Dillon House on Market Square in the town was the ancestral home of the Dillon family, some of whom were major figures in Irish political life. John Blake Dillon was one of the founders of The Nation, a newspaper which sought to teach the Irish about their country in an unbiased way, contrary to other newspapers of the day which all held a firm British bias. He became a member of the Young Irelanders and, following the devastation he saw during the Irish potato famine, he took part in a failed uprising which saw him charged with high treason as a result. Dillon fled to the United States dressed as a priest and returned years later under an amnesty, becoming an MP for Tipperary. Two other members of the Dillon family later held prominent roles in parliament. John Dillon was an MP for Tipperary and East Mayo, later becoming leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and James Dillon went on to become Minister of Agriculture and leader of Fine Gael.
The Dillon Family were vocal about halting the decline of Irish towns and it is perhaps fitting the first meeting of the Irish cabinet outside Dublin was in Dillion House in 2000. Ballaghaderreen, like many small, rural towns in Ireland, and particularly in the West, saw years of decline in the second half of the 20th century.
The swimming pool in Ballaghaderreen echos that decline in many ways. Built initially as a reservoir to provide fresh water for the town, it became obsolete as much larger, regional reservoirs were constructed. The local council decided to make use of the site as a municipal swimming facility and it remained in use as such until the late 1980s when it was closed over safety concerns.
It is interesting to note that outdoor swimming pools are not commonplace in Ireland. Some did exist but, like the one in Ballaghaderreen, safety issues and insurance costs meant they were unsustainable and they were closed. Efforts have been made to reopen some, with The Baths in Clontarf being a notable example of success following 22 years of closure. Sadly, there are no such plans for Ballaghaderreen Swimming Pool and it is likely to remain abandoned for the foreseeable future.