Ballaghaderreen is a busy Cathedral town situated on the Mayo/Roscommon border near the source of the Lung River, which empties into Lough Gara. Beyond rises a chain of sandstone hills, stretching northeastward to the shores of Lough Key. On approach from the east, you pass the home of the First President of Ireland, Dr Douglas Hyde, after whom the ‘Douglas Hyde’ (annual Irish history) Conference is named, as well as a School of Traditional Irish Music, Song and Dance. From the front of the Hyde Interpretative Centre, one gets their first view of the scenery and landscape that has inspired generations of great Irish people.
Six km from the town is a delightfully maintained 9-hole golf course with an abundance of fast maturing trees. A Museum which opens during the summer months is located on College Road.
Article by local Ballagh man & Irish Times journalist Patsy McGarry - extracted from: ‘Many neighbours are in their mid-90s. See Ballagh and live forever’
See Ballagh and live forever. On December 7th my own family will be 50 years there. We crossed galaxies from Mullen, a town land 10km to the east, in Co Roscommon, where McGarrys had lived since before there was time. Mullen has almost entirely disappeared beneath battalions of all-conquering conifers.
My parents moved to Ballaghaderreen because of education. Then, as now, it had a reputation for great schools. With six of us and another to come, schools were a major issue then. For us kids it was also a great place to grow up and, for our parents, a great place to raise the family. Then, as now, that was a community effort. Then, as now, crime was minimal and petty. Safe for families. Safe for everyone. Housing then too was affordable, the quality of life good and the people decent.
Ballagh still ticks all those boxes. Its primary school has an excellent reputation. (Of course! The principal is my sister Sinéad Mangan.) St Nathy’s College recently celebrated a tradition of providing 200 years of second-level education, a history with few equals for longevity or quality elsewhere in Ireland.
The town has state-of-the-art Gaelic and soccer pitches, a new rugby club, a very successful cricket club and some of the best coarse fishing in the west. It also has a busy nine-hole golf course. Walks are plentiful and scenic, with no traffic.
It also has a very active traditional music scene, and, for those into history, there’s more than 4,000 years of lore locally. And there’s Clarke’s pub, with some of the best steaks (seriously) in Ireland at Durkin’s, on the Square. A friend who retired to Ballaghaderreen in recent years after a lifetime in the UK is so busily involved with local activities she just exudes contentment.
The town is also centrally located, about 50km from Castlebar, Sligo and Carrick-on- Shannon, with their theatres and restaurants. The only drawback is unemployment, meaning many young people have to emigrate.
But, for those who stay, Ballagh is the undiscovered country from which no traveller really wants to return. PATSY McGARRY