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Béal Átha na Sluaighe
Society Street
Society Street
Coat of arms of Ballinasloe
Coat of arms
Ballinasloe is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°19′39″N 8°13′10″W / 53.3275°N 8.2194°W / 53.3275; -8.2194Coordinates: 53°19′39″N 8°13′10″W / 53.3275°N 8.2194°W / 53.3275; -8.2194
CountyCounty Galway
Dáil constituencyRoscommon–Galway
Civil parishKilcloony
 • Total8.6 km2 (3.3 sq mi)
65 m (213 ft)
 • Total6,662
 • Density770/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353 90
Irish Grid ReferenceM854307

Ballinasloe (/ˌbælɪnæˈsl/ bal-en-a-SLOH; Irish: Béal Átha na Sluaighe, meaning 'mouth of the ford of the crowds')[8] is a town in the easternmost part of County Galway in Connacht. It is one of the largest towns in County Galway with a population of 6,662 people as of the 2016 census.[2]


The town developed as a crossing point on the River Suck, a tributary of the Shannon. The Irish placename – meaning the mouth of the ford of the crowds – reflects this purpose. The latter part of the name suggests the town has been a meeting place since ancient times. The patron saint of Ballinasloe is Saint Grellan, whom tradition believes built the first church in the area at Kilcloony. A local housing estate, a GAA club, the branch of Conradh na Gaeilge, and formerly a school are named after him.

Richard Mór de Burgh is credited with founding the town.


Fast-food restaurant Supermac's opened its first restaurant in Ballinasloe in 1978.[9] The restaurant chain is now present in over 116 locations, including three stores in the town.[10]

Ballinasloe was traditionally an agricultural economy, though the 1980s and 1990s saw a number of factories locate in the town.

The 2010s has seen a resurgence in the local economy, this time with skilled labour.[citation needed] Local employers include Aptar, a manufacturing company, and Surmodics, a medical company who committed to creating 100 new jobs in Ballinasloe between 2016 and 2021.[11] Both factories are located in the Business & Technology Park, which is a 32-acre site.[citation needed]

Another contributor to the local economy is the Enterprise Centre,[citation needed] located on the outskirts of Ballinasloe along the Creagh Road. There are currently 22 enterprises based in the Centre, with 9 more regularly using the training, meeting and hot-desk facilities.[citation needed]

Local business in the town centre focuses on stores and restaurants. Gullane's Hotel, a three-star hotel, has served the area since 1943. The Shearwater Hotel, a five-star hotel, is located at Marina Point, just across from Lidl.

Enterprise Town[edit]

Ballinasloe Active Community Development (BACD), a group focused on developing the area to attract investment, have been marketing Ballinasloe as an enterprise town.[citation needed]

In May 2017, a Bank of Ireland "Enterprise Town" weekend was hosted in Ballinasloe, the event being opened by Minister Denis Naughten, and Gavin Duffy of Dragons' Den.[12]

The success of this weekend saw BACD apply to enter the Bank of Ireland Enterprising Town Competition.[citation needed]


Ballinasloe hosts a number of annual events and festivals throughout the year.

October Fair[edit]

Every October, Ballinasloe is host to an ancient annual fair, the Ballinasloe Horse Fair. Chiefly agricultural in the past, it is now focused on the horse. Ballinasloe Horse Fair is the oldest horse fair in Europe and dates back to the 18th century.[13] Today the fair is held alongside a festival that attracts up to 80,000 visitors.[14] A large market takes place, along with a number of events, fireworks, a dog show and a fun fair beside the town theatre in Society Street.

Larry Reynolds' Weekend[edit]

The Larry Reynolds' Weekend is a celebration of traditional Irish music. The event has run annually since 2014, in commemoration of Larry Reynolds, a late Ballinasloe native who emigrated to the United States in 1953 and brought the east Galway style of music to Boston.[15] The festival sees a number of traditional music performances in the different bars around town.

Other events[edit]

The Strings Festival, a music event focusing on stringed instruments, was hosted by Ballinasloe library in July 2017 and 2018.[16] A "Zombie Walk" is held at Halloween on the grounds of the Garbally estate.[17] First held in 2015, the event involves "zombie" tour-guides bringing groups through Garbally woods. In 2019, the Zombie Walk was dubbed "The Trail of Terror". It became the first time in its five year history that it ran for one day only due to the fact that it was cancelled on the second day due to the weather "turning quite nasty".[18]

Places of interest[edit]

Clonmacnoise Monastic Site is a 30-minute drive away from Ballinasloe. An interpretive centre and facilities for visitors have been built around the site, which consists of 12 separate buildings.

Kilconnell Franciscan Friary is approximately 14 km from Ballinasloe. It was founded in 1353 by William Buí O'Kelly. The medieval friary survives in good condition, with the tombs of its many of its patrons surviving inside its ruins.

