Open Meeting, Tuesday 10th April

Ballina Salmon Festival is first and foremost a community festival – without our local community and businesses, our festival simply wouldn’t be possible.

We’re holding our first open meeting of the year on Tuesday, April 10 at 8.30pm on the third floor of the Ballina Salmon Festival offices on 44 Pearse Street, Ballina (right next door to the Tourist Office).

This is an opportunity to come along, meet some of the people behind the festival, hear an update on our 2018 plans and get involved, if you wish (but no obligation)!

Anyone with an interest in Ballina Salmon Festival is most welcome to attend and our Ballina business owners are especially welcome.

We’ll keep it short and sweet, and look forward to seeing you there.

The Easter Bunny Train – 1st and 2nd April 2018

If you go down to the woods on Easter Sunday, you’re in for a big surprise! The Easter Bunny Train takes off once again in beautiful Belleek Woods on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Come along to Belleek Woods from 2-5pm on Easter Sunday 1st April and Easter Monday 2nd April and take a trip through Ballina’s magical forest park on the festival train. There’ll be lots of fun and surprises on the day, and you might even spot the Easter Bunny!

A trip on the train costs €2 per person, and all proceeds go towards this year’s Ballina Salmon Festival.

A fun day is guaranteed in our lovely woods and we hope to see you there!

Embark on a historical walking tour of Ballina during the festival

Ballina is a town with a colourful, fascinating history dating back for thousands of years. And what better way to learn about that history than to embark on a walking tour of Ballina with one of our very own local historians?

Carmel Hughes, a renowned local historian and member of the North Mayo/West Sligo Heritage Group will be bringing groups on a tour of the town on four days during festival week from 11am – 1pm as follows:

  • Monday 10th July
  • Tuesday 11th July
  • Thursday 13th July
  • Friday 14th July

During her tour, Carmel will take you on a journey through Ballina’s history, from the ‘Dolmen of the Four Maols‘, dating from 2000 BC, to our famine burial site, to the General Humbert Monument, which commemorates Humbert’s march through Mayo from his landing in Kilcummin, to the house in which the first female President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, was born. Along the way Carmel will point out things of interest such as examples of our beautiful Georgian architecture, our Military Quarter, and our stunning ecclesiastical ruins. Hear also about Ardnaree (Árd na Riagh) and how Ballina wasn’t always all in County Mayo!

More info

  • Tours begin at 11am, meeting at Ballina Tourist Office, Pearse Street
  • Tours are FREE. No booking necessary – just show up
  • Participants are advised to wear comfortable shoes and bring rain gear

About the North Mayo – West Sligo Heritage Group

The main objective of this group is to acquire and share knowledge of the natural and built heritage of North Mayo and West Sligo and to work in partnership with like-minded bodies and individuals to promote awareness and appreciation of our heritage. The group hosts regular lectures of historical interest in Ballina – follow their Facebook page for more information.

Guest blog: ‘Mammy Red Head’ on Children’s events at Ballina Salmon Festival


We’re delighted to welcome Gemma McLoughlin to the guest blogger’s slot at Ballina Salmon Festival. Gemma blogs over at Mammy Red Head, and here is her account of last year’s Children’s Events at Ballina Salmon Festival. You can also follow Gemma’s writing by liking Mammy Red Head on Facebook! Thanks to Gemma for taking the time to share her experience of 2017. This year, we’re working on an even bigger and better children’s programme and booking details will be online shortly. 

With the weather heating up a little and the snowdrops popping up the plans for the upcoming summer are beginning to start.  With two busy children who are always asking “What are we doing today, Mammy?” I’m always on the lookout for fun events taking place and keeping in mind things we did last year.  One set of dates I’ll definitely have in the diary is the Children’s events at Ballina Salmon Festival.  My two kids had a ball last year, every day there was different fun, engaging and activity packed events.  From paid workshops to many many free events, the choice was endless.  All the events were well run, professional and I knew and felt my children were safe.  Children are to the forefront of what the events were about,  all involved were happy to help and encourage the children to get the most out of the events.

Each event we attended had its unique theme from learning Martial Arts, Fun & Splash, Dance Workshop to Music Workshops the possibilities were endless.  My son’s favourite activity  was the Reeling in the Years Workshop, with The Jackie Clarke Collection.  Little Red Head got to immerse himself in the excitement of a newsroom setting where he created a newspaper, cutting pasting and writing.  He came out buzzing with all that was from years gone by, and he continued his newspaper at home making sure it was accurate.   Mini Miss enjoyed the fabulous Birds of Prey on the infamous Heritage Day, but her favourite event was the Disco in the Stephenites sports ground, where she boogied for hours meet up with her friends, made new friends and her favourite part, came home with a massive goody bag filled with treats and gifts.

