parish survey highlighted that approximately 1/3 of houses had only one occupant
  • Parts of the village were becoming rundown
  • Mayo Gaels were in the process of developing their own grounds and they were the only parish organisation in the community

Members of the community got together and decided something needed to be done.  They formed a Community Council in 1993. 

Community Employment Scheme

The Community Council applied and were approved to run a FÁS Community Employment Scheme. At this point, having no building or grounds, Mayo Gaels provided a base from which the CE Scheme could operate.

The CE Scheme provided an employment opportunity for locals with varying talents, as well as giving them an opportunity to learn new skills.

In 1994, South West Mayo Leader Development Co. allocated a grant for village enhancement. This grant, along with local fund raising and donations of land from local farmers led to the completion of a wide range of projects including:

  • Restoring old buildings
  • Building in excess of 500 meters of stone walls
  • Enhancement work such as footbaths, block walls and landscaping
  • Restoring a number of Marian Grottos in the community
  • Enhancement work at Facefield village
  • With support from Mayo County Council and Eircom, all overhead telephone lines running through the village were put underground
  • Supported Mayo Gaels with the development of their grounds

This enhancement work led to a renewed interest in the village and surrounding area.  It generated a sense of pride in the community and more locals started to become involved.  This led to people starting to look beyond the enhancement projects and at the wider picture. 

Click the link to find out more about our Community Employment Scheme.

Community Meeting To Determine What Is Needed

A public meeting was called by the Community Council in 1995 to assess the needs of the community and put a development plan in place.  The following needs were identified as being the most important:

  • The need for a “purpose built centre” in Mayo Abbey
  • Childcare facilities
  • Youth facilities
  • Elderly day care
  • Rural Transport

Other points raised included:

  • Provision of good quality water
  • Social housing and serviced sites
  • Lack of employment in the area
  • Need for adult education and training

Addressing The Needs Identified

A working group was set up to explore options of building a Resource Centre in the village. 

By the end of the year:

  • The local community were fully behind and committed to the project
  • Plans for the centre were drawn up
  • A site was donated by Fr. Austin Fergus PP on behalf of Tuam Diocese,  
  • Commitment to the project was given by FÁS CE Scheme, South West Mayo Leader Company

Looking at the job ahead, building the Resource Centre, looking for funding, and also looking at the bigger picture of addressing the needs identified at the community meeting, the Community Council realized:

  • In order to do any development work and access public funds, they would need a legal structure
  • One committee would not be able to make headway in all the areas identified

As a result of this, the Community Council decided to set up a company which would in turn develop various subcommittees to work on addressing the needs identified.  The company they set up was called Mayo Abbey Parish Development Company.

Subcommittees & Companies

Over the years, it was realized that it would be necessary to set up various subcommittees in order to carry out the works which had been identified at the meeting. The various subcommittees worked with statutory bodies, local departments and agencies, local organizations and the community to develop all of the projects in Mayo Abbey today.

Mayo Abbey Today

As a result of the needs identified at the first meeting and the work of the Community Council and various committees over the years 3 separate companies have evolved, as well as a number of various clubs/organisations that continue to serve the needs of the local community:

Works carried out to date include:

  • Supporting Mayo Abbey Parish Housing Association CLG & Abbey Tots CLG in the formation of their companies and continuing to support the voluntary committees of both companies.
  • Village enhancement projects in Mayo Abbey and Facefield including building stone walls, landscaping, restoration of grottos in the community, etc.
  • Working with local authority and agencies to develop a village sewage scheme.
  • Working with local authority and agencies to connect the village to the Lough Mask water supply.
  • Working with government departments, local authority and agencies to restore historical buildings in the area.
  • Supporting the Heritage Committee with the renovation and restoration of the Famine Church and Old Schoolhouse.
  • Working with local authority to develop footpaths and lighting in the village connecting all of the projects to the main village areas ie Church, the Resource Centre, the Creche, the Primary School, the Rural Transport programme, Mayo Gaels Football pitch and walkway and the local shop and pub.  
  • Working with local authority to develop a pedestrian crossing in the village.
  • Working with local authority improve roadways into the village and make them safer.
  • Supporting the Heritage Committee with the compilation of a history of the Mayo Abbey area, with leaflets and pamphlets outlining same.
  • Archiving of historical document and digitalizing same.
  • Sponsoring a CE Scheme and hosting RSS participants.
  • Local transport service set up and has now been expanded on by Local Link Mayo.
  • Set up Social meals and meals delivery programme.
  • Developed St. Colmans Training Centre.
  • Developed Mayo Organic Centre.
  • Developed Mayo Abbey Cookery School.
  • Run a full time LTI Professional Cookery Programme in conjunction with MSLETB.
  • Organized Michael Durkan to do the mapping of the graveyard and develop an information board which is now onsite. Maps of the graveyard and pictures of the graves are available to view online on Irish, alternatively please click the link for the relevant graveyard: Mayo Abbey New Graveyard or Mayo Abbey Old Graveyard.
  • Provided support to Mayo Gaels with the development of their facility.
  • Provide support to Tochar Valley Network, which in turn supports 18 communities.
  • Development of a community office to support individuals in the community as well as local organisations and clubs.
  • Set up various initiatives to link the community and the diaspora.


