Mayo, in Irish Maigh Eó, a county in the northern part of the province of Connacht or Connaught in western Ireland. The dialect of the Irish language spoken in northern Mayo has not been used very extensively in literature, which is a pity, because it is a good compromise between northern or Ulster dialects and more southern dialects. The most important book written in this dialect is Seán Ó Ruadháin's Pádhraic Mháire Bhán, recently reissued by An Gúm. This dialect is still spoken in Carrowtaigue (Ceathrú Thaidhg) and by old people in Belmullet Peninsula (Béal an Mhuirthead), and in Achill Island (Oileán Acla). In fact, Achill Island gave the Irish language the saying hata Acla or "Achill hat" - in those old days, there was supposedly just one hat in Achill Island, and whoever happened to be the one visiting the mainland, took that hat to show off, in order to give the mainland people the impression everybody in Achill could afford such a hat. So, "to wear the Achill hat" - hata Acla a chaitheamh - can mean you are trying to ostentatiously appear more well-to-do than you can actually afford.
The southern dialects of Mayo, such as that of Tourmakeady, are just a continuation of the dialects spoken in Connemara. The most important book available in Tourmakeady Irish is the novel Taidhgín, by Tomás Ó Duinnshléibhe.
Mayo was the home of Gráinne Mhaol Ní Mháille or Grace O'Malley, the legendary queen of the Irish pirates: stories about her were told by the firesides in Irish as long as the language lived, and some can be found in the book Fánaíocht i gContae Mhaigh Eó. Her memory is also celebrated in the popular song - popular even among Irish learners - Óró, 'sé do bheatha abhaile. Another important Gaelic Irish figure connected with Mayo was the blind poet Anthony Raftery or Antaine Ó Reachtubhra. Much of Raftery's poems and songs were written for propaganda purposes, because he had rather strong links with the agrarian secret society of the Ribbonmen.
In 1798 - the year of the French - the troops of the French General Humbert landed in Killala (Cill Eala) in Mayo in an attempt to establish a bridgehead in Connacht. He was able to amass considerable forces, when quite a number of Irish rebels joined his French detachments, but although he did win a victory at Castlebar (Caisleán an Bharraigh), routing the British forces to Galway, his local republic did not last long. He surrendered to the British after a token battle in September. (This has been described by the Mayoman Eoghan Ó Tuairisc in his historical novel L'Attaque - written in Irish, with the exception of the title, of course.)
Mayo was one of the places hit hardest by the Irish potato famine - it was so bad that for a long time afterward, people never mentioned the name of the county without adding God help us! to it. No wonder the Land War assumed particularly violent forms in Mayo, with cattle-maiming, assaults, and murders - the word boycott seems to have originated in Mayo, actually.
The major towns of the county are Westport (Cathair na Mart), Ballina (Béal an Átha), and Castlebar (Caisleán an Bharraigh). There is an international airport at Knock (Cnoc Mhuire). The major sight and tourist trap is, of course, the Croagh Patrick mountain.