Mayo Abbey is a small village in south Mayo, just outside of Balla, approximately 16km to the south of Castlebar and 10km northwest of Claremorris. It is steeped in history and well worth a visit.
A monastic settlement founded by St Colman in 668, predating Ballintubber Abbey, Mayo Abbey was already three hundred years old when Viking Dublin was founded. A university was established in Mayo Abbey and it quickly became a renowned European centre of learning. By the year 700 AD., the monastery had become a famous seat of learning with more than one hundred monks living there. It became known throughout Christendom as "Mayo of the Saxons." The names of many of the early Saints appear in the Annals as having studied at or visited "Mayo of the Saxons". It is reputed that the son of King Alfred the Great attended the University and is buried in Mayo Abbey.
A Norman town was founded at Mayo and an Augustinian Abbey was built on the site of the original monastery c.1400, the ruins of which are still visible today.
The town flourished and was of sufficient size and importance by the end of the sixteenth century to give its name to County Mayo, during the Composition of Connacht under Sir Henry Sidney in 1595.