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Irish: Béal Átha na Sluaighe
County Galway, County Roscommon
Ballinasloe church.jpg
Saint John's Church
Grid reference: M854307
Location: 53°19’39"N, 8°13’10"W
Population: 7,674
Local Government
Council: Galway, Roscommon

Ballinasloe is a town spanning the borders of the counties of Galway and Roscommon. 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

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.

October Fair and Festival

Every October, Ballinasloe is host to the ancient annual October Fair. Chiefly agricultural in the past, it is now focused on the horse. The 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.[1] The American pen manufacturing company A. T. Cross had a factory in the town for many years as did electrical components company Square D.


  • Patrick Green, recipient of the Victoria Cross


Ballinasloe railway station opened on 1 August 1851,[2] 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. The Guinness Company used the town's canal stores to store and distribute the Guinness to the midlands. The 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.


Ballinasloe itself harbours historically rich association football, golf, and Rugby football clubs, whilst also containing the Duggan Park Gaelic Athletic Association grounds. Gaelic games are perhaps the most deeply entrenched and most popular sporting culture in the town, most of all in its surrounding hinterland. The local GAA clubs are Ballinasloe GAA (incorporating St Grellan's Gaelic football club and Ballinasloe Hurling Club) Derrymullen Handball Club and Ballinasloe Camogie Club. Ballinasloe also has a proud boxing tradition and has two resident boxing clubs Emerald ABC and Ballinasloe and District.


In Ballinasloe there are three national schools (Scoil Uí Cheithearnaigh, Creagh National School and Scoil an Chroí Naofa) and two secondary schools (St Josephs College Garbally and Ard Scoil Mhuire).


Ballinasloe is home to Galway recording artist Milan Jay. He has so far released one studio album entitled "Mellow Funk" in Dec 2009. "We Believe in Drawing the Dole/Sono" has been the biggest hit to date featuring plays on BBC 6 Music and 2XM as well as numerous Irish stations.

Annalistic references

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.

Outside links

  • Ballinasloe Town website with up-to-date local news and 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.
("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ballinasloe)