Ballina is the terminus of a railway route from Dublin. Historically the railway line continued to Killala. The modern line to Ballina is a branch off the main Dublin-Westport line; passengers have to change at Manulla Junction, though some direct Ballina-Dublin services do run. Currently a ex-Dublin 'Commuter' train services the Manulla Junction to Ballina line, in 2006 it replaced Mk.1 Carriages and a 071 class locomotive. On a Friday there is a mid-afternoon down train from Dublin which does not stop at Manulla Junction, it is served with Mk.2 Carriages.
Scene: Knox St
Date: circa 1940
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Read about Ballina below
Ballina (Irish: Béal an Átha) is the largest town in County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland. It lies at the mouth of the River Moy near Killala Bay, in the Moy valley, with the Ox Mountain range to the east and the Nephin Beg Mountains to the west. Ballina is in north Mayo, in the province of Connacht. The name is derived from Béal an Átha (mouth of the ford) or Béal Átha an Fheadha in Irish.
According to the 2002 census, Ballina is the largest town at 1,451 hectares, compared to Castlebar at 1,099 hectares. The recorded population of Ballina's urban area is 9,478.
While Ballina was first officially established in 1729 by O'Hara, Lord Tyrawley, Belleek, now part of the town, pre-dates the town’s formation, and can be dated back to the late 15th, or early 16th century. Although, what is now known as Belleek Castle was built in 1831. Beside the town's modern Roman Catholic cathedral is the 'remains of an Augustinian friary founded about 1375', according to Encyclopædia Britannica.
The Belleek estate once occupied lands from the Moy River to the modern-day Killala Road. This included part of the ‘Old French Road’ which General Humbert marched on from Killala, and beside part of which in the Killala Road-Belleek area was Belleek’s reservoir – presumably destroyed in the construction Coca-Cola’s ‘Ballina Beverages’ factory; the ‘Old French Road’ is now closed off at that point, with what amount to diversion road signs claiming Humber marched where he did not.
Old borders Ballina is on the Mayo side of the Mayo-Sligo county border, part of what is now the town was once was part of County Sligo, with the border for the most part once being the River Moy, south of which was in Sligo, including Ardnaree, and Crockets Town (the Quay).
The 1798 Centenary memorial (the Humbert Monument) was dedicated on May 11, 1898, it was late due to the money also being used to fund revolutionary organisations. The monument was originally sculptured by a Dublin Craftsman but in recent years it has been restored locally by G J Ginty & Sons. The figure on the monument is not Humbert but Mother Ireland. Maud Gonne, a famous Irish woman unveiled the monument. At the event Maud Gonne famously poured water over another speaker's (an IRB member) head.
The Dolmen of the Four Maols is located at the back of Ballina's Railway Station. The Dolmen dates from c2,000 B.C.E and is sometimes called locally the 'Table of the Giants'. The Dolmen is said to be the burial place of the four Maols. The four Maols murdered Ceallach, a 7th century Bishop of Connacht and were hung at Ardnaree - the Hill of Executions. Tradition says that their bodies were buried under the Dolmen.
Architecture, planning, and housing
The town has some notable architecture, including the 15th-century Moyne Abbey, and St Muredach's Cathedral, which is the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Killala. Work on the Cathedral began in 1827. The stone was quarried locally and the roof and ceiling to Ireland.com, the website of the national newspaper the Irish Times, “many of the shops and pubs have retained their Victorian and Edwardian style”. In recent years, in an attempt maintain these styles, the town council introduced design guidelines for shop fronts.
The town centre has somewhat retained its historic appearance, avoiding the degree of modernisation seen in many Irish towns - according to Ireland.com, the website of the national newspaper the Irish Times, “many of the shops and pubs have retained their Victorian and Edwardian style”. In recent years, in an attempt maintain these styles, the town council introduced design guidelines for shop fronts.
