The Inaugural Mayo History Conference is to be held in the Gateway Hotel, Swinford, from Friday March 1 to Sunday, March 3, as part of the town’s 250 Plus celebrations.

This bustling east Mayo town was established in the second half of the eighteenth century by the Brabazon family, who received land in the area under the Cromwellian Settlement 1652-53. They probably named the town after a village near one of their seats in Leicestershire in England, where the family originated, but it could have been influenced by a local ford that had an association with a pig market.

Members of the Brabazon family will be attending the conference. It is planned that the Mayo History Conference will become an annual event in the county’s calendar and held in different locations over the years.

Mayo History  Conference Schedule

Friday, 1st March  – Official Opening, 8pm

The weekend will commence on Friday evening, 1 March, at 8pm with the official opening by Charles Bourke, Earl of Mayo, a man who can trace his ancestry back before William the Conqueror in France. The official opening will be followed by ‘Swinford History’, a DVD presentation by filmmaker Breege Rowley, followed by a lecture by local historian, Michael Comer.

The Friday evening session is free of charge.

 Saturday, 2nd March

Registration: 9am

The Mayo History Conference will commence on Saturday morning at 9am with registration (Price: €30 euro for the day including lunch, tea/coffee).

The main theme is ‘Mayo People through the Ages’, with constant new arrivals and how they integrated with the native culture and assimilated in it.

Session 1: 9.30am 

Lecture on ‘Archaeological and Historical Settlement in County Mayo’ by Bernard O’Hara, author of Exploring Mayo, followed by ‘Irish Rock Art from Cork to Mayo’ by Finola Finlay and Robert Harris, Irish Rock Art researchers.

Session 2: (Time TBC)

The second session deals with ‘Seventeenth Century Land Settlements in County Mayo’ by Dr John Cunningham, Queen’s University Belfast, and ‘The Brownes of Westport’ by Anne Chambers, historical biographer.

Session 3: 2pm

The third session at 2pm covers ‘Ulster Migration 1795/6 to County Mayo’ by Michael Brabazon, Mayo historian, followed by ‘The Peoples of Mayo Through the Ages – An Overview’ by Dr Nollaig Ó Muraíle, a leading Irish scholar and historian.

Session 4: 4pm

The final session of the conference at 4pm is a Hedge School Open Forum with wide audience participation, chaired by Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland. This feature has proved to be very popular at history conferences around the country.

Sunday, March 3rd – Historical Walking Tour and visit to Hennigan’s Heritage Centre

There is a walking tour of Swinford on Sunday morning at 11pm, led by Michael Comer and Micheál Murphy, followed by a visit to Hennigan’s Heritage Centre at 2pm.

Mayo History Conference booking details

Booking details and full particulars can be obtained from swinford250@swinford.ie (087-6412785 or 087-2424579)

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