Children's Events at Ballina Salmon Festival 6

Little Red Head, Mini Miss and Mammy Red Head enjoying Ballina Salmon Festival 2017!

For me while I did enjoy my children’s favourite events, I’ve got to say my favourite was running around the picturesque Belleek Woods, at the Pirate Treasure Hunt. We looked for clues and made sure there were no pirates lurking around.  Little Red Head and Mini Miss got so involved and ran the length of the woods without even realising – always a plus for Mammy; tired happy children equals a happy Mammy! Like many of the children’s events there were drinks and treats at the end of the event.  I feel I need to say here that many of these events were free, but always came with goodies.

While the Mardi Gras and Fireworks on Saturday night isn’t on the Children’s events at Ballina Salmon Festival calendar it is well worth keeping the children awake for, what’s one late night ..!  For the past two years my then three and five year olds loved the parade and last year they loved it even more.  As the anticipation built –  “Mammy will it be as good as last year?” –  it didn’t disappoint. I love seeing the look of wonder and pure happiness on my children’s faces.

We all know that once the children finish up school towards the end of June we will be scurrying to find things to keep our kids busy.  The Ballina Salmon Festival is a must, and for the Children’s Events, I would advise on popping into the tourist office to book the workshops as they do fill up fast, but as mentioned there are many free events and this year I don’t doubt that the Children’s Events calendar is going to be fun-filled and exciting.

Ballina Salmon Festival this year takes place from 8th – 15th July and as ever, will include a full programme of children’s events. Online booking will be available for most children’s events at Ballina Salmon Festival so keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for details. 

Festive Table Quiz Thursday 7th December in The Loft

Ballina Salmon Festival is holding a festive table quiz this Thursday night December 7th at 9pm in the warm and cosy surroundings of The Loft Bar.

Quizmaster Terry McCole has put together a great array of fun questions including some festival-themed trivia and there will be a raffle on the night with some great prizes.

A big thank you to our local businesses and organisations for their support and generosity including the Ice House Hotel, Mark Forbes and Sons Butchers, Mark Forbes Jnr, Rory Quinn’s Jewellers, Corinne Beattie Photography, Flaunt Boutique, Ballina Chamber, Christy McLoughlin Pharmacy, Casey’s Londis, the Jackie Clarke Collection, Toymaster Ballina, Murphy’s Gala and the Irish Girl Guides.

Admission is €10 per person. We hope to see you and your team there for what should be a great evening of Ballina fun. q

Ballina Salmon Festival Annual Flag Day – 1 December 2017

The Ballina Salmon Festival annual flag day takes place in Ballina on Friday 1st December 2017.

Our festival relies heavily on local support to deliver a top quality and fun festival week for visitors and locals alike, and the Ballina community is never found wanting when it comes to supporting the festival.

This Friday as we don the thermals and take to the streets we hope you’ll be as generous as ever, and we’ll do our best to deliver another great festival in 2018 in return. Looking forward to seeing you around the town!

Happy Birthday to the Core Mayo Open Mic!

Since 2016, the increasingly popular Music Generation Mayo programme The Core Mayo has been giving young musicians and learners in the Mayo community a multitude of performance opportunities at their showcases, festival stages, pop up events and open mic evenings. As you’ll no doubt be aware, we at Ballina Salmon Festival were lucky enough this year to have The Core Stage, which featured a full lunchtime concert schedule of young performances from the The Core Mayo.
The Core Mayo Open Mic turns one this week – congrats to all involved!

The Core Open Mic is a monthly event where the mezzanine area of the Ballina Arts Centre is transformed into a vibrant and intimate performance space. The stage is open to young musicians and performers aged 12 to 18 and can accommodate full bands!

It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet like minded musical people from across the county and get experience performing in front of an attentive and appreciative audience. It’s also an opportunity to meet members of The Core, get a tour of the rehearsal/recording space, learn about instrumental tuition, workshops and camps at The Core or even become a member yourself! As always, friends and family are more than welcome to come along and our performers always appreciate the support!
Young people interested in performing on Tuesday November 28th are encouraged to contact or call 087-7485954. For more info about The Core please visit

Winners of the Ballina Salmon Festival Junior Literary Awards 2017

The Ballina Salmon Festival Junior Literary Awards returned this year under the stewardship of local author Faith Hogan and creative writer Lizann Gorman.

The Awards, a feature of the festival in the past were revived in 2017, focusing initially on primary school writers. Inspired by the success of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the awards are inspired by the HaHoLit (Half Hour Literary) Award, where children are challenged to set aside just half an hour to create a short story or poem in English or Irish.

Ballina Salmon Festival Junior Literary Awards Winners 2017
Winners of the 2017 Ballina Salmon Festival Junior Literary Awards pictured with (back row, L-R) Jennifer Gorman, BSF Office; Billy Lewis, BSF Chairman; Paul Brennan, sponsor; Orla Slack, An Teanga Bheo; Faith Hogan, Author; Terry McDonagh, Judge; Lizann Gorman, Author and Cathy Ennis, BSF Office.
















