County Mayo, which is located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Connacht, had a population at the time of the Great Famine of almost half a million. The haemorrhage of emigration in the past century and a half has reduced the population to a little over one fifth of this figure. Emigration has generated a Mayo Diaspora of millions. In recent years there have been an increasing number of people eager to discover more about their Mayo Roots.
To facilitate the amount of ancestral enquiries and to ensure the highest possible standard of service, capturing vital local knowledge, the Centre was appointed by the Irish Family History Foundation as the official family history research centre for the southern half of County Mayo.
Emigrants from Mayo in the early 1700s settled in Jamaica and Monserrat. By the end of the 1700s emigrants were leaving for Australia, the U.S.A. and Canada. Emigration from South Mayo as a result of the Great Famine was chiefly to New York, Boston, Philadelphia and the north of England.
By the end of the 19th century the US cities of New York, Jersey City, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, and the English cities of Liverpool, London and Manchester received the bulk of South Mayo emigrants. Down the years descendants of these emigrant communities have attained prestige in commence, the military, education and the arts while still maintaining an interest in their ancestral heritage.
The South Mayo Family History Centre is member of the Irish Family History Foundation.