Some of the 2023 highlights include a Macnas Community Parade and Fireworks Display, Vikings of the Moy, Beat on the Street, The Moy Swim, Teddy Bears’ Picnic and, of course, Heritage Day.

By David Dwane

Ballina Salmon Festival 2023 is shaping up to be the biggest yet, with this year’s packed programme officially launched on Friday night last week.

New events will sit comfortably beside traditional favourites to ensure a successful festival for locals and visitors alike, young and old.

The delightful setting of the Connacht Distillery, located on the banks of the River Moy, provided the ideal atmosphere for a festival launch, which was attended by festival organisers and volunteers, community leaders, politicians and other invited guests, as well as the 2022 Lady of the Moy, Cara Downey-Martin.

At the formal launch of this year’s festival, Milo Molloy, finance director of the Connacht Distillery, which sponsored the launch event, pointed to the spirit and determination of the organisers in showcasing the wonderful town that is Ballina.

Festival chairperson Mary Dunne thanked the large gathering for turning out and spoke about the valuable assets Ballina enjoys such as the River Moy, and the great work the community does to promote the area.

Ms Dunne paid tribute to the businesspeople of Ballina without whose help the festival would not happen.

“They come out year in, year out to support this festival, regardless of what their circumstances are,” she said.

She praised the work of Mags Downey and Tracey Glacken from Ballina Chamber of Commerce for their tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts, and also the Ballina Salmon Festival committee members and the many festival volunteers.

The role of Ballina Chamber of Commerce was outlined by the chamber’s President, Tracey Glacken, who said the organisation had taken over the running of the festival in 2019.

“It was a bit of a shock to the system to be running the festival and to know exactly what was involved in it, but we have a great team working on it,” she said.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary emphasised that the festival is the biggest week for the town, an event that has put Ballina on the national stage every year for decades. Praising festival chairperson Mary Dunne, Deputy Calleary said: “I cannot think of better hands for the festival to be in. Ballina Salmon Festival is the magnet that brings people home, brings families home, brings generations home.”

Cllr Mark Duffy, Cathaoirleach of Ballina Municipal District Council, spoke about the pride that everyone takes in Ballina Salmon Festival, which he described as the bedrock of the town in terms of festivities.

“Celebrating the 300th anniversary of the town this year, we’ve had some great days so far. This can be – and will be – the highlight, but it does need support,” he remarked.

Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh congratulated the organisers on the excellent programme which has been lined up.

Music for the occasion was provided by up-and-coming 16-year-old singer-songwriter Joanne Gallagher.

Ballina Salmon Festival 2023 runs from July 8th to 15th.