Prizewinners were presented with their prizes in Ballina Arts Centre by poet Terry McDonagh and the winners are as follows:

Ballina Salmon Festival Junior Literary Awards – Overall Winners

Abigail McNulty Age 12 Finnegan’s Story
Laura Jackson Age 8 The Salmon Snatcher
Danny McDonald Age 11 No Title

Each of the overall winners won a set of books for themselves and book vouchers for their schools.

Others to receive awards were: 
Caitlin Thompson Age 12 Priorities
Ann Kate Haugh Age 12 The knowledge of the Land
Lauren Comer Age 8 Beavis Learns a Lesson
Anna Maughan Age 12 Fledging
Ciara Finnerty Age 12 Stopping in Time
Aoibhe Donnelly Age 9 Friends
Liam Maughan Sports
Caoimhe Barrett Age 12 Leaves
Ultan Tuffy Age 12 The Spirit of Eaon
Kim Stadler Age 11 The Summer Holiday
Emma Pritchett Age 12 (Poem) No Title
Conor Murphy Age 8 Salmon
Laura Gallagher Age 11 The Salmon of Life Everlasting
Oliver Jackson The Salmon of Knowledge
Darragh Moore The Salmon of Knowledge
Emily McDonnell Age 10 The Salmon Festival
Liam O’Boyle Salmon of Knowledge RAP
Adam Foody Age 9 The Salmon of Knowledge
Niall Barrett The Salmon of Knowledge
Niamh Cassidy Age 7 My Class
Micheal O’Boyle (Poem) No Title


Other winners received book vouchers courtesy of Easons Ballina.

Congratulations to all the winners!  The 2017 awards were very  kindly sponsored by Paul Brennan, Solicitor (main sponsor), Eason Ballina, Creative Writing Mayo and An Teanga Bheo Irish Language School, Ballina.


Read more about the Ballina Salmon Festival Junior Literary Awards:

The Junior Literary Awards return to Ballina Salmon Festival!

Ballina Salmon Festival 2017 triumphs in its 53rd year

Setting out on its 53rd voyage, the Ballina Salmon Festival ship looked a little leaky. Like many other community-run events, it was struggling to attract volunteers and committee members willing to take on the significant commitment involved in delivering what is now one of the West of Ireland’s largest community-led events. However, the prospect of losing the festival rallied the Ballina community, and early in the year, offers of help began to roll in. A new committee was elected and what was essentially a the race against time began, to ensure that Ballina Salmon Festival 2017 not only went ahead, but laid the foundations for a brighter future ahead.


Winners at the newly revived Ballina Salmon Festival 2017 Junior Literary Awards

Laying out its 2017 programme, the festival committee set a number of objectives. They identified the need to re-engage with the community, and attract increased volunteer input and business support, and to re-invigorate the festival and re-position it as a fun and enjoyable event in which to become involved. Given the huge amount of musical and artistic talent available in the North Mayo region, the committee also made a conscious decision to give this talent a platform, confident that given the opportunity, local groups would create events within the festival programme of a quality high enough to delight and excite our locals and visitors alike and generate publicity for the region as a tourism destination.

Winner of the Lady of the Moy 2017, Therese Ní Láimhín pictured with her parents and Pat Boyle of Pat’s Country Roadshow at the Country and Western Night

This proved to be the case, and the 2017 programme of events delivered a mix of exciting new events and old favourites that proved to the world that Ballina Salmon Festival was back and better than ever. ‘A Night at the Proms’, a stunning musical collaboration between the town’s many choral groups MC’d by RTE’s George Lee, with a surprise appearance by Tommy Fleming proved a huge success and sell-out, while ‘A Celebration of Life through Traditional Irish Music, Song and Dance’ showcased the very best of North Mayo’s traditional music and dance heritage.

Ballina Salmon Festival Heritage Day 2017
Three lovely ladies pictured on National Heritage Day

Events like Ballina Arts Centre’s “Perspectives 11” Exhibition, ‘The Core Music Stage’ lunchtime street concerts, and the revived Junior Literary Awards enhanced the festival’s arts content significantly, while live music in the Old Military Quarter each night brought the party back to the heart of town. Old favourites like the Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Heritage Day attracted record crowds, with the impromptu appearance of local tenor, Garda Alan McGinty on stage with the prestigious Garda Band proving a memorable and emotional moment for Ballina resulting in national headlines.

