New book tells stories of Ballina and its people

Ballina writer and local historian, Terry Reilly, has launched his new book, Ballina & Area People, which he describes as ‘easy to read’ complete with some surprising revelations.

He explores the lives of many from the area, stating: "Some emigrated. Others stayed at home. All made their mark in one way or another. They are all examples of people who, in the toughest of times, not only survived and excelled, but can be held up as inspirational figures."

He documents the rise of US President Joe Biden from his Ballina roots to become the most powerful man in the world, 'confronted by many challenges at home and abroad', saying: "Biden has promised to return to Mayo and to Ballina: he’s the real deal son of a Ballina man in the White House: he never hides his love for Ireland."

In another chapter, Reilly draws attention to Killian-born Sarah McElroy, wife of Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered Penicillin, and her supporting role in helping him pursue his objective, saying: "By selling her successful nursing home, she provided him with the wherewithal to continue his research."

He researches some of the great work done by missionaries from the area who established churches, schools, hospitals, amenities, running water, and recalls his meetings with the great Rosary Priest, Fr Patrick Peyton.

Reilly adds: "Mary Robinson, first female President of Ireland, gets honourable mention as her library in Ballina nears completion. Another Ballina person who made it big in politics in Canada was Edward Whelan, one of the Fathers of the Canadian Federation, a quite extraordinary man on many fronts."

And if it’s the world of music and showbiz you are after, Reilly points to composer William Vincent Wallace and his sister Eliza, rock stars of the 19th century across the world, Leslie Stuart, another famous musical figure in the UK whose real name was Thomas Barrett, and Richard M Hooley, a leading theatrical entrepreneur in the US, plus Ballina actors Jack Cunningham and Paddy Stephens, stars of stage and screen.

Signed copies of this limited hardcover edition are available online from the author at, (click on Bookstore ) and

Retail outlets include Easons, and Ernie Caffrey, Garden Street, Ballina, Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina Tourist Office, Mayo Books, Castle Street, Castebar, etc. For further details email [email protected] Price €20.


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