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Béal Átha na Slua
Saint John's Church, Ballinasloe
Saint John's Church, Ballinasloe
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
Country Ireland
Province Connacht
County County Galway
Dail constituency Galway East
Barony Clonmacnowen
Civil parish Kilcloony
Poor law union (hist) Ballinasloe
Elevation 65 m (213 ft)
Irish Grid Reference M854307

Ballinasloe /ˌbælɪnæˈsl/ (Irish: Béal Átha na Slua, meaning "ford mouth of the crowds")[6] is a town in the easternmost part of County Galway in Ireland. It is regarded as the largest town in County Galway with a population of 7,674, which includes Ballinasloe Urban and Ballinasloe Rural.

Name and history[edit]

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 at Kilcloony. 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.

October Fair and Festival[edit]

Every October, Ballinasloe is host to the ancient annual October Fair. Chiefly agricultural in the past, it is now focused on the horse. Ballinasloe Fair is one of the oldest horse fairs in Europe; bathed in history it dates back to the 18th century. Today the ever popular fair is still held, along with a festival that attracts up to 100,000 visitors from all over the world. The town also boasts a successful summer festival called An tSúca Fiain.


The biggest local employers are Portiuncula and St. Brigid's hospitals. The Dubarry shoe manufacturing company has been based in the town, although manufacturing at the plant ceased in November 2004.[7] The American pen manufacturing company A. T. Cross had a factory in the town for many years as did electrical components company Square D.

Ballinasloe like much of rural Ireland enjoyed a period of growth and expansion in the 2000s, thanks to the "Celtic Tiger" economic boom. However the town has suffered since the financial crash of 2008 and like many small towns in the region, it has seen a brain drain of the youth and educated.

Businesses and shops face competition from larger towns such as Athlone and Galway City.

As of 2015, employment in the town centres around its hotels, hospital and factories.

Supermacs opened their first store there and there is now four stores open.

Notable people[edit]


Ballinasloe railway station opened on 1 August 1851,[8] and is served by the DublinGalway railway line. Once a notorious bottleneck on the old Galway to Dublin road, on 18 December 2009, the town was officially bypassed for the first time, when the M6 motorway opened as an upgrade to the N6. 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. Grand Canal provided an easy route for Guinness barges to travel from Dublin to Shannon Harbour. A new public marina has been developed on the river in recent years that allows traffic from the Shannon navigation to access the town.

Local media[edit]

A number of 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 2 local radio stations, Galway Bay FM and Shannonside FM. Local radio from other neighbouring counties such as Midlands 103 and Tipp FM are well received in the area. National stations in the area include RTÉ Radio 1, 2FM, RTÉ Lyric FM, Today FM and 4FM.


Ballinasloe itself harbours historically rich 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 is one of the most successful association football clubs in the area, playing its games at The Curragh Grounds in the town. Ballinasloe has a boxing tradition as well, and two resident boxing clubs.


In Ballinasloe there are four national schools (Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh, Creagh National School, St Teresa's Special School and Scoil an Chroí Naofa) and two secondary schools (St Joseph's College, Garbally and Ard Scoil Mhuire).[citation needed]

Twin towns[edit]

France Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, France. Since 1988.

Annalistic references[edit]

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 also[edit]


  1. ^ Census for post 1821 figures. Archived 20 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  7. ^ "Case Study of Dubarry by Enterprise Ireland"
  8. ^ "Ballinasloe station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 

External links[edit]

  • Official Ballinasloe Town website with an interactive events guide, directory and all the local news and information.
  • A Ballinasloe Town website with a popular forum and with information on the town for visitors and residents alike
  • An independent site with articles on Ballinasloe's history as well as a tips on genealogical research.
  • Tourist Information for Ballinasloe: Provides information on Ballinasloe's attractions, activities and businesses.