The majority of housing in the town is provided by housing estates that are privately built; once in a fit condition, the green areas, roads, and footpaths are handed over to the local authorities. In the main, these housing estates are made up of semi-detached houses. In recent years, the estates have rapidly expanded the size of the town, even outgrowing newly drawn town boundaries, with estates built on nearly every main road from the town.
Besides this, there has been some development in apartment building, most notably the Ridgepool Apartments, located in the same building as the Ridge Pool Hotel on the bank of the River Moy. Apartments have and are been built in old and new laneways of the town centre. New laneways are being opened to link shopping streets to the old Diamond’s Yard car park, the laneways and the car park also accommodates new shops and improved access to old stores.
Culture & recreation
Ballina Stephenites, is one of the local Gaelic Athletic Association club teams. The name also refers to the town’s Gaelic Athletic Association grounds. In 2005, the team won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship for the first time. The other GAA football club in Ballina is Ardnaree Sarsfields.
Ballina Town FC, Ballina Rovers and Ballina United are the town's three soccer clubs.
In basketball, Merry Monk Ballina represents the town in Ireland’s Men's ‘Superleague’. The town used to have two teams, in 2002, the Ballina Colts, and the Ballina Hawks under aged teams joined to form Ballina Braves Basketball Club. The former senior teams were named Longnecks Ballina, and Lundy Foods Ballina.
Ballina's location favours salmon fishing, and one of the best spots, the Ridge Pool, is situated in the heart of the town, and boasts a fine harem established in the late 1940s. Ballina is widely regarded as the foremost salmon angling resort in Europe. The highlight of the tourist season occurs in early July when the Ballina Street and Arts Festival takes place.
The primary schools that serve the town include Scoil Croí íosa of the Convent of Mercy (all-girls), Scoil Padraig (all-boys), the Quay NS (mixed), Culleens NS on the Killala Road (mixed), and Scoil na gCeithre Maol (mixed), a gaelscoil situated by the Ridgepool. There is also a Montessori school and many pre-schools.
There are also three secondary schools - St. Murdeachs College (all-male), Moyne College (mixed), and St Marys of the Convent of Mercy (all-female). Other local mixed secondary school options include schools in Crossmolina, Foxford and Lacken Cross (past Killala).
Communications & media
Broadband over telephone lines is currently provided by Eircom, and BT Ireland.
Ballina is one of the towns due to have a MAN (Metropolitan Area Network), the ductings and fiber optic cables are in place, but with no ISP Connections. The MANs are being built for the Department of Communications, they will be run by a private operator, but will remain the property of the government.
The Western People is a local newspaper based in Ballina and until recently was also printed at its premises in the town, it is owned by the Cork-based Thomas Crosbie Holdings. Two freesheets, the Mayo Advertiser and the Mayo Echo are distributed throughout Ballina. The Connaught Telegraph, published in Castlebar and, to a lesser extent, the Mayo News published in Westport, also carry local news related to Ballina. Mid West Radio is the regional station with an office in the town.
Historically there has been a number of newspapers directly linked with the town, these include:
Ballina Advertiser, Mayo And Sligo Commercial Gazette (Jan 10, 1840 - Nov 10, 1843)
Ballina Chronicle (May 2, 1849 - Aug 14, 1851; M/W Connaught Watchman)
Ballina Herald (1844 – Oct, 1961; C/A 'Ballina Herald and Mayo and Sligo Advertiser')
Ballina Herald and Mayo and Sligo Advertiser (Oct, 1891 - Apr 28, 1962; M/W 'Western People')
Ballina Impartial, or Tyrawly Advertiser (Jan 13, 1823 - Nov 16, 1835)
Ballina Journal and Connaught Advertiser (C/A 1880 - Mar 11, 1895)
Connaught Watchman (Aug 2, 1851 - Oct 3, 1863)
Tyrawly Herald; or Mayo and Sligo Intelligencer (1844 – 1870)
Western Gem (1843)
Western Journal (1977 - Feb 15, 1980; C/A Sligo Journal Feb 22, 1980 - Mar 11, 1983)
Western People (1883 - Present)
Western Star (1835 - 1837)
Public transport within the town is mostly limited to taxis.