Ballina Salmon Festival Heritage Day 2017 Photo David Beattie
Ballina as seen from the air early on the morning of National Heritage Day. Photo: David Beattie

Community came to the fore as numerous community and voluntary groups and businesses helped to man the crew and steward during events. Over the course of the week An Garda Siochána and the Order of Malta became part of the festival crew, and a team of transition years acted as festival ambassadors, distributing flyers and sharing the week’s events on social media. Overall, it is estimated that over 250,000 passed through the town during festival week; a significant boost to the local economy that will benefit businesses both directly and indirectly.

Ballina Salmon Festival Heritage Day 2017
The famous Ballina Salmon Fireworks Display followed the Festival Mardi Gras – both went down a storm

Festival Chairman Billy Lewis said: “Ballina Salmon Festival 2017  was an outstanding success and this is due to the effort of the whole community and how the whole town got behind it. I cannot thank enough Mayo County Council, the Gardai, the Department of Social Protection, the voluntary groups, all the sports clubs and the Order of Malta for their commitment and support. The directors, event coordinators and all the committees, I am so honoured to work with you and so humbled by your efforts and commitment. To all the volunteers who played a part no matter how small or big my thanks. I have no doubt the Festival will go on brighter and bigger and as it is our window to the world, the light in our hearts is brighter than ever for all to see.”

A small group of Ballina Salmon Festival volunteers pictured at the Teddy Bear's Picnic 2017_opt
A small group of the 300+ Ballina Salmon Festival volunteers pictured at the Teddy Bear’s Picnic 2017

Festival PRO Anne-Marie Flynn said: “It’s a testament to the business, voluntary groups and individuals of Ballina that in spite of our challenges, we were able to deliver a fantastic week of entertainment catering to all ages and tastes. We’re especially grateful to the businesses that backed the festival and the hundreds of people who volunteered throughout the week. The positive feedback received via our social media channels, where people followed the action from as far away as the UK, Chicago, New York, Perth, the Middle East, even Russia is already inspiring us to create an even bigger and better festival week next year.”

As it seeks to progress in 2018, it is never too early to get started. Ballina Salmon Festival is already looking to the future, and is hoping to attract involvement from more new groups, particularly those working with young, disadvantaged and older people.

Thérese Ní Láimhín crowned Ballina Salmon Festival Lady of the Moy 2017

The traditional pre-festival warm-up, the Lady of the Moy 2017 competition took place in The Great National Hotel, Ballina on Friday 30th June.

Traditionally the first event in the festival calendar, the large crowd in attendance was treated to a night of glitz, glamour and entertainment as local lady Thérese Ní Láimhín, representing The Station House Hotel claimed the crown on the night.

The Lady of the Moy will represent Ballina Salmon Festival during festival week as well as acting as an ambassador for the town throughout the year. Holding the title of Lady of the Moy is regarded as an honour for the winning lady that offers great opportunities for networking, development as well as many fun, memorable occasions throughout the year.

Proudly sponsored by Allure Hair and Beauty, this year the competition boasted 14 contestants in total, each representing a local business or group. The contest was judged by Allure owner Martha Galvin, high-profile blogger and influencer Kieran O’Malley (aka ‘The Galway Player’) and acclaimed TV make-up artist Hayley Coleman.  The wit of MC Ollie Turner of Galway Bay FM was a delight on the night as he guided them through their stint on stage. Most sang, danced or recited poetry for the crowd, showing once again the level of talent that exists in Ballina. Each girl also completed an individual interview with the judges.


Ballina Salmon Festival Lady of the Moy 2017 Judges and main event co=ordinators _opt
Ballina’s Salmon Festival’s Lady of the Moy 2017 co-ordinator Mary Moyles pictured with her team organisers Sinead McGowan and Jennifer Gorman with competion judges Martha Galvin and Kieran O’Malley. Absent from pic was fellow judge Hayley Coleman. (Picture: Henry Wills.)


Winner Thérese Ní Láimhín hails from Foxford, is a student in DCU, and has just finished her first year of studying primary school teaching. She is an accomplished musician, playing no fewer than four instruments, the piano, concertina, guitar and tin whistle. Indeed her performance at the Lady of the Moy  2017 contest consisted of Therese playing guitar a beautiful medley of songs in English and Irish. Therese is a pioneer and a proud Gaeilgóir, having grown up with the language at home.

 Thérese said: “I’m very excited about the week and year ahead, and can’t wait to meet everyone, and see how it all works! It’s an honour and a privilege to represent my town, and I feel it’s so important to be able to speak about your own home town and be involved in things that are going on, particularly from a tourism point of view. It’ll be lovely to look back on this in years to come and to be able to say I was a part of it, and I can’t wait.”


