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Baile an tSratha
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Ballintra (Irish: Baile an tSratha) is a village in the parish of Drumholm in the south of County Donegal, Ireland, just off the N15 between Donegal town and Ballyshannon. The village is geographically situated in a limestone area and this natural resource is quarried locally for the building and civil engineering industries.
Ballintra lies on the northern bank of the Blackwater river. (The river is sometimes referred to as Ballintra River). The river rises in the hills that lie inland from the town, and flows through a number of small lakes before spilling over a small waterfall in a narrow gorge behind the village. The Blackwater runs low in summer. The Irish meaning of Ballintra Baile an tSratha, means town beside the beach.
Ballintra has two public houses (Jamesie's and the Bay Bush), a grocery store, a takeaway, a hairdresser, two primary schools (St. Ernan's NS and The Robertson NS) and three churches (Methodist, Church of Ireland, and Roman Catholic). Ballintra is also situated close to Rossnowlagh and Murvagh beaches.
Every August bank holiday, visitors attend the Ballintra Races, in which horse races are held on in a field close to a nearby beach (Murvagh). Proceeds from this go to local amenities in the area.
Ballintra is the backdrop to a Gaelic Storm song entitled "Darcy's Donkey" (from the album What's the Rumpus?). The song includes references to the town, the August horse races, and Jamesie's bar.
The people of Ballintra and the parish of Drumholm belong mainly to three religious denominations - Methodist, Church of Ireland, and Roman Catholic. The first of these are a minority and the latter two make up the remainder in almost equal parts. The village itself is probably now majority Roman Catholic.
In the 1970s Donegal County Council built a small number of social housing units just off the Main Street on the Forge Road. A number of phases followed in which an additional twenty houses were added. A further change was the bypass of the village in the early 1980s.
Decline of the Irish language
The 1911 census records only a handful of people in Ballintra who were Irish speakers. In his paper "Irish Speaking in the Pre-famine Period", Dr. Garret Fitzgerald remarks that "near Ballintra the language seems to have disappeared by the time of the Famine. Around Ballyshannon it also seems to have been almost extinct". As late as 1960 up to a few dozen native Irish speakers remained in Tamhnach a' Mhullaigh (Grassy upland). The Irish scholar and campaigner Máirtín Ó Cadhain visited the area in 1957 to record folklore stores in Irish from a family in the area.
- Thomas Morrow, who became a politician in New South Wales, was born in Ballintra.
- Leonard Boyle, a Canadian scholar, was born in Ballintra.
- Saint Assicus is buried in Ballymagroarty, Ballintra. He was St Patrick's blacksmith and was travelling from Elphin, County Roscommon, en route to County Down.
- "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Ballintra". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 4 June 2018.
- Editor. "Ballintra / Laghey Notes" Archived 2012-08-01 at Archive.is, Donegal Democrat, July 23, 2009, accessed July 11, 2011.
- "Ballintra station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- Fitzgerald, Garret (2003). "Irish-Speaking in the Pre-Famine Period: A Study Based on the 1911 Census Data for People Born before 1851 and Still Alive in 1911". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Culture, History, Literature. 103C (5): 191–283. JSTOR 25506198.