If you are travelling westwards from Roscommon, Ballyhaunis is the first town you meet after you cross the border into County Mayo. Situated on the intersection of the N60 and N83 National secondary roads, it is a busy town, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of green fields, lakes, wild bog and beautiful country lanes.
Ballyhaunis is centrally positioned in the heart of Connaught, just 10km from Knock Marian Shrine and 25km from Ireland West Airport Knock. Ballyhaunis has good transport links, with several services each day by the Dublin/Westport Irish Rail line and also daily bus connections via Bus Eireann to the four provinces.
Ballyhaunis grew up around the Augustinian Friary, founded in 1348, which is an exceptional building with a fascinating history. It was owned and ministered as a place of worship by the Augustinian Friars for several hundred years up to its closure in 2002 when the order withdrew from the town. Subsequently the entire Augustinian property, comprising the Abbey house, cemetery and fourteen acres of land, was handed over to a local trust. The Abbey Trust is now managed by The Abbey Partnership on behalf of the community.
The town and the surrounding hinterland is steeped in history and there are many other places of archaeological and historical interest, including ring and stone forts and one of the highest concentrations of megalithic monuments in the West of Ireland. There are also a number of holy wells, the site of an old castle and church and abbey sites.
Ballyhaunis has a mixed community where farming, private business and industry are the main sources of employment. The bulk of the town's employment is provided by sizeable steel fabrication and food processing industries, supplying the Irish and overseas markets. Its central location has long made Ballyhaunis an ideal centre of distribution for many businesses and there is also construction, furniture manufacturing and a large number of ancillary construction service providers. Other areas of employment include retail, government, financial and professional services.
There are also approx 250 people employed in agriculture but mainly in a part-time capacity.
A choice of private and community funded creche and pre-school facilities are available in Ballyhaunis. In the field of primary education Scoil Íosa is the main school, with two sections (Junior & Senior). The long established Scoil Íosa Parent Association is a structure through which parents / guardians and Scoil Íosa can work together for the best possible education for their children. There are a number of other smaller primary schools in the hinterland surrounding Ballyhaunis. Secondary education is at Ballyhaunis Community School, with over 550 pupils on roll with an anticipated increase of 180 pupils over the next seven years.
There are several Roman Catholic churches in the area, the largest of which is St Patrick's Church on Upper Main St, which was dedicated to St. Patrick by Archbishop Healy of Tuam on October 10th 1909. The the stained glass windows in the church were made by Joshua Clarke, the father of Harry Clarke whose stained glass windows became world famous.
The Church of Ireland Parish Church is in nearby Ballinlough. Ballyhaunis is also home to the first purpose-built Mosque in Ireland, which is the most westerly mosque in Europe.
Other buildings of interest in Ballyhaunis include St. Mary's Augustinian Friary (see history) and the Convent of Mercy. (photograph: Convent of Mercy)
Anyone settling in the town will find that Ballyhaunis has many community facilities, recreations and sports to occupy their spare time.
There is a network of country lanes around Ballyhaunis for the walking/cycling enthusiast, which lead into areas of great environmental importance. See and appreciate the wonderful flora and fauna of our rich countryside as you stroll along the roads past rolling green fields to the bog roads where birds can be seen in their natural habitat. Within easy reach of Ballyhaunis the Annagh/Mannin valley, Knockbrack, Leow and Scrigg are prime examples of this type of area. (photograph: Friary Walk)
Ballyhaunis is a friendly welcoming town with people who will take the time to stop and talk to you and make you feel welcome. There is fine accommodation to be found locally in Bed/Breakfasts, Guest Houses and self catering (rental) houses. Good wholesome cuisine is always available and varied entertainment from traditional Irish music and dance to cabaret and disco can be found in the town.
Bernie Prendergast has produced the cartoons you find scattered round this website but her speciality is in Charcoal Portraits.
Occasionally she also works in pencil, pen and wash so if you like Bernie's cartoons.
Bernie is living in Tooreen a few miles from Ballyhaunis.