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50,000 attended Ballina Salmon Festival says mayor

50,000 attend Ballina Salmon Festival

Anton McNulty

A SPECTACULAR fireworks display on Saturday night was the highlight of the 2012 Ballina Salmon Festival. The week-long event attracted close to 50,000 visitors to the north Mayo capital, according to the town’s mayor, who believes around 20,000 attended the fireworks.
The weather gods looked favourably on Ballina over the weekend, with a break in the rain allowing people to get out and about and enjoy the finale of the week-long Salmon Festival.
Ballina also hosted the All-Ireland Pipe Championship and the Ballina Bridge Congress last week. The annual congress was attended by over 300 bridge players from countries as far away as Norway, Canada and Turkey.
The newly-elected Meara of Ballina, Cllr Willie Nolan, described the week’s events and festivities as an outstanding success that passed off without incident. He said the Salmon Festival showcased what Ballina has to offer, and he hopes it will continue to drive Ballina forward as a tourism destination.
“The festival was an outstanding success, with Heritage Day attracting record crowds,” he said, adding that the fireworks display was ‘one of finest I have seen in years’.
“As a newly elected Meara, I was very busy with all the events but it was a great success and we were pleased with the weather over the weekend … We had a number of overseas visitors, including members of the twinning committees from our twin cities of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The hotels in the town were full for the festival, giving a huge economic boost to the shops and businesses in the centre of town,” he said.
Ballina is considered the salmon capital of Ireland, and according to Cllr Nolan, the salmon industry brings in €10 million annually to the town. He said that tourism was a hugely important to Ballina and that he would be pushing the town council to hire a marketing agency to market the town, because he feels it needs more exposure to attract more visitors.

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