Irish: Béal Átha Beithe
First Presbyterian Church, Ballybay
Ballybay is a town in County Monaghan centred on the crossroads of the R183 and R162 regional roads. The name in is from the Irish Béal Átha Beithe meaning "The Mouth of the Ford of the Birches".
The town is the meeting point for roads going to Monaghan, Castleblayney, Carrickmacross and Clones. The town grew up from the convergence of the roads. The town is built beside a large lake, Lough Major and the smaller Lough Minor. The Dromore River also runs through the south of the town, past Pearse Brother's Football Grounds, and past the Riverdale Hotel.
The town grew up in the 18th century, gaining its prosperity from the linen industry founded by the Jackson family. The Town council (Ballybay Development Committee) was established around 1870.
Buildings of note
- Ballybay Market House is a four-bay two-storey building built in 1848. Ballybay also has a popular hotel, Riverdale, as well as a three star b and b, and Ballybay Community college, the local secondary school,
Ballybay railway station opened on 17 July 1854, was closed to passenger traffic on 14 October 1957 and finally closed altogether on 1 January 1960.
Today the town welcomes a large number of tourists, a large proportion of whom are bird watchers who frequent the town to make use of the newly renovated lake district built around the local Lough Major. The town is also a popular destination for fishermen who travel to the town to take part in various fishing competitions. Many tourists travel to The Ballybay Wetlands Centre, which is a popular area for birdwatchers and hikers.
The town has a strong GAA presence. It is home to Ballybay Pearse Brothers GAA. The club's home ground is Pearse Park, located on the outskirts of the town. Since 1935, the club has won the Monaghan Senior Football Championship on eight occasions, most recently in 2012. They amalgamated with Drumhowan GAA to form St Pats at Minor and U16 level.
John Cummins, a successful racing car driver in America, was born in Ballybay.
The singer-songwriter Tommy Makem wrote a light-hearted song about the town, "In the Town of Ballybay." The prominent Jackson family in Ballybay were also involved with and married into other members of the United Irishmen movement such as Oliver Bond. One Ballybay Jackson and United Irishman, James Jackson, fled to the United States where he became a prominent politician, horseman, and owner of the Forks of Cypress Plantation. He is also a white ancestor of author Alex Haley and is a character and subject of his book Queen: The Story of an American Family and miniseries Alex Haley's Queen portrayed by Martin Sheen.
- "Ballybay station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20070926042407/http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-10.