The festival first took place in Ballina in 1964 and was at the time called the ‘Moy Salmon Festival’. The original organisers new that the town was home to one of the best Rivers in Ireland with the best fishing waters and salmon in the country.
They decided to rename the festival the ‘Ballina Salmon Festival’ which today is a leading community based festival in the West of Ireland and the highlight of the summer months. Every year over 200,000 people descend on the North Mayo capital to enjoy an eight-day festival that is estimated to bring millions to the local economy.
The festival has been through its ups and downs since it first took off in 1964, with it slipping through the cracks in the last recession in the 80’s. But since 1991 it has come back and continues to thrive. The festival has a price tag of over €280,000 when entertainment and all associated costs are paid. This money is generated through fund-raising and some grant aid. A team of over thirty volunteers work all year round to compile, organise and market a ‘programme of events’ to span the duration of the festival and cater for the young and old alike.
The Ballina Salmon Festival is proud of its family-centered focus with an action packed programme that includes old favourites like Lady of the Moy, Heritage Day, Mardi Rag and Firework Display, along with river based events like fishing competitions and raft races. New events are introduced annually to keep the festival fresh and up-to-date with modern life expectations. One third of the festival’s entire programme is dedicated solely to children. When such an extensive line-up is considered, the workload truly is immense so the festival committee is urging all those who can help, either financially or voluntarily, to please lend a hand.