The 300th anniversary of the founding of Ballina

Plans for a year-long celebration

Sligo News File

An enterprising Ballina group has set themselves the weighty task of laying the groundwork for a year-long festival focused on celebrating the 300th anniversary of the formal establishment of the town. By any reckoning, a surely huge undertaking.

As chronicled in the excellently researched work published by noted historian Terry Reilly under the title Dear Old Ballina, the town, originally known as Belleek, dates from around 1375 when an Augustinian friary was established. However, the plans rolled out by the recently formed Ballina group are centred on its believed formal foundation in 1723 which, Reilly relates, was when Lord Tyrawley “brought a large number of skilled flax and linen workers to the town. To accommodate the influx small cottages were erected at Bunree, extending up the incline towards Ardnaree, and adjacent to the mill which had been built on Bunree River.”

The nearly 450-page historical record includes a foreword by Ballina-born President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson.

Chairman of the anniversary steering group Jarlath Munnelly said the upcoming event, scheduled for 2023, “is an exciting opportunity for a year-long celebration – a chance for our community to come together and create an ambitious, diverse and inclusive calendar of events that includes everyone.”

The group has on board members representing Mayo County Council, Moy Valley Resources IRD, Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Mayo North Tourism, and Ballina Lions Club and will aim to facilitate and empower citizens of the town to take an active role in planning events.

All groups/organisations in the town are being urged to consider staging an event of their own that can be included in the programme of events.

As well, anyone interested in helping with event planning, community engagement, marketing and PR, fundraising, governance and the creation of a town vision is invited to register their interest through the email address ballina2023@gmail.com