According to P.W. Joyce the name arises from "Baile Breacain" [sic] which literally means "Brecan's Town". Brecan is a common medieval first name and there are several other Brackenstowns in Ireland. There is also a possible link to the Bracken River. In this case the name could derive from breicín "little trout". Many locals however have traditionally felt that Baile Brigín means "Town of the Little Hills", due to the relatively low hills that surround the town.This translation is not well founded as it appears to be derived from a phonetic deconstruction of a suggested spelling (3/9) It seems more likely that the town’s name is derived from the word Brecan, as the area was known in pre- Norse invasion times as Breaga, populated by a tribe or clan known as the Bregii and the aforementioned river Bracken
An 18th century traveler described Balbriggan as " ..a small village situated in a small glin where the sea forms a little harbor - it is reckoned safe and is sheltered by a good pier. The village is resorted to in Summer time by several genteel people for the benefit of bathing."
The village, which is situated on the eastern coast and on the road from Dublin to the north of Ireland, owes its rise, from a small fishing village to a place of manufacturing and commercial importance, to the late Baron Hamilton, who, in 1780, introduced cotton manufacture, for which he erected factories, and who may be regarded as its founder.
It was also the location of the 19th-century Smith's Stocking Mill, which made stockings as well as men's "Long-Johns" called Balbriggans. Balbriggans are often mentioned in John Wayne movies.
Balbriggan is currently experiencing a building boom as a result of the demand for housing within the wider Dublin region. The population has exploded in recent years, due to new developments on the northwest of the Town. Most residents in these new estates have had no previous connection with the Town, and there are many from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately the infrastructure and services have not been put in place to cope with this new population, and there is strain on schools, public transport and other services.
Sixteen per cent of the town's population is non-ethnic Irish, six per cent being of African origin.
Over the Easter 2008 weekend precast engineering company Techrete relocated their production facility from Howth to Stephenstown Industrial Park with their head office set to follow suit in Autumn.
It is expected that the proposed Bremore Port and orbital motorway projects as well as the existing M1 motorway and Belfast - Dublin railway are major draws to prospective companies with large logistical sectors hoping to expand or set up in the Fingal area.
Balbriggan Town Hall, serving as the home to Balbriggan Town Council.
O'Dwyers GAA is the local Gaelic Athletic Association club. It was founded in 1918 and currently fields juvenile hurling and football teams from U-7 to U-18. There is three adult male football teams that play in AFL4, AFL9 and AFL12, a female adult team that play in Ladies AFL3, a Junior 1 Hurling team and a Camogie team.
Balbriggan has four soccer clubs.
Formerly known as Clonard Celtic (founded 1982), this club amalgamated with another club in the town, Balscadden Blues, in the 1990s. Balbriggan F.C. now fields numerous under age teams from under 8's right up to under 18's. The 3 senior teams currently play in the Leinster Senior League and work has now been completed on their new clubhouse located in Bremore, Balbriggan.
GlebeNorth Fc Established in 1945, this club is the most successful in the town. Several past players have received international honours; both Anthony Guildea and Michael Reid were capped for Ireland at junior level. Market Green, the club's ground opened a new clubhouse on 31 May 1998The club has 2 Senior teams playing in the Leinster Senior League and 12 schoolboy/girl teams playing in the NDSL League's The main pitch and clubhouse are located at market green, the club also has a fully floodlight all weather pitch.
Established in late 1999, this club is the newest and probably the smallest in the town. Players hail from Balbriggan, Stamullen, Naul, Drogheda, Skerries, Rush, Lusk and Swords. Currently it consists of a women's (since 2002) and a men's senior team only. The Ringcommons Sports Centre is the club's homeground.
The club use the [Ring Commons] sports facilities. These include two soccer pitches & floodlit training areas, an 18 hole Pitch and Putt course, a Rugby pitch and plans are underway to open a further number of full size soccer pitches. The clubhouse includes a large meeting hall, as well as offices, kitchen, changing rooms, toilets, showers and of course a fully licenced bar.
Balbriggan Rugby Club was originally founded in 1925. They currently field two adult teams who play in the Leinster League, Div.3 and Leinster North East Area League (Mc Gee Cup). They also field several underage teams from U7's through to U18's and U20's. The Club started the 2007/2008 Season playing at the new Club Grounds Balrothery, Co. Dublin nextdoor to North County Cricket Club. The Club plan further major development which will see the building of a clubhouse, swimming pool, gyms and training areas. It is hoped these new facilities will be on stream for the start of 08/09 Season.
The Circket Clubs home ground is in the 'Town Park', beside the Catholic Church
Balbriggan Golf Club is an 18 hole parkland golf course situated in north County Dublin only minutes from Dublin Airport.
Located about 20 miles north of Dublin city, the course is easily accessible being just off the M1. Follow the sign to Balbriggan and we are on the right hand side as you approach the town from the South.To arrange a tee time please contact Nigel Howley our Club Professional.
