Ballinasloe (/ˌbælɪnæˈsl/ bal-en-a-SLOH; Irish: Béal Átha na Sluaighe, meaning "mouth of the ford of the crowds")[9] 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.[3]


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
CouncilGalway County Council
Dáil constituencyRoscommon–Galway
Civil parishesKilcloony[1]
 • 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


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. 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.

During the 2009 floods in Ireland, the River Suck burst its banks and caused major flooding in Ballinasloe.[10] About 40 families were evacuated by boat after the flooding caused over €8 million worth of damage to homes and businesses in the town, which were left under water for several weeks.[11][12]


Main Street, Ballinasloe, where the first Supermac's restaurant is located

Fast-food restaurant Supermac's opened its first restaurant in Ballinasloe in 1978.[13] The restaurant chain is now present in over 116 locations, including three stores in the town.[14]

Ballinasloe was traditionally an agricultural economy, though the 1980s and 1990s saw a number of factories locate in the town. 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.[15] Both factories are located in the Business & Technology Park, which is a 39-acre site.[16]

Another contributor to the local economy is the Enterprise Centre.[17] Managed by the Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD), it is located on the outskirts of Ballinasloe along the Creagh Road.[17] As of mid-2020, there were 26 enterprises based in the centre,[18] with 9 more regularly using the training, meeting and hot-desk facilities.[19]

Local business in the town centre focuses on stores and restaurants. Gullane's Hotel, a three-star hotel, has served the area since 1943.[20] The Shearwater Hotel, a four-star hotel, is located at Marina Point, just across from Lidl.[21]

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.[22]

In June 2020, fears began to grow for the future of 120 jobs at an Aptar factory in Ballinasloe.[23] Several TDs called for a multi-agency taskforce to respond to the issue.[24][25] On 28 August 2020, Aptar confirmed it would cease operations at the facility by December 2020, with the loss of 115 jobs.[26][27] In a statement, Aptar announced that industrial equipment would be transferred to other Aptar global sites between September and November 2020.[28][29]


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

October FairEdit

Sculpture by James McCarthy which monumentalises the Ballinasloe Horse Fair

The Ballinasloe Horse Fair is held annually in October. It is reputedly the oldest horse fair in Europe and dates back to the 18th century.[30] Chiefly agricultural in the past, it is now focused on the horse, and the associated festival attracts up to 80,000 visitors.[31] A large market typically takes place, along with a number of events, fireworks, a dog show and a fun fair beside Ballinasloe's town theatre. The 2020 event, which would have been the 298th fair, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[32][33]

Larry Reynolds' WeekendEdit

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.[34] The festival sees a number of traditional music performances in the different bars around town.

What would have been the seventh event, due to have taken place from 10 September to 13 September 2020, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[35]

Other eventsEdit

The Strings Festival, a music event focusing on stringed instruments, was hosted by Ballinasloe library in July 2017 and 2018.[36]

A "Zombie Walk" is held at Halloween on the grounds of the Garbally estate.[37] First held in 2015, the event involves "zombie" tour-guides bringing groups through Garbally woods. The 2019 Zombie Walk event was shortened to one day due to the weather,[38] and the 2020 event was cancelled outright in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland.[39]

Places of interestEdit

  • 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.
  • Clontuskert Abbey is a National Monument, located approximately 7 km from the town. The cloister and church of the medieval priory are open-access to the public.
  • Hymany Way is a hiking trail between Portumna and Aughrim, following the banks of the River Shannon. The trail passes through Ballinasloe.
  • 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.
  • Famine Remembrance Park is a Famine memorial park located approximately 1 km from the town centre in Cleaghmore.


The Grand Canal extended across the River Shannon with a branch to 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 Éireann and CityLink serving the town on their Limerick to Galway and Dublin to Galway routes.


The Ballinasloe railway station opened on 1 August 1851,[40] 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. The Grand Canal provided a route for Guinness barges to travel from Dublin to Shannon Harbour. The town features a public marina which was developed on the River Suck to allow traffic from the Shannon Navigation to access the town.[41]

Local mediaEdit

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 one university hospital, Portiuncula University Hospital. Opened by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood in 1943, it is managed by the Saolta University Health Care Group.[42][43][44] Ballinasloe had one psychiatric hospital, St. Brigid's Hospital, opened as the Connacht Asylum in 1833. After the introduction of deinstitutionalisation in the late 1980s[45][46] the hospital went into a period of decline and closed in 2013.[47][48]


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


St. Michael's Church in Ballinasloe
St. John's Church in Ballinasloe

Ballinasloe has two Catholic churches (St. Michael's Church and Our Lady of Lourdes Church) and one Evangelical Protestant church (St. John's Church).[49]


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 (Garbally College and Ardscoil Mhuire).[50]

Twin townsEdit

Ballinasloe has been twinned with Chalonnes-sur-Loire, in Maine-et-Loire, France, since 1988.[51]

Notable peopleEdit

Annalistic referencesEdit

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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Civil parishes of Ballinasloe". Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Population Density and Area Size 2016". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Ballinasloe". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Home - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Archived from the original on 20 September 2010.
  5. ^ "HISTPOP.ORG - Home". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Bunachar Logainmneacha na hÉireann".
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  12. ^ Gleeson, Colin (21 November 2009). "Town 'could soon be totally cut off'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Pat McDonagh: start-up essentials". JOE. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  14. ^ Hamilton, Peter (6 February 2019). "Supermac's owner plans to add 300 staff in 2019". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
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  17. ^ a b "Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Ballinasloe Area Community Development". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  19. ^ "HOT DESKING Now available in Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre". Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Gullane's Hotel Galway, Hotel in Galway". Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Shearwater Hotel". Retrieved 3 August 2020.
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  36. ^ "Diversity and quality reign in Ballinasloe Strings Festival". Connacht Tribune. 13 July 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  37. ^ "Ballinasloe Halloween Zombie Walk 2019 - Garbally Woods, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway". Retrieved 31 October 2019.
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  39. ^ "ballinasloe-life-issue-58.pdf" (PDF). Ballinasloe Life. Vol. 10 no. 4. p. 3. Retrieved 2 October 2020. The now annual Zombie Walk has also been cancelled due to the Pandemic
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External linksEdit

  Media related to Ballinasloe at Wikimedia Commons

  • - 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.