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Ballina (Béal an Átha or Béal Átha an Fheadha,), translated as meaning the ‘Mouth of the Ford’ is known as the Gateway to North Mayo. Located by the N26, it is the largest town in County Mayo with an urban population of up to 15,000 people and an additional 30,000 in the hinterland. Ballina is situated on the estuary of the River Moy. It is also the cathedral town of the Catholic diocese of Killala. Ballina is renowned as an angling centre, with excellent river, sea and lake waters within easy reach. The famous Ridge Pool in the town is one of the premier tourist attractions in Ireland. A regular visitor to the pool is the former manager of
the Irish soccer team, Jack Charlton, who has a holiday home nearby. The annual Balina Salmon Festival held in July is one of the most popular in the country. Ballina has excellent sports and leisure facilities including an indoor heated swimming pool. Founded in 1723 by Lord Tyrawley, Ballina quickly developed into an important commercial town and seaport. General Humbert and his Franco-Irish force captured the town in 1798 (the Humbert Monument commemorates the event). The oldest monument in the town is the ruin of a megalithic tomb, near the railway station, known locally as 'the Dolmen of the Four
Maols'. Near the cathedral are the ruins of an early 14th century Augustinian Friary. The cathedral (1823) has a beautiful interior with some fine glass windows. Ballina is the birthplace of Mary Robinson (née Bourke), who became the seventh President of Ireland on 3rd December 1990, the first woman to hold that office. Ballina is surrounded by areas of outstanding beauity including Lacken, Ross and Enniscrone Beaches. Killala Bay is famous for its excellent deep sea fishing while the River Moy is recognised as a world famous salmon fishing river and attracts up to forty different nationalities each year.
Ballina Salmon Festival
Ballina, 9th-16th July
Now in its 52nd year, the annual Ballina Salmon Festival has grown to become one of the most popular festivals in the West of Ireland. Each year over 100,000 visitors enjoy a family orientated, action-packed festival of entertainment and fun. The festival combines the authentic experience of culture, crafts and old Irish tradition with new exciting attractions and events like the Krazy Kart Race and the Teddy Bears Picnic. The festival finishes with a bang as the famous Mardi Gras and fireworks light up the town.
Swinford, 4th-8th August
If you’re looking for that quintessential Irish Festival, Siamsa Sráide Swinford is the one for you. The summer street festival boasts an excellent open-air Céilí along with dancing, a Heritage Day and the acclaimed International Busking Competitions. The festival also hosts history walks and talks, poetry recitals, a children’s programme and sporting events. Síamsa Sráide is a complete package, where event-goers can cherry-pick from the array of amazing events and activities on offer.
Bonniconlon Agricultural Show
Bonniconlon, 7th August
One of the largest agricultural shows in Ireland, the Bonniconlon Agricultural Show transforms the quaint village of Bonniconlon into one of the biggest showgrounds in the country. The event is not just an exhibition of live-stock, amazing farm produce, traditional trade stands and show jumping, – it is a family orientated agricultural and heritage extravaganza.
Ballina, 25th Oct-31st Oct
The Samhain Abhainn Halloween festival has quickly become one of the hottest festivals in the West of Ireland. The festival pays tribute to Ireland’s connection with the ancient pagan holiday that is now celebrated worldwide. Haunting the streets of Ballina, the festival offers up a cauldron of unique, hair-raising events including pumpkin carving, traditional ghost story readings and the infamous hit event the Scary Wood’s Walk, which leads adventurers through Ballina’s Belleek Forest -a haunted woodland filled with fearsome ghosts and ghouls.
Mayo Stages Rally
Ballina & Killala, 12th March
A fast-paced motor racing experience set against a truly dramatic background along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Mayo Stages Rally is an event not to be missed by those looking for thrills and excitement. The two day rally has a number of other events on throughout the weekend – including a motor show, demonstrations by stunt drives and a Road Safety Authority expo.
Mayo Mud Run
Ballina, 1st April
The Mayo Mud Run is an exhilarating, adrenaline pumping, 8km prize winning run. The fun starts on the road but quickly you will be tossed running/jogging/walking/crawling through fields, forest, water and drains! This thrill-seeking adventure course includes a multitude of natural obstacles and is set in the naturally rugged terrain of Moygownagh with mud being the common denominator! Mayo Mud Run is a challenge for all fitness levels.