Ballina Salmon Festival Celebrates its 60th Anniversary launch in 2024

The Ballina Salmon Festival, Ireland’s longest-running community festival along the Wild Atlantic Way, is set to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2024. With a packed program of events officially launched last Friday night, this year’s festival promises to be the biggest and best yet, featuring a blend of new attractions and beloved traditional favourites, running from July 6th-14th.

The origins of the Ballina Salmon Festival trace back to a dark November night in 1963, when the Ballina Chamber of Commerce, inspired by the success of the Rose of Tralee, sought to create a signature event for their town. The festival was envisioned as a celebration cantered around the world-famous River Moy salmon, a concept proposed by Chamber secretary Liam Molloy and enthusiastically supported by prominent council member and Chamber president Benny Walkin. The inaugural Moy Festival, as it was initially called, was born from this visionary meeting.

Sixty years later, the festival continues to honour its roots by supporting the community, celebrating Ballina’s unique heritage and landscape, and showcasing its natural assets. The launch event for the 2024 festival was held at the Mary Robinson Centre Climate Hub, located on the banks of the River Moy, and attended by festival organizers, volunteers, community leaders, politicians, and invited guests, including the 2023 Lady of the Moy, Lyndsay Golden.

During the launch, Benny Walkin, former Chairperson, Chief Steward, and now President of the festival, highlighted the spirit and determination of the organizers in promoting the vibrant town of Ballina. Festival chairperson Mary Dunne expressed her gratitude to the business community and volunteers whose unwavering support makes the festival possible. She praised the behind-the-scenes efforts of Mags Downey and Mary Moyles from Ballina Chamber of Commerce and acknowledged the tireless work of the festival committee members and volunteers.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary emphasized the festival’s significance, noting its role in bringing national attention to Ballina and reuniting families and generations. Cathaoirleach of Ballina Municipal District Council and former councillor Seamus Weir spoke of the pride that the community takes in the festival, describing it as the cornerstone of the town’s festivities.

Other speakers included Children’s Programme Coordinators Lynda Browne, National Heritage Day representative Joe Doherty, and current Lady of the Moy, Lyndsay Golden, who performed a song on the night. Festival Creative Director Emma Donoghue introduced the ‘Treasure of Ballina’ project, an exhibition set to run during the festival week at the Civic Offices of Ballina Municipal District Council.

Special thanks were extended to the sponsors and supporters who made the launch event a success: Tesco Ireland for sponsoring the Festival Launch, O’Hara’s of Foxford Bakery for the beautiful salmon-inspired cake, Joe Garvin for sponsoring the real salmon and The Cot & Cobble for preparing it, Charlie Doherty, Daybreak Ballina, Coca-Cola, Donna O’Regan for preparing the food and the wonderful Soroptimists. Special words of thanks to Susan Heffernan Project Manager and Emma Donoghue Climate Leadership Programme Officer, and the staff of the Mary Robinson Centre for hosting the event.

Music for the launch was provided by 17-year-old singer-songwriter Nessa Ruane Dalton, the festival busking winner of 2023, with Michael D McAndrew of Midwest Radio serving as the MC for the evening.

The Ballina Salmon Festival 2024 promises a week of celebration, community spirit, and cultural enrichment, ensuring that both locals and visitors, young and old, have an unforgettable experience.