Established in 1945, and after many phases of development, the course presents a challenge to all who play it.
Medieval battle According to Ware, a Medieval Annalist, a battle took place there on Whitsun-eve, 1329, between John de Bermingham, Earl of Louth, (who bad been elevated to the 'palatine dignity' of the county), Richard, Lord of Malahide, and several of their kinsmen, against local rival families, the Verduns, Gernons, and Savages, who were opposed to the elevation of the earl; and in which the former, with 60 of their English followers, were killed.
William III camped here after the Battle of the Boyne,in July, 1690.
Sack of Balbriggan
The assault on the village's population by the British Black and Tans based in the nearby Gormanstown military barracks on 9 September 1920 was one of the more infamous acts of the Irish War of Independence. This event, known as the "Sack of Balbriggan", resulted in the destruction of 54 houses, a hoisery factory and the looting of four public houses. The attack received much international attention due to Balbriggan's position close to foreign news correspondents in Dublin. A subsequent delegation from the United States pledged to rebuild thirty homes in the village and a local factory. Other deaths followed during the war, most noticeably those of Seán Lawless and Séamas Gibbons who were bayoneted to death by the British forces on 20 September 1920. A plaque on Bridge Street in the town commemorates their murder.
Lewis's Topographical Directory of Ireland, 1837, refers to Balbriggan as a "sea-port, market, and post-village, and a chapelry, in the parish and barony of Balrothery, county of Dublin, and province of Leinster, 15 miles (N. by E.) from Dublin; containing 3016 inhabitants".
It goes on, "The inhabitants are partly employed in the fishery, but principally in the manufacture of cotton; there are two large factories, the machinery of which is worked by steam-engines and water-wheels of the aggregate power of 84 horses, giving motion to 7500 spindles, and spinning upon the average about 7400 lb. of cotton yarn per week. More than 300 persons are employed in these factories, to which are attached blue dye-works ; and in the village and neighborhood are 942 hand-looms employed in the weaving department. The principal articles made at present are checks, jeans, calicoes, and fustians. The village is also celebrated for the manufacture of the finest cotton stockings, which has been carried on successfully since its first establishment about 40 years since; there are 60 frames employed in this trade, and the average produce is about 60 dozen per week. There are on the quay a large corn store belonging to Messrs. Frost & Co., of Chester, and some extensive salt-works; and in the village is a tanyard.
The fishery, since the withdrawing of the bounty, has very much diminished: there are at present only 10 wherries or small fishing boats belonging to the port. The village carries on a tolerably brisk coasting trade: in 1833, 134 coal vessels, of the aggregate burden of 11,566 tons, and 29 coasting vessels of 1795 tons, entered inwards, and 17 coasters of 1034 tons cleared outwards, from and to ports in Great Britain. The harbor is rendered safe for vessels of 150 tons' burden by an excellent pier, completed in 1763, principally by Baron Hamilton, aided by a parliamentary grant, and is a place of refuge for vessels of that burden at 3/4 tide. A jetty or pier, 420 feet long from the N. W. part of the harbor, with a curve of 105 feet in a western direction, forming an inner harbor in which at high tide is 14 feet of water, and affording complete shelter from all winds, was commenced in 1826 and completed in 1829, at an expense of £2912 - 7s - 9d, of which the late Fishery Board gave £1569, the Marquess of Lansdowne £100, and the remainder was subscribed by the late Rev. Geo. Hamilton, proprietor of the village. At the end of the old pier there is a lighthouse."
The Drogheda or Grand Northern Trunk railway from Dublin, for which an act has been obtained, is intended to pass along the shore close to the village and to the east of the church. The market is on Monday, and is abundantly supplied with corn, of which great quantities are sent to Dublin and to Liverpool; and there is a market for provisions on Saturday. Fairs are held on the 29th of April and September, chiefly for cattle. A market-house was erected in 1811, partly by subscription and partly at the expense of the Hamilton family. The village is the head-quarters of the constabulary police force of the county; and near it is a martello tower with a coast guard station, which is one of the nine stations within the district of Swords. Petty sessions for the north-east division of the county are held here every alternate Tuesday.
The chapelry of St. George, Balbriggan, was founded by the late Rev. G. Hamilton, of Hampton Hall, who in 1813 granted some land and settled an endowment, under the 11th and 12th of Geo. III., for the establishment of a perpetual curacy; and an augmentation of £25 per annum has been recently granted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from Primate Boulter's fund. In 1816 a chapel was completed, at an expense of £3018 - 2s - 2d, of which £1400 was given by the late Board of First Fruits, £478- 15s - 2d., was raised by voluntary subscriptions of the inhabitants, and £1139-7s., was given by the founder and his family. This chapel, which was a handsome edifice with a square embattled tower, and contained monuments to the memory of R. Hamilton, Esq., and the Rev. G. Hamilton, was burned by accident in 1835, and the congregation assemble for divine service in a school-room until it shall be restored, for which purpose the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £480. The living is in the patronage of G. A. Hamilton, Esq.