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, goes through the town to Sligo to the northeast. The R314 makes up the road to Killala, and then Ballycastle. The R294 goes to south County Sligo via 'the Windy Gap' in the Ox Mountains, this is used by some to get to Dublin, vie Tubbercurry and Boyle (most notably when Mayo is playing in the GAA All Ireland Final, after which the main roads are clogged by traffic travelling to other parts of the county).
There is currently a plan to build a ring road around the town, but this has been in place for a number of years. A small stretch of the N26 leaving the town to Foxford was recently modernised. An inner-relief road was completed just before Christmas 2005, it links the Killala Road (R314) and Crossmolina Road (N59) - it goes through ‘Rockville’ housing estate on the Killala Road and joins up to other roads at St Patrick's Church, near the Crossmolina Road. A section of the N59 from the town to the Sligo boarder is currently been upgraded.
The 'Ballina & Environs Development Plan, 2003-2009' plans for cycle lanes 'on all major traffic routes leading into town”, and for the building of stage one of the 'outer ring road linking the N26 (Foxford Road) with the N59 – West (Crossmolina Road), and the R314 (Killala Road)”.
Ballina Bus Station is host to a major Bus Éireann bus depot.
Ballina is the terminus of a railway route from Dublin. Historically the railway line continued to Killala. The modern line to Ballina is a branch off the main Dublin-Westport line; passengers have to change at Manulla Junction, though some direct Ballina-Dublin services do run.
Currently a ex-Dublin 'Commuter' train services the Manulla Junction to Ballina line, in 2006 it replaced Mk.1 Carriages and a 071 class locomotive. On a Friday there is a mid-afternoon down train from Dublin which does not stop at Manulla Junction, it is served with Mk.2 Carriages.
The only other stop on the Manulla-Ballina line is Foxford. Foxford station opened 1 May 1868, in 1963 despite local opposition it was closed - it reopened in 1988 and is now served by the Ballina-Manulla Junction train. The line is owned by the state company CIE, and previously by the Midland Great Western Railway.
Since January 14, 2007, the newly assigned ‘Commuter’ railcars run a new Ballina-Foxford-Castlebar-Westport service, vie Manulla Junction, three times daily each way.
Ireland West Airport Knock (Knock Airport, NOC) is about 40 minutes, 31.5 miles, or 50.7 km from Ballina. Bus Éireann now runs a shuttle service about five times a day from Charlestown to the Airport. There are nine or more services a day from the airport to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin and Durham Tees Valley. Sligo Airport is about 45 minutes from Ballina and has two flights a day to Dublin, usually operated by Aer Arann ATR42's but occasionally ATR72's.
Multinational companies Coca Cola, under the name Ballina Beverages, has a processing plant in the Killala Road area of the town. In 2005, the company expanded their large sky-like blue boxed building which can be seen from across the town, it remains the same height and length but on the road access side of the site it has noticeable increased in width. The extension seamlessly merges with the original. In January 2000, the plant produced its first commercial batch of Coke Cola. They operate a team named ‘the Ballina Beverages Sponsorship Team’, according to the Western People the company donates to around 100 ‘local events’ annually, besides this, in December 2005 the Sponsorship Team split 25,000 euro between five local charities.
Charles River Laboratories, Inc. run pre-clinical animal testing labs (locally nicknamed ‘the rat labs’ or the 'rat factory') under the Irish registered company 'River Laboratories Biolabs Europe Limited' - in the area of Carrentrila on the old Foxford Road. They also operate out of a location in North West Mayo. Formerly, the now dissolved company Biological Laboratories (Ballina) Limited operated from the same premises.