Public representatives and local election candidates in Ballina have been challenged to counter the blow of the postponement of the 2019 Ballina Salmon Festival by planning and running their own summer events campaign.
The north Mayo capital was left reeling on Friday last when the directors of Ballina Salmon Festival announced, via the event’s Facebook page, that the week-long festival would not be going ahead this July. They stated that the festival had endured a difficult period since it concluded in July 2018 and that this, together with increased insurance and general costs, had resulted in the decision not to proceed this year. Stressing that the postponement had not been decided on lightly, the directors said it will allow for more effective planning for 2020 when, they are confident, a new, invigorated and fresh event can be delivered.
Originally launched in Ballina in 1964, Ballina Salmon Festival has run every year since with the exception of a brief hiatus in the 1980s. It is regarded as one of the largest community-based festivals in Ireland and is said to generate hundreds of thousands of euro for the local economy every July. But the festival has struggled a lot in recent years and only narrowly avoided cancellation in 2017 when the annual general meeting was reconvened a number of times due to poor turnout. It needed the intervention of Moy Valley Resources and, in particular, its chief executive Billy Lewis to rescue the festival.
Local man, Terry McCole, has now challenged election candidates to fill the void of the postponed 2019 Salmon Festival with a summer events programme. Mr McCole is the retired principal of Moyne College and is a former chairperson of Ballina Urban District Council. He is also a past event organiser for the Ballina Salmon Festival and believes public representatives must step into the breach in the wake of the festival postponement.
“This is your opportunity to prove that you do love your area and want Ballina promoted at every possible opportunity,” Mr McCole said in an online post.
Describing the Salmon Festival’s struggles as yet another symptom of a 40-year old national strategy that is biased in favour of ‘The Pale’, he concluded: “I, like many others, will support anyone willing to run summer events in lieu of the festival this year. The time for talking is over. Now it’s time to act so don’t just talk about it, do it.”