Béal an Átha
|Coordinates: 54°07′00″N 9°10′00″W / 54.1167°N 9.1667°WCoordinates: 54°07′00″N 9°10′00″W / 54.1167°N 9.1667°W|
|Elevation||7 m (23 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC±0 (WET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (IST)|
|Eircode routing key|
|Telephone area code||+353(0)96|
|Irish Grid Reference||G240192|
Ballina (/ˌbæləˈnɑː/ bal-ən-A; Irish: Béal an Átha, meaning 'mouth of the ford') is a town in north County Mayo, Ireland. It lies at the mouth of the River Moy near Killala Bay, in the Moy valley and Parish of Kilmoremoy, with the Ox Mountains to the east and the Nephin Beg mountains to the west. The town occupies two baronies; Tirawley on the west bank of the Moy River, and Tireragh, a barony within County Sligo, on its east banks. As of 2016[update], the population of Ballina was 10,171.
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the first signs of settlement on the site of the town date from around 1375 when an Augustinian friary was founded. Belleek, now part of the town, pre-dates the town's formation, and can be dated back to the 16th century. Ballina was founded as a garrison town in 1723 by O'Hara, Lord Tyrawley. Belleek Castle was built some time later, between 1825 and 1831.
The Dolmen of the Four Maols is located on 'Primrose Hill' behind Ballina's Railway Station. This Bronze Age cist is sometimes dated to c2,000 B.C. and is locally known as the 'Table of the Giants'. Legend suggests that the dolmen is the burial place of the four Maols (from the Irish word maol meaning "bald") – four brothers who murdered Ceallach, a 7th-century Bishop of Kilmoremoy. Quartered at Ardnaree, the "hill of executions", tradition says that their bodies were buried under the dolmen.
The Belleek demesne once stretched for over three kilometres along the left bank of the Moy estuary, from the gate lodge on Castle Road as far as Knockatinnole Wood in the north. From here the demesne extended westward to the Killala Road where there was a secondary entrance at a place known as "The Black Woods". During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, a small column of French soldiers advanced through the estate, as part of a reconnaissance group. This gave title to the avenue known as "The Old French Road". The manor house on the estate is Belleek Manor (Belleek Castle Hotel) which was constructed from 1831 for Sir Francis Knox-Gore, a former Lord Lieutenant of Sligo, to designs attributed to the Irish architect John Benjamin Keane. Belleek remained within the ownership of the Knox-Gore family until 1942, when it was sold by William Arthur Cecil Saunders-Knox-Gore (1888-1975) due to mounting costs and rates.
The River Moy forms the traditional county border between Mayo and Sligo. However, the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 made the right (east) bank of the Moy, including Ardnaree and Crockets Town (the Quay), part of the administrative county of Mayo. This is a suburb of Ballina. The Battle of Ardnaree was fought there in 1586. Ardnaree Sarsfields GFC is based there.
A centenary memorial (known as the Humbert Monument) was dedicated on 11 May 1898 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French landing at Killala in support of the 1798 rebellion. The monument was originally sculptured by a Dublin craftsman but subsequently restored locally. The figure on the monument is not Humbert but Mother Ireland. Maud Gonne unveiled the monument, and at the unveiling event famously poured water over another speaker's (an IRB member) head. The monument was moved to its current location on Humbert Street in 1987, where it was re-dedicated by Maud Gonne's son, Seán MacBride.
In the first half of the 19th century, the rural areas around Ballina were heavily dependent on the potato as a primary source of food. When a potato blight struck in 1846, widespread starvation occurred. The Ballina workhouse served the entire northwestern coast of Mayo. As the famine took hold in the rural areas, huge numbers of starving peasants requested admission to the overcrowded facility. In February 1847 people were dying of fever at the rate of almost ninety persons a week. There were attempts at mitigating the crisis by some local citizens. Francis Kinkead, the Church of Ireland curate in Ballina, who came to Ballina in 1837 and died on 27 January 1847, played a role in organising funds to help relieve the suffering of both the Catholic and Protestant populations. A marble memorial tablet on the wall of the Church of Ireland in Ballina is dedicated to Kinkead.
