Irish Superstitions: Mayo and the Curse of '51

Irish Superstitions: Mayo and the Curse of '51

IRELAND IS known as being a fairly superstitious country.

Back in the day it seems there was always a curse on someone or something. Curses were doled out like they were going out of fashion—which in a way they were.

It’s not often you’ll hear about someone being cursed in modern day Ireland, but there is one story that remains, and with each passing year seems to be further proven as real.

Nobody can deny that Mayo are some of the strongest footballers in the country. The team have made it to the All-Ireland final multiple times, and each year the determined fans are insistent that this is the year; this is the one; #Mayo4Sam.

But despite strong performances year after year, Mayo haven’t won the All Ireland Football Final for almost 70 years.

Some blame the pressure of getting to the final affecting the players’ nerves on the day, but most make reference to the infamous Curse of ’51.

1951: The last time Mayo successfully brought home the Sam Maguire cup, after a stand-off with Meath whom they beat easily.

The story goes that the Mayo team, loudly and energetically celebrating their win, were passing through the town of Foxford on their way home from the match, when they came across a funeral.

Too excited by their victory to remember Irish funeral etiquette, the team failed to stop and pay their respects to the deceased, instead carrying on their noisy party, and a furious priest—or woman, depending on which version of the story you hear—accosted them and forced them to stop.

The priest denounced the team and set the curse upon them, promising that Mayo would never again win an All Ireland until every one of the current team had died.

It’s easy to dismiss this type of story, but it has now been 68 years since the last time Mayo won the cup, despite making it to the finals nine times since 1989 alone.

There is only one remaining member of the notorious 1951 team still alive today—Mr Paddy Prendergast, who lives in Tralee, County Kerry.

With each passing year, Mayo fans grow more frustrated with the team’s inability to make the final hurdle: last year, Pope Francis visited Ireland and obliged one desperate Mayo fan by signing and blessing a team jersey.

Mayo and Dublin will meet in this year's semi final, on August 10, with a place in the All Ireland football final up for grabs on September 1.

They've won the Sam Maguire cup four years on the trot, and to stop the Dubs claiming a record-breaking five in a row, Mayo will have to shake the Curse of ’51.