We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Ballina in Co Mayo.
Founded in 1723 by Lord Tyrawley, an Irish officer in the British Army, the garrison town of Ballina, or Béal Átha an Fheada (the mouth of the ford), started out as thriving seaport and market town on the River Moy in the 16th century.
The first signs of settlement in the town dates back to around 1375 when an Augustinian friary was founded, however, it was officially established as a town in 1723.
Rich in history, the town has evolved since General Jean Humbert marched through Ballina during the French Rebellion, but the town’s market heritage remains visible in the vibrant shopping streets.
From its foundation until the early 1900s, the Irish language was the primary language spoken in Ballina. As Irish began to decline in other parts of Ireland during the colonial period, it remained strong in Ballina. By the 1920s, however, English had become the dominant language in the town.
Based in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, gateway to North Mayo, Ballina is just a 40 minute drive from Ireland West International Airport, easily accessible by rail and bus is the perfect base to relocate, raise a family, start a business and have the perfect work-life balance.
The 2016 census reported an increase in population in the Ballina urban area of 10,637, an increase of 5pc with the Ballina Municipal District figures now at 15,981.
The town saw a 68pc increase in visitors recorded in Ballina Tourist Office in 2017, and a further 45pc in 2018. Ballina has improved in the Tidy Towns rankings in recent years, receiving a bronze medal in 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as being awarded the Best Kept Large Town in Ireland with improved figures, support of and marketing of over 30 festivals and events in Ballina and Mayo North region.
Since The Gathering 2013, new bonds were created to further improve the perception of Ballina, strategic partnerships were made by chamber of commerce with local government, public sector bodies, private businesses and commercial enterprises, who all play a vital role in contributing to the improvement, development and enhancement of Ballina.
Purple Flag was awarded to Ballina again in 2017, having been the first town in Connacht to receive the award in 2014. It was awarded to the town again in 2019. Ballina is the only town in Connacht to have the Purple Flag Award.
Ballina has taken a strategic step forward in its own future and while the chamber of commerce leads this project, it wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative working between community groups, local government and local businesses in the area.
To find out what date your town will be assessed by the judges for the 2019 National Enterprise Town Awards, click here.
Written by Stephen Larkin
Published on 9 August, 2019