From its foundation until the early 1900s, the Irish language was the primary language spoken in Ballina. As Irish began to decline in other parts of Ireland during the colonial period, it remained strong in County Mayo and in Ballina. By the 1920s, however, English had become the dominant language in Ballina. In the 1926 Census it was found that although many adults in Ballina had Irish as a first language, it was no longer known by young people or used in the community. Ballina was one of the only parts of County Mayo not designated status as a Gaeltacht or 'Breac-Ghaeltacht,' a status given in 1929 to regions where more than 80% or 25% respectively of people spoke Irish as a first language.
Ballina and Westport were among the first urban areas in County Mayo to adopt the English language. Records from the surrounding then Irish-speaking rural areas in Mayo and in neighbouring County Sligo suggest that Irish-speakers from those areas felt pressure to use English when in Ballina. Today only Ceathrú Thaidhg, 70 km to the west of Ballina remains a majority Irish-speaking area in County Mayo.
The town's architectural heritage includes the 15th-century Moyne Abbey, and St Muredach's Cathedral, which is the Cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killala. Work on the cathedral began in 1827. The stone was quarried locally and the roof and ceiling were completed before the Great Famine (1845). The spire was completed in 1855 and by 1875 the organ had been commissioned.
Ballina has a number of listed buildings including Georgian housing on the banks of the Moy, the Ice House building (since converted into a hotel), and the former provincial bank (now housing the Jackie Clarke Museum). The streets of Ballina consist mainly of three and four-storey Georgian and Victorian buildings, though the structures of several buildings are far older.
The primary schools that serve the town include Scoil Iosa of the Convent of Mercy (mixed), Scoil Padraig (all-boys), the Quay NS (mixed), Culleens NS on the Killala Road (mixed), Breaffy NS (mixed), Behy NS (mixed) and Scoil na gCeithre Maol (mixed), a gaelscoil situated on the Killala road. There are also at least three Montessori schools and many pre-schools.
There are three secondary schools; St Muredach's College (all-male), Moyne College (mixed), and St Mary's of the Convent of Mercy (all-female).
A large, modern facility opened on McDermott Street (convent road) for the 2009–2010 school year to serve the needs of children with mild learning disabilities. It is an amalgamation of the 2 old special needs schools, St. Dympna's and St. Nicholas'.
The Newman Institute is located in a building near St Muredach's Cathedral. It is a charitable organisation working in conjunction with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killala in the field of Catholic education.
Ballina is one of the towns due to have a MAN (Metropolitan Area Network): the ductings and fiber optic cables are in place,[when?] but with no ISP connections. The MANs are being built for the Department of Communications; they are due to be run by a private operator, but remain the property of the government.
BCRfm (Ballina Community Radio) is the community radio station in the town. The Western People is a local newspaper, based in Ballina, which was previously also printed at its premises in the town. Two weekly freesheets, the Mayo Advertiser and The Northwest Express are distributed throughout Ballina. There is also a monthly magazine called "Mayo Now" that was launched in March 2015. The Connaught Telegraph, published in Castlebar, and the Mayo News, published in Westport, also carry local news related to Ballina, though are less popular locally. Mid West Radio is the local station, with an office in the town.
Historically, a number of newspapers have been directly linked with the town, including:
[ M/W = merged with; C/A = continued as ]
Throughout the 1980s, Ballina had a number of local radio stations before the advent of legalised local radio in 1989. These stations included: ARW – Alternative Radio West, which operated from Lord Edward Street, Castle Radio – which was based in Belleek Castle, Westward Radio – broadcast from Howley Street (Later Teeling St), Holiday FM and TCR both of which were based on Tone Street.
The N26 is the main road to Dublin: it leaves the town south to Foxford, and after Swinford joins the N5 to Dublin. N59 comes from Belmullet and Crossmolina in the west, and goes through the town to Sligo to the northeast. The R314 is a regional road to Killala, and then Ballycastle. The R294 goes to south County Sligo via 'the Windy Gap' in the Ox Mountains. It is used as an alternative route to Dublin, via Tubbercurry and Boyle.