Ballina’s Bevy of Beauties”. Majestically representing Ballina at it’s Salmon Festival’s Lady of the Moy competition in the Great National Hotel were contestants standing from left, Isla Wall (The Ice House Hotel), Leah Walsh (Shaws), Amy Traynor (Nephin Rose), Catherine O’Boyle (The Merry Monk), Karen Hegarty (The Broken Jug), Mairead Hopkins (Empire Rooms), Tyra Marsh (Ruby Brown’s), Rebecca Mulhaire (Gúna Nua), and Katie O’Malley (Bella Beauty). Seated from left, Amy Moore (Bar Square), Overall winner Therese Ní’ Laimhin (The Station House Hotel), Gemma Ryan (Ballina Manor Hotel), Rebecca Langan (The Great National Hotel), and Michelle Kearns (Involve). (Picture Henry Wills.)



Event organiser Mary Moyles, manager of The Broken Jug said: “The Lady of the Moy gives these young women a fantastic opportunity and the confidence they gain from standing up in front of their town is wonderful. They are all so proud to represent their towns and their businesses. In our eyes they are all winners and young women our town can be proud of.”

The Lady of the Moy 2017 competition was proudly supported by a number of local businesses. Allure Hair and Beauty were the main sponsors, providing the main prize and hair and make-up services for the event. The event was also supported by hosts, The Great National Hotel Ballina, as well as Gúna Nua Boutique, Winter’s Jewellers, Mayo Crystal, John Rocha, Moy Chocolates and Blooms ‘n’ Things. Local hairdressers and beauticians also sponsored hairstyling and makeup for the night, once again demonstrating the sense of community for which Ballina Salmon Festival is so renowned.

Winner of third prize on the night was Karen Hegarty representing the Broken Jug and runner-up was Mairead Hopkins representing The Empire Rooms. Catherine O’Boyle of the Merry Monk was winner of the audience vote.  Guests were treated to a spectacular interval show by award-winning Sylvan Kelly School of Dance, who will also feature during the festival as part of the Celebration of Irish Music event taking place on Friday 14th July in the Military Quarter.

Go on Festival Photo Safari on Sun 9th July!

If you’re visiting the area for Festival week, or even if you’re a local with a camera who’d like some tips on how to use it, you’re in the right place!

Mayo is an haven for photographers of all levels and interests, with its abundance landscapes, textures, and gorgeous light that enchants camera-carriers. Local photographer David Browne organises regular “Photo Safaris” to scenic locations in Mayo and beyond throughout the summer months, with the objective of bringing visitors to the most scenic spots and while doing so, helping them to develop their digital photography skills.

On Sunday 9th July, to coincide with the start of Ballina Salmon Festival, David’s Photo Safari will take place in Ballina from 2-5pm. 

The Photo Safari is tailor-made with hotographers of all levels in mind. David has an intimate knowledge of the local area, and supplies notes/instruction on camera settings as well as some local history and folklore. He holds a Distinction from the Irish Photographic Federation, and is the retired Chair of Mayo Photographic Club.

Regardless of the type of camera you own, be it a point and shoot, a full frame DSLR or even just your phone camera, David will provide an exciting, hands-on tutorial tackling composition, framing, lighting and much more. Don’t miss this special chance to sharpen your photo taking skills, capture some fantastic local scenes and meet other like-minded photographers.

And best of all, you’ll be back in Ballina by 5pm, in lots of time for International Evening!

Photo: Cartwheel Maker at Ballina Salmon Festival Heritage Day 2016 by David Browne


More information on David’s Festival Photo Safari

Meeting Point: The Ridge Pool (opposite the Ballina Manor Hotel) at 2pm.
Weather permitting, the group will photograph the famous Ridge Pool, St. Muredach’s Cathedral, the Quay and Belleek Woods.
Suitable footwear is recommended as are waterproofs just in case!

Call David on +353 (0) 87 211 to book in.
Or email
Like David Browne Photography on Facebook


Photo Safari Summer Programme 2017

Photo Safari Poster Summer 2017_opt

Moy Fishery Exhibition at the Jackie Clarke Collection

As part of Jackie Clarke’s incredible collection of over 100,000 items of Irish history, he had a great interest in the local fishing industry and over the course of his lifetime, amassed documents, books and many other items relating to The Moy Fishery.

To celebrate the Ballina Salmon Festival, the Jackie Clarke Collection is pleased to announce the return of its Moy Fishery Exhibition.
In addition to Jackie’s own materials, we are delighted that The Moy Fishery will also be providing tangible items from their own archives to be displayed. This exhibition will be on display from the 11th to the 15th of July 2017.

The Collection is open fom  10am-5pm – Tuesday – Saturday. For more information call +353 (0)96 73508.

Garda Band a highlight of 2017 National Heritage Day festivities


National Heritage Day at Ballina Salmon Festival is of the cornerstones of the event, developed by the festival committee over 25 years ago and attracts up to 40,000 people to the town every year. Wednesday 12th July 2017 is a day to dress up in costume, immerse yourself in the experience and feast your senses on the sights, sounds and smells of a market day 100 years ago, as the past comes to life and the streets are transformed.