Clontuskert Abbey is a National Monument, located just 10 minutes from the town. The cloister and church of the medieval priory are open-access to the public.

The Battle of Aughrim Interpretive Centre is located in Aughrim, a village close to Ballinasloe. The centre offers insight on how three rival European Kings – William of Orange, James II, and Louis XIV - took hold of Ireland in their struggle for power, gathering at Aughrim in 1691.

Hymany Way is a hiking trail between Portumna and Aughrim, following the banks of the River Shannon. The trail passes right through Ballinasloe.



Once a notorious traffic jam on the old Galway to Dublin road, Ballinasloe is now by-passed by the M6 motorway. The motorway was opened on 18 December 2009 as the N6 was upgraded.


The town can also be accessed by public bus, with Bus Eireann and CityLink serving the town on their Limerick to Galway and Dublin to Galway routes.


The Ballinasloe railway station opened on 1 August 1851,[19] and is served by the DublinGalway railway line.


From 1828 to the 1960s, Ballinasloe was the terminus of the Grand Canal. Guinness Company used the town's canal stores to store and distribute the Guinness to the midlands. Grand Canal provided a route for Guinness barges to travel from Dublin to Shannon Harbour. A new public marina has been developed on the river in recent years[when?] that allows traffic from the Shannon navigation to access the town.

Local media[edit]

A number of regional newspapers circulate in the Ballinasloe area, such as Ballinasloe Life magazine, the Connacht Tribune, Galway Advertiser, Athlone Topic and the Roscommon Herald. As Ballinasloe sits on the border between two counties it is served by two local radio stations, Galway Bay FM and Shannonside FM. Local radio from other neighbouring counties such as Midlands 103 and Tipp FM are also received in the area.


Ballinasloe has soccer, golf, and rugby clubs, alongside Duggan Park Gaelic Athletic Association grounds. The local GAA clubs are Ballinasloe GAA (incorporating St Grellan's Gaelic football club and the Ballinasloe Hurling Club), Derrymullen Handball Club and Ballinasloe Camogie Club. The soccer club, Ballinasloe Town AFC, plays its games at The Curragh Grounds in the town. Ballinasloe also has two resident boxing clubs. There is also a Tennis Club and Athletics Club.

The facilities in the town include: a golf club, GAA grounds, tennis club, two swimming pools, 40x20 Handball Alley, rugby grounds, soccer grounds, driving range, and a running track.


In Ballinasloe there are four national schools (Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh, Creagh National School, Scoil an Chroí Naofa and St Teresa's Special School) and two secondary schools (St Joseph's College and Ardscoil Mhuire).

Twin towns[edit]

Ballinasloe has been twinned with Chalonnes-sur-Loire, in Maine-et-Loire, France, since 1988.

Notable people[edit]

Annalistic references[edit]

From the Annals of Lough Cé:

  • LC1114.3. A hosting by Domhnall Mac Lachlainn to Rath-Cennaigh, when Eochaidh Ua Mathghamhna, with the Ulidians, came into his house, and Donnchadh Ua Loingsigh, with the Dal-Araidhe, and Aedh Ua Ruairc, with the men of Breifne, and Murchadh Ua Maelsechlainn, with the men of Midhe. They all proceeded across Ath-Luain to 'Dun-Leodha (the original name of Ballinasloe) where Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair, with the Connachtmen, aud Niall, son of Domhnall Mac Lachlainn, with the chieftains of Clann-Conaill, came into his assembly.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Population Density and Area Size 2016". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Ballinasloe". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  3. ^ Census for post 1821 figures. Archived 20 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Archived 7 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  7. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406.[dead link]
  8. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  9. ^ "Pat McDonagh: start-up essentials". JOE. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  10. ^ Hamilton, Peter (6 February 2019). "Supermac's owner plans to add 300 staff in 2019". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  11. ^ "260 new jobs to be created in Galway, Waterford". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Ballinasloe Enterprise Towns". 23 May 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Ballinasloe horse fair expected to draw 80,000 visitors". Irish Times. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Ballinasloe all set for third annual Féile Cheoil Larry Reynolds event". Connacht Tribune. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Diversity and quality reign in Ballinasloe Strings Festival". Connacht Tribune. 13 July 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Ballinasloe Halloween Zombie Walk 2019 - Garbally Woods, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway". Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Ballinasloe station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  20. ^ "Treacy brings experience to his new position". The Irish Times. 9 October 1997. Retrieved 21 February 2019.

External links[edit]

  • - Ballinasloe Town website with events guide, directory and local information
  • - Independent site with articles on Ballinasloe's history and genealogical research
  • Ballinasloe Tourism - Includes information on Ballinasloe's attractions and businesses.