It is thought that the town grew up around St Mary's Augustinian Friary, founded in 1348. The town and the surrounding hinterland is steeped in history and contains one of the highest concentrations of megalithic monuments in the West of Ireland.
The population of Ballyhaunis today is about 2,000. The town is a mixed community where farming, private business and industry are the main sources of employment.
Over the years, Ballyhaunis has become a cosmopolitan area. Even prior to Ireland's recent period of economic growth, there were children of at least seven nationalities attending schools in the town. These included Pakistani, Syrian, Russian, English, Polish and Lithuanian. In recent times more nationalities have been attracted to Ballyhaunis, with immigrants from several countries in Africa and Eastern Europe now settled in the area. This is illustrated by the fact that, as well as two Catholic churches, the town is also home to Ireland's only purpose built mosque outside Dublin, which is the most westerly mosque in Europe. The results of the 2006 census showed that some 36% of Ballyhaunis residents are non-Irish.
Entrepreneur returns to help Mayo's Muslims ; Former United Meat Packers boss Sher Mohammed Rafique brought the first Muslims to Ballyhaunis 30 years ago, writes Tom Shiel
Jul 23, 2004; A baby boom among the Muslim population in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, where up to 30 infants are being born every year, has led...