There’s a great programme of musical entertainment included in the Heritage Day festivities, and this year the festival will come alive with the sounds of  the renowned Bofield Ceilí Band, the Clew Bay Critters, the  Moffatt School of Irish Dance and Music and  Scoil Rince Uí Chinnéide  School of Irish Dance.

One of the highlights however of the day is set to be the return of the Garda Band.

Back by popular demand, the committee is so thrilled to be able to welcome An Garda Síochana Band back to the streets for another performance. They are a huge festival favourite, always drawing a massive crowd to their base at the Main Stage at the Post Office, and also serve to attract significant numbers of visitors into the town to watch them perform. It is an honour and a delight to have such a prestigious musical unit perform in our town and we cannot wait to see them live once again.

You can see the Garda Band perform at Ballina Post Office on O’Rahilly Street from 2-4pm on National Heritage Day, Wednesday 12th July 2017.


About the Garda Band

The Garda Band was established shortly after the establishment of An Garda Síochána and gave its very first public performance on Dun Laoghaire Pier on Easter Monday, 1923.

Over the years, a a céilí band, pipe band and dance orchestra were formed from within the ranks. After being disbanded in 1965, it was re-established in 1972 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of An Garda Síochána.

Besides providing music for official Garda functions (such as Graduation Ceremonies at the Garda College), the Garda Band undertakes a heavy community-orientated programme each year performing at schools, festivals and sporting events.

The Garda Band has travelled to many international events, representing Ireland on a number of occasions at police festivals and concerts in Switzerland, Germany and Northern Ireland. We are delighted to be welcoming them back to Ballina Salmon Festiva’s National Heritage Day this year.


Watch some past performances from the Garda Band at Ballina Salmon Festival


Garda Band performing at Ballina Salmon Festival in 2009 


 And in 2007!

Irish Defence Forces return to the Jackie Clarke Collection on Heritage Day

For the fourth year in a row, the Jackie Clarke Collection, always at the heart of heritage and history in Ballina is pleased to announce the return of the Irish Defence Forces team, who are stationed at the Curragh Camp,  along with their Ford Mk VI Armoured Car.

This fantastic piece of history will be on display on Walsh Street on Heritage Day July 12th 2017,  where the Defence Forces team will be on hand to share the history of this car.

Due to an unavailability of armoured vehicles for the Defence Forces from external sources during the Emergency, it was decided to produce vehicles designed by the Defence Forces in Ireland. One of these vehicles was the Ford Mk VI. Twenty-eight of these vehicles were produced by Thompson & Sons of Carlow, twenty-one on new chassis and the remaining seven on chassis’ withdrawn from military service. These vehicles would see service throughout the state during the Emergency and were mostly used for border patrols.

In 1961, a total of eleven Ford armoured cars were deployed with Irish Army personnel to Congo as part the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC). While these cars were quite old at this stage, it is a testament to their crews and maintenance staff that six of the eleven cars were handed over in running order to the Congolese forces for their peacekeeping mission when the Irish withdrew. The vehicles stayed in service until 1970.

This event at the Jackie Clarke Collection has been kindly sponsored by the Ballina Manor Hotel. For more information please call 096 73805 or email


Other events in the Jackie Clarke Collection on National Heritage Day
  • Falconry Display with Mount Falcon’s Birds of Prey at 2pm in the Community Garden
  • Moy Fisheries Exhibition
  • Children’s Heritage games in the Courtyard
  • Curation of the Heritage Quarter featuring a number of local heritage tourist attractions
  • Live music

Exhibition: Buildings of County Mayo

The opening of the ‘Buildings of County Mayo’ exhibition takes place in the Courtyard Buildings, Belleek Castle at 6pm on Thursday 13th July 2017.

This touring photographic exhibition promotes the publication of the Mayo survey of the built heritage of the county. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) is the largest ever survey of the post-1700 architectural heritage of County Mayo, some highlights of which are presented within this exhibition. Belleek Castle has been selected to host this exhibition as it demonstrates good practice in the conservation-led adaptive re-use of historic buildings.

This exhibition has been organised with Belleek Castle, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, National Inventory of Architectural Heritage and Mayo County Council.



The exhibition shows daily in the newly renovated Courtyard Buildings at Belleek Castle from 10am – 5pm. Admission is FREE.



Ballina Soroptomists Festival of Flowers

The annual Ballina Soroptomists Festival of Flowers takes place this year on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July from 11.30am – 5pm in the Methodist Church on Hill Street.

For 25 years now, the Ballina Soroptomists have curated the beautiful Festival of Flowers as part of the Ballina Salmon Festival programme. For their silver anniversary this year, the theme of this very special exhibit is “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”, and each arrangement will interpret that theme in its own unique way.

