County Mayo’s name means “plain of the Yew trees” and is named after the village of Mayo Abbey. St Colman Bishop of Lindisfarne, founded a monastery for a group of Saxon monks called the School of Mayo in the early 1670s. Mayo Abbey being the place of both the historical and spiritual roots of the County.
Mayo is also home to Croagh Patrick where thousands of pilgrims climb annually.
Mayo currently has a population of around 138,000 according to the last census. The major towns are Castlebar, Ballina, Claremorris, Westport. Generally, there would be roughly probably around 20 percent church attendance – a vast difference from even 10 years ago. However, people still attend funerals and weddings in the Catholic church and in fact funerals have become the place where the community’s gather in support of grieving families.
Some outreach takes place in some schools with NET teams or NUA or Youth Alpha.
Various prayer meetings and ministry groups work in Mayo – in the churches and independently.
Scriptures received in prayer and promises:
Psalm 123; As servants looking to the hand of their master… we look to the mercy of the Lord as we pray for Mayo.
Is 59: the challenge to repentance and prayer and promise of “from the west, people will fear the name of the Lord….”
Matthew 12:20 “..a dimly burning wick He will not snuff out until He brings justice to victory!” At times we have felt like a dimly burning wick, but He promises to take us forward in victory.
Micah 7:14 “Shepherd your people with your sceptre, the flock of your heritage, which dwells by itself in the woodland, in the midst of a fruitful field. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old…” A beautiful prayer and promise given of restoration of fruitfulness and feeding on the word of God for the people of Mayo.
Social issues and youth:
Like most other places in Ireland I think the Travelling community face the biggest social challenges with a number of the men involved with substance abuse and mistreatment of their wives, who return to them afterwards. At times the children cannot attend school or are removed into care. Housing is a complicated issue for them.
Mayo actually has a pretty good community network who can be contacted about areas of concern (they are even loosely linked to the Parish Councils). It is called Mayo Public Participation Network. Likewise, there are some good counselling services run out of Knock and Castlebar which have supported many people, including young people. These wouldn't be directly sharing the gospel though.
There are a good number of youth clubs, sports, musical, theatre etc which have helped keep Mayo's youth generally socially responsible. Last year 35 children arrested, the lowest number over the past five years. That’s positive and encouraging. The biggest challenge in the area of youth is suicide. This is an issue across Ireland.
More workers in the field and renewed ways of reaching people e.g. the Wild Atlantic Way where locals and tourists alike visit.
Psalm 80:7-19 “Restore us O Lord and let Your face shine upon us…”
Sadly, many are disinterested in the Lord not realising they were never fully taught a personal relationship, thus don’t realise they have become inoculated against the gospel. Pray for this to be reversed. Also, the whole Brexit issue laid bare some deep hurt still in this County going back to the famine. (This was rather surprising but has come up in several conversations I have had.)
On the other hand, there are a good number of deeply committed traditional folk who would die for their faith who love the Lord and live godly lives. They wouldn’t necessarily ever mix with other denominations. Pray for this to change.
The current confusion and challenge in society in so many ways would draw people to Jesus – but also that they would know a real and genuine joy in their salvation.
Declare the gifts given to Mayo and her inhabitants (beauty, heritage, creativity, generosity, hospitality, family etc)
Declare life, hope and a spirit of praise over Mayo.
Seen some growth in unity but pray for more – a greater understanding and appreciation of each other in the Body of Christ. Also a desire to understand differences with goodwill and to recognise cultural differences (e.g. language) within traditions.
Pray for the Mayo Public Participation Network. For resource and encouragement in all they do. For counselling services to be funded and resourced.
Pray for the right solutions and help for the Travelling community and their families.
Give thanks for the many opportunities there are for young folk. Pray for workers in ‘the field’ of youth, for resources both practical, personal and helpful.
from Kathy Nicholls, Bert and Val Verner. December 2022