Geographical Divisions of County Mayo, Ireland

There are numerous geographical divisions that have been created in Ireland over the years, many of which are now obsolete. County Mayo falls in Connacht Province along with County Galway, County Roscommon, County Leitrim and County Sligo. The only reference that I have seen to this division is the occasional referral in older books to the Connacht region.

County Mayo, one of the 32 counties of Ireland, was further broken down into baronies. They were Burrishoole, Carra, Clanmorris, Costello, Erris, Gallen, Kilmaine, Murrisk and Tirawley. Each Barony was further divided into Civil Parishes of which there were 71 before two were transferred to County Roscommon making 69. Although the Barony division is not utilized today, many of the records available for the mid 19th century were presented under the Civil Parish and Townlands within these Baronies. The Griffith Valuation is one such record group, a valuable tool in assessing surname distribution immediately post famine. There is overlap of these Civil Parishes between the Baronies and several such as Castlebar and Kilcolman in Costello Barony had townlands that later became part of County Roscommon in 1898.

The Civil Parishes were composed of Townlands whose sizes were quite variable. I've noticed reference to further smaller divisions of the Townlands in the Roman Catholic Parish Records on microfilm. many of these are not listed in the comprehensive Townland databases and books that are available. This poses quite a challenge to narrowing down their exact location, as many names were known and used in the church records by priests and parishioners but lost over time.

The Poor Law Union is another division which I will not focus on in this website. These divisions were developed to create a tax base to subsidize care of the poor in their geographical area. Workhouses used these funds to aid the indigent. I have yet to find any County Mayo Workhouse registers, but if they are located they could be quite a valuable resource.

The Roman Catholic Church created geographical divisions that ignored existing Civil Parish and Barony borders. County Mayo was composed of three church dioceses: Killala, Achonry and Tuam. Killala covered part of Counties Mayo and Sligo. Achonry covered parts of Counties Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo, and Tuam covered almost half of Mayo plus part of Roscommon and Galway counties. If you feel that your Irish ancestor may have been in a Roman Catholic Parish on the county border, it would not hurt to peruse the neighboring County's Roman Catholic Parish records.

County Mayo is divided into 55 Roman Catholic Parishes. Each Roman Catholic Parish is composed of one or more Civil Parishes, and may even overlap into other counties. This is a valuable geographical division to aid in your microfilm research. These records were not destroyed in the Four Courts Fire of 1922. Many of them are available via the Family History Center Satellite branches of the LDS church, and almost all Roman Catholic Parish records before 1880 are housed at the National Library of Ireland. These Roman Catholic Parishes sometimes have several different names associated with them. I will try to identify any alternative names and spellings and the civil parishes they cover when I present these records. It can be quite confusing. To further complicate matters, parish boundaries have also changed over the years.

The County Mayo section of this website will focus on Civil Parish, Roman Catholic Parish, and Townlands to document families.