The Flower Festival is an inclusive event that brings together many different groups from the community, including the four churches from the town, and many different clubs and organisations including the Ballina Carer’s Group, The ICA and indeed the Ballina Salmon Festival committee. Volunteers from each submit a creative arrangement for display for the enjoyment of the public.

The Ballina Soroptomists Festival of Flowers is hosted each year by the Methodist Church on Hill Street, and members of the public are invited to come in and enjoy the beautiful floral displays, lovingly created by the various groups.



FREE. Donations welcome with all proceeds going to local charities.

Interested in submitting an arrangement? Contact Marie on 087 7988132, Laura on 086 8432863 or Patricia on 087 4196587.


About Ballina Soroptomists

Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls through a global network of members and partnerships. The Ballina Soroptomists branch is just one year younger than the Ballina Salmon Festival. It was formed on 27th January 1965 in the Downhill Hotel (now the Twin Tress Hotel). Renée Sherry was the very first president. 

National Heritage Day at Ballina Salmon Festival

This year’s National Heritage Day, on Wednesday 12th July, as part of the Ballina Salmon Festival, will be bursting with a myriad of family friendly fun and entertainment comprising a varied assortment of old favourites and new acts for all ages to enjoy.

One of the cornerstones of Ballina Salmon Festival, and an original concept, National Heritage Day at Ballina Salmon Festival was developed by the festival committee over 25 years ago and attracts up to 40,000 people to the town every year.

On this very special day, feast your senses on the sights, sounds and smells of a market day 100 years ago, as the past comes to life and the streets are transformed. You’ll have to look twice! From the whistling of steam engines, to the smell of the thresher and the sound of traditional Irish songs, this is an evocative trip back in time on a scale you won’t find anywhere else.


Musical Entertainment

Across three stages and other various locations throughout the town there will be music, dancing and storytelling.  Back by popular demand, the Garda Band will fill the air with their spectacular sound from the main stage and the Bofield Ceilí Band will carry on the entertainment with their traditional Irish music session. New musical sounds will be noticeable this year as well, with the Clew Bay Critters and lots more local talent taking to the streets and stages.

Dance displays will be provided throughout the day showcasing both traditional and modern dance, from groups such as the Moffatt School of Irish Dance and Music and Tara Kennedy with – Scoil Rince Uí Chinnéide  School of Irish Dance.  And if that doesn’t appeal to your senses them maybe a spot of story-telling might while the time away for you.



A fantastic day of craft displays is also in store for everyone attending Heritage Day; the old to reminisce on days gone by and the young to marvel at the skill and dexterity of the rush-crafter, the wood turners and the rope makers.  The almost forgotten sound of the blacksmith’s hammer and anvil and the smell of the furnace will fill the air while the soft, grinding of the thresher will transport you to by-gone days.  The glass-blower, an uncommon sight today, will captivate all who pass by as the tin-smith exhibits his skills near-by. Wander the streets, soak in the atmosphere, listen to the music and learn about many of these ancient crafts, passed down from generation to generation.

And to pay homage to our celtic heritage, Gnó Mhaigh Eo will be in attendance to encourage the cúpla focal and local sean-nós dancers will enthral with their smooth, rhythmic movement to the sounds of traditional music.


The Heritage Quarter at the Jackie Clarke Collection

The Jackie Clarke Collection on Lower Pearse St. will host the Ballina Heritage Quarter once again, displaying over 6000 years of Irish history and culture.  Traditional, old school children’s games, giving everyone the chance to revisit their youth, will be on show.  The Collection will also be hosting the Moy Fishery Exhibition along with a social exhibition displaying events and occasions reported by the Western People from 1977 to 1987.  From 2pm to 4pm, the beautiful walled heritage garden at the Jackie Clarke will play host as they welcome the return of Jason Deacy and his beautiful Birds of Prey.

Keep an eye out for the special Heritage Day edition of local paper, The Western People, specially produced for this day.  And s an addition to the celebration of Heritage, the Road Safety Authority will have their simulator in town to encourage the whole community to consider their own and others safety.

Add to the mix a great selection of food, live music and good old-fashioned fun, and you’ll soon see why this is the biggest day of the year in Ballina.


Don’t just come to watch – become part of Heritage Day!

National Heritage Day is not just a day to come along and witness – it’s an immersive experience, and locals and visitors alike are encouraged to dress up and participate in this exhibition of living history. Everyone is welcome to take part. You can hire a costume from Ballina Costume Company located in the old Parochial Hall on Bury Street – call +353 (0)96 72154 or email Why not get into character and join in the fun?





