John Hayes was born in Limerick in 1887. He trained for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Thurles and at the Irish college in Paris. Ordained in 1913 his first appointment was as a curate to the parish of Kilbeg and Staholmog, Co. Meath. He promoted a better social life for the parishioners and tackled drunkenness. He organised a temperance concert at Carlanstown. Hayes also urged support for the Irish Volunteers. In October 1914 the Kilbeg branch of the Volunteers under the chairmanship of Rev. J. Hayes congratulated John Redmond on the passing of the Home Rule Act and expressing confidence in the new executive of the National Volunteers. In 1915 he was transferred to Liverpool. In 1924 Hayes returned to Ireland and serve din parishes in Limerick. He became an advocate of rural industries and rural development. During a visit to Rome he met Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, whom he admired. In 1931 Hayes called a meeting in Dublin to establish Muintir na Tíre, as a promoter of rural self-help and self-sufficiency. In 1934 he was transferred to Tipperary town. Muintir na Tíre guilds were established at a parish level throughout Ireland to act as rural self-help groups. The guilds became involved in promoting rural electrification and rural weeks or festivals. Community Halls were built in almost every parish. Hayes became a national figure spreading the word of rural self-help. In his own words: “if you build a wall, plenty of neighbours will come and watch, with their hands in their pockets, and will tell you it’s not much of a wall. But it’s better to build a crooked wall than to build no wall at all and let your property go to ruin. There will always be more prudent people to advise you not to start anything new. But more harm is done by doing nothing than by doing something”. Canon Hayes was a superb orator. Branches of Muintir na Tíre were established in parishes throughout Ireland with many being founded in Meath. Canon Hayes died in 1957 and is buried at Bansha in Co. Tipperary.