Search Results for 'High sheriff'
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The High Sheriff of Mayo was the British Crown’s representative in the county from the post’s creation in 1583 until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. In a country where ownership of land carried huge prestige, the landed had to protect what they held by securing positions of power. So it was in County Mayo that the dominant families of Browne, Bingham and Gore isolated the role of High Sheriff largely for themselves up until the 19th century at least, from which time family names such as O’Donel, Knox, Blake and others appear in the records as holders of the office.
On the night of August 18, 1882, five members of one family, John Joyce, his wife Brighid, his mother Mairéad, his daughter Peigí, and his son Micheál, were murdered in Maamtrasna on the Galway/Mayo border. The motive for this multiple murder is unclear, but John was suspected of sheep stealing, his mother of being an informer, and his daughter of cavorting with the RIC who would have been the natural enemy of the locals. Two members of the family survived the horrific attack; a nine-year-old boy, Patsy, who was badly injured, and his older brother Máirtín who was working for a family in a neighbouring farm on the night.