Cill Ala
Shops on the Ballycastle Road in Killala
Shops on the Ballycastle Road in Killala
Killala is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°12′45″N 09°13′17″W / 54.21250°N 9.22139°W / 54.21250; -9.22139
CountyCounty Mayo
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid ReferenceG206286

Killala (Irish: Cill Ala, meaning 'the mottled church'[2]) is a village in County Mayo in Ireland, north of Ballina. The railway line from Dublin to Ballina once extended to Killala. To the west of Killala is the townland of Townsplots West (known locally as Enagh Beg), which contains a number of ancient forts.[citation needed] Historically associated with Saint Patrick, and the seat of an episcopal see for several centuries, evidence of Killala's ecclesiastical past include a 12th century round tower and the 17th century Cathedral Church of St Patrick.[3] As of the 2016 census of Ireland, the village had a population of 562.[1]


Ecclesiastical history

Killala Round Tower
Killala Round Tower
Killana town
Killana town

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Killala (Alladenis in Latin) is one of the five suffragan sees of the ecclesiastical Province of Tuam, comprising the north-western part of the County Mayo with the Barony of Tireragh in the County Sligo. In all there are 22 parishes, some of which, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, consist mostly of wild moorland, sparsely inhabited. Lewis's Topographical Dictionary sets down the length of the diocese as 45 miles (72 km), the breadth 21 mi (34 km), and the estimated superficies as 314,300 acres (1,272 km2) – of which 43,100 acres (174 km2) are in County Sligo and 271,200 acres (1,098 km2) in County Mayo.

The foundation of the diocese dates from the time of Saint Patrick, who placed his disciple St. Muredach over the church called in Irish Cell Alaid.[4] In a well that still flows close to the town, local suggests that Patrick baptized 12,000 converts on a single day.[4] Muredach is described as an old man of Patrick's family, and was appointed to the Church of Killala as early as 442 or 443.[4] It is possible that he resigned his see after a few years, and retired to end his life on an island in Donegal Bay, which now bears his name, Inishmurray.[4] At Killala, Patrick reputedly also baptized the two maidens whom he met in childhood at Focluth Wood by the western sea, and whose voices in visions of the night had apparently called to him.[4] He came, baptized them and built them a church where they spent the rest of their days as nuns.[4]

Little is known of the successors of Muredach in Killala down to the 12th century. According to an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, the "people of Killala recall that John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, was a child of their diocese".[4] He became Coadjutor Bishop of Killala in 1825, bishop in 1834, and later in the same year was transferred to Tuam. He died in 1881. After him came Dr Finan, a Dominican priest.[4] On his resignation in 1838, a parish priest of the Archdiocese of Tuam, Rev. Thomas Feeney, who had formerly been professor and president of St. Jarlath's College at Tuam, was chosen for the post.[4]

Along the left bank of the river are the ruins of several monasteries. Rosserk, a Franciscan house of strict observance, was founded in 1460. The Abbey of Moyne still stands on a site just over the river, and further on, north of Killala, was the Dominican Rathfran Friary. On the promontory of Errew running into Lough Conn stood another monastery. A round tower in Killala itself is still standing.[4]

18th century

By the end of the 18th century, Killala had established a small sea port, where fishing was the primary activity. The town also produced coarse linens and woollen products.[5]

French invasion

Killala was the site of the first engagement, during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, to involve the French force of General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert. On 22 August 1798, Humbert landed at nearby Kilcummin Harbor with 1,109 French troops, with the objective of supporting the rebellion. Humbert's force quickly seized the town and advanced to Ballina, which his men also captured with little trouble. The force then moved further inland and on 27 August, it won a battle in Castlebar against a larger government force commanded by General Gerard Lake.[6] The town was also the site of the last land engagement of the rebellion on 23 September 1798 when a government force led by Major-General Eyre Power Trench captured Killala.[citation needed]



Killala has a harbour at the south end of Killala Bay.


The R314 road connects Killala south to Ballina (and the N26 and N59 roads) and north to Ballycastle.

Bus Éireann route 445 serves Killala a few times a day on weekdays with service to Ballina and Ballycastle.[7]


The line from Ballina to Killala opened on 2 January 1893. It took two years and £29,000 to complete the line, carrying both passengers and freight, the line had a total of five gatehouses, one tunnel and four bridges. At Killala station there was a turntable, two sidings, a signal cabin and a stationmaster's house that is now privately owned. The line proved to be unprofitable and was discontinued for passengers on 1 October 1931 and finally for goods on 1 July 1934.


Asahi manufactured acrylic fibre from acrylonitrile which was transported to Ballina railway station by rail from Dublin Port. The former Midland Great Western Railway line to Killala had been dismantled and built over prior to the factory's establishment south of the village in the 1970s so the remainder of the journey was completed by road. This facility closed in 1997.[8] A proposal to handle asbestos waste at the Asahi site was withdrawn in 2005 due to strong local opposition.[citation needed]

As of 2011, a 50 MW combined heat and power plant using biomass fuel was planned for the former Asahi site.[9][needs update] A nearby 20 MW wind farm has a 10 MW battery.[10]

A transatlantic communications cable was expected to come ashore at Killala in 2013 en route to Northern Ireland as part of "Project Kelvin".[11][needs update]

Places of interest

Killala's round tower is the last remaining medieval structure of a monastic establishment, thought to have been built in the 12th century. The monastery is traditionally said to have been founded here by Saint Patrick, who appointed St. Muiredach as the first bishop of Killala.[12] The tower stands 52 metres (170 feet) high, and it is composed of limestone.[13]

The Cathedral Church of St. Patrick, built in the 1670s, is one of two Cathedral churches belonging to the Church of Ireland's Diocese of Tuam, Limerick and Killaloe.[14]


Killala was used as a location for the 1981 television series The Year of the French which was based on the novel by Thomas Flanagan.[citation needed]

In 1989, sculptor Carmel Gallagher unveiled a bust of General Humbert in the area to mark the then upcoming bicentennial of the 1798 Rebellion. In 1998, Killala celebrated the bicentenary of this event by twinning with the commune of Chauvé in France.[citation needed]


See also: Category:People from Killala


  1. ^ a b "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Killala". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Cill Ala/Killala". Placenames Database of Ireland. Government of Ireland – Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Dublin City University. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Killala" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). 1911.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Killala". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  5. ^ Kearsley, George (1803). Kearsley's traveller's entertaining guide through Great Britain. London: G. Kearsley.
  6. ^ Gribayedoff, Valerian Gribayedoff (1890). The French Invasion of Ireland in '98. New York: Charles B. Summersby. ISBN 3337192882.
  7. ^ "Regional Services by County". Bus Éireann. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  8. ^ Tom Shiel and Tom Kelly (16 July 1997) 'Decommissioning' of Asahi plant to begin. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  9. ^ Construction of Killala plant expected to begin in November. (5 July 2011). Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  10. ^ "10.8MW battery system co-located with Greencoat Renewables' Killala wind farm enters commissioning". Solar Power Portal. February 2022.
  11. ^ Transatlantic fibre optic cable to come ashore in Mayo. (6 December 2011). Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  12. ^ Gwynn, A. and Hadcock, R.N. (1970). Medieval religious houses of Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "The Five Round Towers of Mayo". North Mayo. 17 April 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Welcome to the Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Killala". Welcome to the Cathedral Church of St Patrick, Killala. Retrieved 17 September 2022.