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Ballina town prepares for 300th anniversary

WHAT better way to herald the beginning of the end of the pandemic than to launch plans to celebrate the 300th anniversary of your local town and plot an optimistic path for its future. There was an atmosphere of hope and confidence on Friday, 17th September at the official launch of Ballina 2023 in the Walled Garden at the Jackie Clarke Collection on Pearse Street in the town.
In 2023, 300 years will have elapsed since the town’s formal inception by Lord Tyrawley. While much has to be done over the next year and 3 months, a steering group, consisting of community, cultural and business interests, is planning for a year-long series of collaborative events and activities to celebrate the town and create a legacy that will perpetuate long into the future.
It is hoped, of course, to re-awaken international interest in the North Mayo capital which proudly boasts of some distinguished ancestry, with the possibility of some significant presidential visits during the year. It will be an appropriate time to welcome home the diaspora of the area, as well as those with ancestry in the many towns and villages of north Mayo.
Speaking at the launch Chairman of Ballina 2023, Cllr Jarlath Munnelly, said the project provided a huge opportunity to celebrate the town’s past but also to leave a significant legacy. Along with celebrating the town’s 300 years it was also about engaging with the community and getting them involved. We can enhance civic pride and love of place for people inside and outside the town by demonstrating the town’s many attributes in a new light.
The occasion was marked by the official unveiling of the Ballina 2023 logo, alongside the slogan for the event; “A year of celebration.
A lifelong connection.” Cathaoirleach of the Ballina Municipal District, Counclllor Annie May Reape, who had spoken earlier about the significance of the event on Mid-West Radio, declared Ballina 2023 live.
A special video, “The Calling”, showcasing the sites and spirit of Ballina and its hinterland, including some pivotal events in its recent history, was launched and viewed for the first time by those attending. It can now be viewed and shared all over the globe on social media and on the official Ballina 2023 website.
Later in the afternoon, attention swung to Tom Ruane Park on the Sligo Road and the first of many Ballina 2023 live events which are in the pipeline over the coming months in the lead-up to the official year. “Beginnings”, also part of Culture Night celebrations, featured entertainment from up-and-coming singer-songwriter and TV star Michael Maloney, Billow Wood, Bradley Brock, Fionnuala O’Boyle and David Lynn.
Good social distancing protocols were adhered to and those pursuing Ballina’s quest to become Ireland’s greenest town would be impressed by the decision to encourage attendees to park in the town’s existing car parks and walk or cycle to the event as part of National Bike Week. Indeed, a number of cyclists undertook a special cycle around the bridges to mark the occasion.