The Ballina Bench Trail is an ideal opportunity to be a tourist in your home town and re-acquaint yourself with 10 various landmarks which add to the charm and history of Ballina.
Ramble entirely at your own pace and savour the atmosphere each stop has to offer without ever straying too far from the town centre. Take time out for yourself or round up the family and let us guide you on a “stop and stroll” trip around Ballina. Scroll down for map at the bottom.
Thanks to Trisha Browne for putting this great trail together!
Bench Trail Stop 1: Cathedral Road
Stroll along this picturesque tree lined avenue on the banks of the River Moy. Sit and simply enjoy the magnificence of St. Muredachs Cathedral which dates back to 1834. Imagine the consignments of marble that made their way by sea from Rome to the Quay and now adorn the Altar inside. * Did you know that Ardnaree was the historical original settlement at Ballina and the Augustinian Abbey was founded in the 1400s by the local Chieftain O’Dowd.*
From here, follow the river against the flow to Ridgepool Road
Bench Trail Stop 2: The Ridge Pool
Rest awhile at several vantage points along the Ballina Bench Trail and watch keen anglers, coax and lure the unsuspecting salmon onto their waiting hook on this world famous Ridge Pool. Listen to the sheer force of the water as it gushes through the salmon boxes.
Sit on the spectacular Salmon Weir Bridge and cast a glance up at St Michael’s Church which dates back to 1763. Did you know that the church includes a rare stained-glass window of Charity and Wisdom, which was designed by the cartoonist George Parlby in 1899 and the diamond pane windows still boast the original hand-blown glass!
From here, cross the bridge, and take a left to wander up what the locals call Canalside.
Bench Trail Stop 3: Canalside Park
Safely across the river, and you’ve arrived at a perfect location to stop a while and reflect on the memory of several locals. Why not pop down to the Ballina Arts Centre for a take-out coffee to enjoy while the kids burn off some extra energy at the nearby park.
From this point on the Ballina Bench trail you can take the Canalside walk upriver, detour back to Ham Bridge or continue to bench 4. Did you know the Salmon Weir Bridge is designed to resemble a fishing rod, and is the backdrop to the annual St Patrick’s Day firework display?
From here, come back to the road, pass Coyne’s Tyres on your right and head for Kevin Barry Street, where you’ll emerge across from the bus station.
Bench Trail Stop 4: The Font
A small trek on to the next stop at the Font, or to call it by its correct name, the Vaughan Jackson Memorial Fountain. Imagine you have just jumped off a bus or train and this is one of your first glimpses of Ballina. Up ahead is a quaint garden like oasis with a couple of benches. As you rest here, think of the many horses that drank from this trough as they pulled carts of local wares to and from what was then a thriving market town.
Just behind you – imagine the buzz when the 715 seated Estoria Cinema opened just metres way (now Ballina Men’s Shed) in 1931 and also staged local theatrical shows. Did you know that there are lower drinking troughs for both horses and dogs on this monument, which was erected at a cost of €184, funded by public donations?
From here, continue past Ballina Men’s Shed and the beautiful mural of Fliadhais, continue down Pound Street towards Killala Road.
Bench Trail Stop 5: Marian Shrine
The Ballina Bench trail visits suburbia as you continue through the junction towards Marian Crescent and the Stream of the Shoes. Shaded by mature Oak & Sycamore trees is a shrine to Our Lady.
A babbling brook within an earshot this peaceful haven soothes the soul.
Did you know the Srutha na mBrog (Stream of the shoes) rises in Knockegan and runs underground – but only since the development of Dunnes Stores in the 80’s from Marian Crescent to the River Moy!
Continue down Killala Road from here.
Bench Trail Stop 6: Green Park War Memorial
Continue down the Killala Road, past St. Patrick’s Well to this pleasant restful retreat -Green Park. Flanked by Srutha na mBróg (Stream of the Shoes) this is a perfect setting to remember and honour our local war heroes.
In 2015 Ballina Comrades of the Great War, after a significant amount of detailed research unveiled this monument in memory of 182 local men who served with the British Army during World War 1. Did you know that out of a population of 4,000, Ballina recruited 600 volunteers to the Connaught Rangers. The recruitment slogan was “Better die like men on the battlefields than live like slaves”.
From here, take a right turn up the hill through Bohernasup, and follow the road around to Humbert Street.
Bench Trail Stop 7: The Humbert Monument
Marching up the leafy suburbs of Kilmoremoy and veering right where the Old French Road meets Bothar -Na- Sup, the Ballina Bench Trail follows the very same trail traversed by General Humbert and his forces in 1798. M
aud Gonne – an English born Irish revolutionary and suffragette laid the foundation stone in 1898 for the magnificent “Humbert’s Monument” as a tribute to the principals of the heroic French and Irish men of 98 expressing her hope that in time “Mother Eire” would look down on a free Ireland. As you sit here – you can imagine the French army advancing silently down the hill – silently because they locals laid straw on the road to deaden the sound of the horse hooves.
Did you know that Maud Gonne was also an accomplished actress and that the Monument was moved in 1987 from its original setting on the busy junction of Lower Pearse Street / Humbert Street!
From here, it’s back into the heart of town – head towards the roundabout past Dunne’s Stores and take a right.
Bench Trail Stop 8: Lower Pearse Street
This lovely grove is tucked discreetly beneath the foliage and offers a perfect time out zone at this busy intersection. Humbert’s Monument stood right in the centre of this junction and was moved due to increasing volumes of traffic when Dunnes Stores opened in the mid 80’s. This spot on the Ballina Bench Trail has been transformed into a magical floral wonderland and is the starting point for the atmospheric Christmas lighting campaign.
Did you know that the Moy Club – on the corner of Dillon Terrace and Castle Road has a full size billiards table and was a traditional “men only” working man’s club until the early 90’s?
Bench Trail Stop 9: Ballina Library
Continue up Pearse Street –predominately the business area of Ballina. This main street oozes a real “boulevard” atmosphere with outdoor cafeéseating, occasional busking and an array of public benches that encourage people to linger and chat. Why not stop off at the Library – a vantage spot that shows Ballina town centre at its best? The area is well serviced with car parks accessed via recently developed laneways.
The Library itself offers a host of free services including the loan of musical instruments and use of computers and there is no charge for membership. It also houses a local history research section.
Did you know that the library is a preserved building and was originally the Moy Hotel, and subsequently the mess hall for the military officers who were stationed at the military barracks to the back of the buildings opposite!
From here, head toward the Post Office, take a left down the laneway at the Loft Bar.
Bench Trail Stop 10: Pawn Office Lane/Mary Robinson Centre
When you stroll down PAwn Office Lane, past the beautiful mural on your right, when you reach the final stop on this Ballina Bench Trail you’ll encounter the childhood home of President Mary Robinson. Mary was born in 1944 and enjoyed an extensive education which started in Ardnaree at Ms Ruddy’s private school. She was Ireland’s first President, elected in 1990, and the memory of her homecoming is still strong among Ballina people.
Mary fondly remembers visiting her grandparents at their home on Church Road, “Amana ”which was originally the family home of the Ham Family – who built the upper bridge. Did you know that Mary Robinson was the first ever Irish Head of State to Visit the British Monarchy at Buckingham Palace?
Work is now underway to create the first Presidential Library here in Ballina in Mary’s childhood home – the Mary Robinson Centre.
We hope you’re enjoyed your stroll around Ballina, and maybe you’ve learned something new on your travels! Be sure to share with a friend, and leave us a comment on Facebook if you liked this.
*# offers a short cut.