Located in Aughleam at the tip of scenic Mullet Peninsula, the Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre gives the visitor an insight into the past history and culture of this west Mayo area in times past. With Blacksod Bay to the south and east and the Atlantic along the western shoreline, this is one of the most stunningly beautiful and unspoilt landscapes in Ireland. The centre was officially opened in August 1997 by then President, Mary Robinson.
Ionad Deirbhile’s Assisted Emigration Exhibition provides the visitor with a unique opportunity to understand the plight of the people of North West Mayo who emigrated to Canada and the United States in the years 1883-1884. During these two short years over 3,300 people from the region (including entire families) boarded the ships of the Allan Line at Blacksod Bay, emigrating to Boston and Québec. These emigrations were assisted by ‘The Tuke Fund’, named after James Hack Tuke, a Quaker who spent over 60 years of his life striving to eradicate poverty and deprivation in the West of Ireland.
The exhibition brings to life those who had no choice but to leave their homeland and provides a listing of each man, woman and child who departed these shores. Visit the memorial garden at An Fód Dubh (Blacksod) which was created in 2013, marking the 130th anniversary of the first emigration sailing.
Discover a former way of life that involved currach fishing and the construction of the distinctive local houses. Artefacts on display include local crafts such as creels baskets woven from sally rods that were packed with turf and carried from the bog to home by donkeys, quilt making and straw hats. These were made from straw and worn by strawboys who attended local Erris weddings in the house of the bride to dance with both the bride and guests. The hats were also adorned with stripes of red and green cloth which are the traditional Mayo colours.
A unique feature of the building is a 3 metres high stained glass window illustrating the story of St Deirbhile, after whom the centre is named. The ruins of her 6th Century church, (a national monument) are in the old Fál Mór cemetery, while close by in the sand dunes, lies a holy well also named after her.