The Garda Band

The Garda Band was established shortly after the establishment of An Garda Síochána. It gave its first public performance on Dun Laoghaire Pier on Easter Monday, 1923. Over the years, a a céilí band, pipe band and dance orchestra were formed from within the ranks. After being disbanded in 1965, it was re-established in 1972 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of An Garda Síochána.  Besides providing music for official Garda functions (such as Graduation Ceremonies at the Garda College) the Garda Band undertakes a heavy community-orientated programme each year performing at schools, festivals and sporting events.The Garda Band has travelled to many international events, representing Ireland on a number of occasions at police festivals and concerts in Switzerland, Germany and Northern Ireland.



National Heritage Day is kindly sponsored by McFadden Funfairs and Midwest Radio.

Ballina Salmon Festival Party Night -Gorilla Radio & Battle of the DJs

On Tuesday 11th July from 8pm it’s time to get your party feet ready for the Festival Party Night, with the best of home-grown talent taking to the stage and decks in the Military Quarter to deliver a night to remember!


Gorilla Radio Live

Proudly sponsored by Bar Square, first up on Festival Party Night are local heroes Gorilla Radio with their party-tastic killer set, mixing commercial rock, hip hop and rap, to name just a few. Familiar faces on the Irish rock scene, it’s great to have them performing as part of the Ballina Salmon Festival programme. Their high energy stage performance will shake you to your boots, have you dancing in the streets and bouncing off the walls in the Military Quarter!

See Gorilla Radio live in Bar Square:


Ballina’s Battle of the DJs

Next up it’s Ballina’s Battle of the DJs as four of Ballina’s legendary deck-spinners go head to head with the best of bangin’ tunes from the 80s and 90s. It’s the DJs of the legendary HOTHOUSE (Dermot Rice and John Moyles aka NRG2) vs. LONGNECKS with Sean Loftus & PJ Walsh, rocking your socks late into the evening playing the very est of 80s and 90s tunes.

Dress up, get down and rock out from 8 ‘til late to at the Ballina Salmon Festival Party Night, See you there!


More information

Tuesday 11th July 8pm in the Military Quarter

Admission €5


The Festival Party Night is kindly sponsored by  Bar Square.

Bar Square half page-1


Festival Lunch Al Fresco in Luskin’s Pop-up Bistro

For the foodies among you, this new event on the festival calendar is one not to be missed. Local restaurateur Gerry Luskin, of Luskin’s Bar and Bistro is for one day only, bringing you a pop-up al-fresco dining experience under the canopy in the Military Quarter, Ballina as part of the Ballina Salmon Festival programme.

Festival Lunch Al Fresco will be a lunch to remember, but you’ll need to get booking fast!

Sample Gerry’s specially prepared festival menu on Tuesday 11th July from 1pm – 2pm.

The Luskin family business, Luskin’s Bistro is now well-established in the Old Bond Store Courtyard in Dillon Terrace, and Gerry is well-known locally for his use of the freshest, locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. This specially prepared, once-off menu will feature some classic dishes with a real Ballina twist. Guests can avail of this special two-course meal (main and dessert) and a glass of wine for €20. There will also be musical entertainment on the day to make for a truly cosmopolitan lunch experience!


Spaces are limited to 30, so advance booking is essential.

To claim a spot, call the Ballina Salmon Festival Office on (096) 79814 or call into Ballina Tourist Office on Pearse Street. Pre-pay to guarantee your spot.

Tuesday 11th July, 1-2pm, the Military Quarter. Admission €20, booking essential

Tracing the Sublime – exposing the beauty and nature of our Wild Atlantic Way

“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts.” Rebecca Solnit

The work of local artist Charlotte Lavelle is inspired by the  land forms, beauty, and ideas of the sublime; her practice situated in connection with the Wild Atlantic Way. Charlotte’s work endeavours to expose the beauty and nature of place, exploring gestural and panoramic compositions. By walking in rural and coastal  areas, and by paint and mark-making she looks at ways to represent this magnificent landscape using scroll or canvas as a surface.

Charlotte documents her work using mixed media; photography, sketching and paint. Materials used include ink, watercolour, acrylic and oil on paper and canvas, each medium conveying a sense of spaceand creating a lyrical quality in her compositions through a joyful exploration of colour.

Coastal Photography is a series of coastal images, representing a more minimal approach in the portrayal of the expansiveness of the Atlantic Ocean along the West coast of Ireland. Entitled “Tracing the Sublime”, this art exhibition, showing in Ballina Library from 16th June to 14th July explores places along the Wild Atlantic Way and includes photography, oil paintings and water colours.



Venue: Mayo County Library, Pearse Street, Ballina

Dates: 16th June – 15th July 2017

Opening Hours: 

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10.00am – 8.00pm
Wednesday: 10.00am – 8.00pm
Thursday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Friday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 4.00pm

Admission: FREE

Tracing the Sublime artist Charlotte Lavelle Ballina Salmon Festival

A Night at the Proms at Ballina Salmon Festival

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