  • 1993 Community Council Formed.
  • 1993 First sponsored C.E. Scheme.
  • 1993 Village Enhancements projects commenced in Mayo Abbey and Facefield.
  • 1994 Heritage group established to research, promote and record the History of Mayo Abbey.
  • 1995 A public meeting was held to investigate the needs of the community. Following this, it was decided to proceed with the building of the Community Centre.
  • 1996 Mayo Abbey Community Development Company Formed.
  • 1998 Work commences on the Community Centre.
  • 2000 Oct. Community Centre Building Work was completed and the Centre officially opened by Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam.
  • 2000 Housing Company Formed
  • 2000 Renovation of the Famine Church commenced.
  • 2001 Childcare services launched.
  • 2001 Youth committee formed, involved with the community council in planning a community vegetable and herb garden.
  • 2002 Active retirement group set up.
  • 2002 Renovation of Old Parochial House.
  • 2002 Major fundraising draw held to reduce debt on Resource Centre. This draw raised £90,000.
  • 2003 With no public transport available, a community wheelchair accessible mini-bus was purchased and Community Transport Service launched.
  • 2003 Community laundry service set up in July.
  • 2004 St. Colmans Training Centre opens and a range of courses are developed.
  • 2005 Funding approval received for new Child Care Centre.
  • 2005 Work started on setting up an Organic Garden.
  • 2006 Construction started on building of new Childcare Centre to cater for 70 children.
  • 2006 Housing Committee and Mayo County Council agree on a joint housing venture of 17 houses and 4 affordable sites.
  • 2006 Commencement of After School Service, Abbey Tots.
  • 2006 Mayo County Council nominate Mayo Abbey Community to
  • represent the county in the National Finals of the Pride of Place
  • competition and Mayo Abbey is awarded overall winner in their category.
  • 2007 Mayo Abbey Resource Centre nominated to represent Mayo in the LAMA awards. Mayo Abbey was among the final eight short-listed in the National Final. The LAMA Awards were created to honour exemplary projects within the community. Mayo Abbey was selected in the best Public Building Category as a facility that enhanced life for the community as a whole.
  • 2007 Funding approved for Housing Project and building works started.
  • 2007 Meals delivery service commenced.
  • 2008 St. Colman’s Training Centre became F.E.T.A.C. (now QQI) Accredited.
  • 2008 Abbey Tots Childcare facility opened with the capacity to cater for up to 70 children.
  • 2009 Cnoc na nIúr Housing Development completed.
  • 2009 Horticulture Garden is granted Organic Status by I.O.F.G.A.
  • 2009 First F.E.T.A.C. Training Courses completed.
  • 2009 Mayo Abbey Foroige Club wins National Award.
  • 2009 Mayo County Council commenced work on the village sewerage scheme.
  • 2010 Canteen opened at Resource Centre.
  • 2010 Full time LTI Organic Horticulture course started in conjunction with FAS.
  • 2010 Mayo People of the Year 2010 Award.
  • 2011 Official Opening of Cnoc na nIur, Housing Project by President Mary McAleese Sat. 28th May.
  • 2011 Full time LTI Professional Cookery course started in conjunction with FAS.
  • 2012 New Training Kitchen developed and Cookery School officially opened.
  • 2013 First Mayo Master Chef competition was held at the Cookery School and Centre in conjunction with Chefs of Mayo and Flogas.
  • 2013 St. Colmans Training Centre commences outreach training in external locations.
  • 2016 Work commences on new housing communal building.
  • 2018 Housing communal building works complete,
  • 2018 Village footpaths and lighting completed.
  • 2019 Pedestrian Crossing in village completed.
  • 2020 Graveyard mapping completed and information boards in place at Graveyard. Graveyard is also listed on