Ballyhaunis, a town rich in history, has been shaped by its past and the influential figures who played pivotal roles in its development. From the Norman era, the Costello family held sway over Ballyhaunis. It was Jordan Dubh Mac Costello who, in 1384, established the Augustinian Friary. This friary wasn't just a religious hub; it was also a school, a hospital, and a model farm. Despite facing destruction in 1608 and challenges during the Cromwellian and Penal times, the friary was restored in 1641 and stood resilient. The Augustinian Friars, who were the heart and soul of this establishment, continued their spiritual services until 2002.
By 1848, Ballyhaunis had evolved into a quaint market town, equipped with essential amenities like a police station and a dispensary. The introduction of the railway further propelled its growth, and by 1892, the town was bustling with a population of 911. The mid-20th century saw Ballyhaunis as a primary market town, catering to the agricultural community. However, the subsequent decades, especially post-1971, witnessed an industrial surge, positioning Ballyhaunis as a hub for major industries.
Diving deeper into its history, the very essence of Ballyhaunis is intertwined with the Augustinian settlement of St. Mary’s Abbey. Founded in the 14th Century, around 1348, this abbey has been instrumental in the town's progression and the well-being of its residents. The Augustinians, after centuries of unwavering presence, decided to withdraw from Ballyhaunis in 2001. This decision led them to seek community input regarding the future of the Friary house, St. Mary’s Abbey, and its adjoining lands.