John M. Hayes (priest)

  (Redirected from Canon John Hayes)

John Martin Hayes (1887–1957) was an Irish Catholic priest and the founder of Muintir na Tíre, a national rural community development organisation.

Hayes was born in a Land League hut at Murroe, Co Limerick. Five of his brothers and sisters died of malnutrition and disease before he reached seven years of age. He was educated by the Jesuits at Crescent College, Limerick and thereafter studied for the priesthood in St. Patrick's College, Thurles. In 1907 he went to the Irish College in Paris where he was ordained in 1913. From 1915 to 1924 he worked in Liverpool before returning to Ireland to serve as curate in Castleiney and later in Tipperary Town.

Hayes came to national prominence with the foundation of Muintir na Tíre in 1937, which had core principles of neighbourliness, self-help and self-sufficiency. He was appointed parish priest of Bansha & Kilmoyler in 1946. Due largely to his endeavours, a factory - Bansha Rural Industries - was started and enjoyed some success producing preserves for the Irish home market. Bansha was to the forefront in developing many Muintir na Tíre initiatives and for a time in the 1950s enjoyed the soubriquet of The Model Parish.

He spearheaded many initiatives including rural electrification, the "Parish Plan for Agriculture", and the setting up of small industry in rural areas in an attempt to stop emigration. He was later made a canon of his cathedral chapter. Hayes died in February, 1957 in a Tipperary nursing home following a minor operation. His funeral in Bansha was a national occasion, attended by leaders of Church and State. His grave is at the rear of the Church of the Annunciation, Bansha. He was later commemorated on an Irish postage stamp.


  • Rynne, Stephen (1960). Father John Hayes: founder of Muintir na Tire, People of the Land. Clonmore and Reynolds.