There are two main bridges straddling the Moy in the town centre. The first, the Armstrong and West, or Lower bridge, was built in 1835. The second, the Hamm bridge or Upper bridge, was built in the following year of 1836 by Thomas Hamm at a cost of £3,000.00. Both bridges are limestone, and have 4 and 5 arches respectively. Traffic flows in a one-way direction around these 2 bridges and is often heavily backed up on both sides, the reason for calls for a third bridge further down the river.
The Salmon Weir Bridge is a pedestrian bridge over the River Moy from Barrett St. to Ridge Pool Rd. The bridge, which was designed to resemble a fishing rod, was opened in July 2009.
Ballina Bus Station is host to a Bus Éireann bus depot. Bus Éireann have stated that they intend to develop services similar to the 24-hour Dublin-Belfast route on the Ballina-Dublin route. The route currently runs seven services a day between Ballina and the capital. In 2007 Bus Éireann launched a direct bus from Dublin Airport to Ballina. A Ballina to Enniscrone bus is run by several companies during the summer months.
Ballina railway station is located on the N26 beside the bus station. Departing trains stop at Foxford before terminating at Manulla junction where passengers can connect to trains going to Castlebar, Westport or Dublin (Heuston Station). Trains to Dublin operate three times daily and on Friday evenings a train operates direct from Dublin to Ballina. Ballina is a major rail freight hub, with a direct freight line from the town to Waterford Port transporting pulpwood for Coillte, and as of late 2009, a direct Dublin Port line. While it was suggested that the line from the Manulla junction to Ballina be closed, CIÉ subsequently stated that it has no intention to close this line.
Ireland West Airport Knock (Knock Airport, NOC) is about 50.7 km, or 31.5 miles from Ballina. Bus Éireann now runs a shuttle service about five times a day from the airport to Charlestown, from where commuters can get a connecting bus to Ballina.
Ballina's entertainment scene is supported by a number of traditional pubs, late bars and a variety of restaurants.
The old Newman Institute building on Barrett Street is home to the Ballina Arts Centre, which was redeveloped to incorporate a new auditorium, dance studio, rehearsal space, exhibition gallery and coffee shop between 2009 and 2011.
In 2009, the Jackie Clarke Collection went on display when the Clarke Museum opened in the old provincial bank. During his lifetime, Clarke sourced and purchased a number of rare documents, including sole surviving copies of publications, rare handbills and proclamations, unpublished manuscripts and political writings. He donated his collections to the state, under the condition that they would stay in Ballina.
Ballina's location on the River Moy favours salmon fishing, and one of the best spots, the Ridge Pool, is situated in the heart of the town. The Ballina Salmon Festival is held annually in July in the town. The festival includes Heritage Day, where most of the centre of the town is closed to traffic and the streets fill with arts and craft stalls and demonstrations of transport from days gone by. The festival finale is a Mardi Gras followed by a monster fireworks display
Tourist attractions include two museums in the town, the Jackie Clarke Collection and Belleek Castle Museum.
Ballina Stephenites, is one of the local Gaelic Athletic Association club teams. The name also refers to the town's Gaelic Athletic Association grounds, James Stephens Park.
Ballina Town and Ballina United are two of the town's soccer clubs, the former playing their home matches at Belleek Park. Ballina R.F.C. is located in the Quay and compete in division 2B of the All Ireland League.
Ballina's athletics club has a floodlight outdoor 400m track and a cross country pitch which sometimes holds the AAI Connacht and Mayo finals. The local triathlon club, Liquid Motion, holds a triathlon in the town every summer.
In basketball, Team Loftus Recycling represent the town in Men's Division 1. Ballina also has Mayo's only Gymnastics Training Centre, Nadia Gym. The town also has a martial arts school, Moy Valley Freestyle, and a Jikishin Kage-ryu kenjutsu club.
Ballina Golf Club is an 18-hole parkland golf course on the outskirts of the town on the Bonniconlon Road.
A short lived greyhound racing track was opened by the Ballina Greyhound Racing Company Ltd in the town on 6 May 1948. The site near Coolcran farm was replaced by the Dunleavy cattle farm market in 1956.
A great-great-grandfather of United States president Joe Biden came from Ballina. Biden visited the town in 2016 and returned again in 2023.
Ballina is twinned with:
Humbert despatched [sic] a small group of French to reconnoitre the strength of the British garrison at Ballina; the group [..] came through the Belleek demesne