Muintir na Tíre was founded in 1937 by John Canon Hayes, the first unit of which was launched in Tipperary Town in November of that year. This was the beginning of Canon Hayes’ rural community idea which was to develop and expand into a comprehensive movement designed to raise the standard of living of people in all aspects of Irish rural life. The emphasis was on local improvement – social, economic, cultural and recreational – based on the participation of people themselves in the promotion of the welfare of their community.

The organisation had three broad objectives:

1. To unite Irish communities in a spirit of community service, neighbourliness and self-reliance in
working for the common good.
2. To promote the welfare of the Irish people through an organisation or association that would be
non-sectional and non-party political.
3. To foster a sense of responsibility to the needs and problems of the local community, and to devise
programmes of action and development, especially those based on co-operation.

Initially Muintir na Tíre was a movement serving the rural community only but its all embracing philosophy of self-help and self-reliance now takes in urban as well as rural communities.
Since the outset the movement has been acutely concerned about preserving the quality of life of the people of this country and the need to create the necessary favourable milieu or environment in which economic and social and other development can take place.

From the early 1960’s the organisation adopted the United Nations definition of the Community Development process which states that it is a “process designed to create conditions of economic and social progress for the whole community with the fullest possible reliance upon the community’s own initiative”.
This process has been used widely by Muintir na Tíre for local development since that time.