Ballycastle, County Antrim
Bellykessel or Bellycaissle
|Irish: Baile an Chaistil|
Ballycastle shown within Northern Ireland
|Population||5,089 (2001 Census)|
|Irish grid reference|
|- Belfast||55 miles (89 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
|UK Parliament||North Antrim|
|NI Assembly||North Antrim|
Ballycastle (from Irish: Baile an Chaistil, meaning "town of the castle") is a small town in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Its population was 5,089 people in the 2001 Census. It is the seat and main settlement of Moyle District Council.
The town has a beach, and views across to Rathlin Island and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. The town is at the northern mainland limit of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Ballycastle is also famous for its Lammas Fair, which is held every year on the last Monday and Tuesday of August. Ballycastle is the home of the Corrymeela Community. The town forms part of the North Antrim constituency and the elected MP is Ian Paisley Jr.
Ballycastle is classified as a small town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. On 29 April 2001 (the date of the last census) there were 5,089 people living in Ballycastle.
- 25.3% were aged under 16 years and 18.7% were aged 60 and over
- 46.8% of the population were male and 53.2% were female
- 77.7% were from a Catholic background and 20.5% were from a Protestant background.
- 6.5% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.
Places of interest
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2010)|
- Fair Head is Ballycastle's most outstanding landmark rising 196 metres (643 ft) out of the bay. Goats can be seen roaming among the rocks beneath the clifftops, where a walkway called 'The Gray Man's Path' winds around the rugged coastline. From the road, a manmade Iron Age island or crannog can be seen in the middle of a large lake.
- Knocklayde, a massive heather covered mountain (1695 ft) crowned by Carn na Truagh (the cairn of sorrow), which gives extensive views over Ballycastle, Rathlin Island, Fair Head and Scotland.
- Glentaisie, the most northerly of the Nine Glens of Antrim, lies at the foot of Knocklayde mountain. It was named after the Princess Taisie, the daughter of King Dorm of Rathlin Island. According to legend, Taisie, renowned for her great beauty, was betrothed to Congal, heir to the Kingdom of Ireland. The king of Norway also sought her hand in marriage, and when he arrived to claim his bride, her wedding celebrations to Congal were underway. The King of Norway and his army tried to capture Taisie but in the subsequent battle he was killed and his army fled leaderless and empty handed.
- Carey, Glenshesk & Tow Rivers flow down from the glens then eventually join together into one river. This is known as the Margy River which flows into the Moyle Sea at the start of The Strand...
- The Strand (Ballycastle Beach), which has a European Blue Flag.
- Pans Rocks, which are the remains of an iron salt pan, lying at the far end of Ballycastle Beach which jut out to the sea and are a popular location for fishing.
- The Devils Churn lying just beyond Pans Rocks, which has steps carved into the stone leading to an under water tunnel.
- Clare Park on Clare Road, was an estate owned by the then local landed gentry, the McGildownys. The 17th Century house has been pulled down but it was set in a site high-up on the Antrim coast.
- A popular cycling route runs from Ballycastle to Cushendun, by way of Torr Head, offering spectacular views and scenery. From the road above Torr Head, the whole of Moyle (the North Channel) can be seen. A popular spot for inshore sea fishing, Torr Head also boasts a coastguard station, which is notable in that it was built on and out of the remains of Dunvarragh, the fort of Barach.
- The Corrymeela Community (a Christian organisation promoting peace and reconciliation, founded in 1965) is based at Corrymeela, just outside Ballycastle.
Buildings of note
- Holy Trinity, Church of Ireland, is situated in the Diamond, i.e., the main square. Like the rest of the Diamond, the church is grade 'A' listed. The church was completed in 1756, being built by Colonel Hugh Boyd, who bore the total cost. It was built in Graeco-Italian style with an apse-shaped chancel and an octagonal spire about 100 feet high. It was effectively a chapel for the Boyd family & estate for many years - the remains of many Boyd descendants are in the vaults below - although it was always subject to Episcopal jurisdiction. It was given to the Church of Ireland in about 1950. This church is open every day from 9am-5pm.
- Bonamargy Friary is off the Cushendall Road on the approach to Ballycastle and is a late Franciscan foundation established in 1485 by Rory MacQuillan. Locked vaults hold the remains of the celebrated chieftain, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and several of the earls of Antrim. The Friary's most famous resident is the 17th century prophet and recluse Julia MacQuillan. Known as "The Black Nun", she wished to be buried at the entrance of the chapel so that she might be trodden under the feet of those who entered. A round holed cross marks her grave.
- Kinbane Castle is situated on a headland projecting into the sea, about 3 miles (5 km) from Ballycastle on the road to Ballintoy. Originally a two story building, it was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell, who died within its walls in 1558.
- There are several churches in Ballycastle. Ballycastle's Presbyterian Church (in Castle Street) has a distinctive round tower.
- Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien, the Cardinal Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, Primate of Scotland; member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and also a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, was born here 17 March 1938. O'Brien apologised and resigned as archbishop in 2013 after accusations of homosexual misconduct dated from the 1980s.
- John Samuel Bewley Monsell, 1811-1875, was Rector of Ramoan church from 1847 to 1853; he was responsible for the building of the parish church of St James in 1848, which replaced an earlier church dedicated to St Ereclacius nearby, and was a prolific hymnwriter.
- Sir Roger Casement, 1864–1916, was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary and nationalist spent part of his youth in Magherintemple House, in Carey.
- Irish folk-singer and musician David McWilliams lived in Ballycastle for many years before his death in 2002.
- Overlooking the harbour there is a monument to Guglielmo Marconi whose employees made the world's first commercial wireless telegraph transmission between Ballycastle and the East Lighthouse on Rathlin Island.
- Bishop Michael Dallat, (1925–2000), the former Titular Bishop of Thala, former Auxiliary Bishop of The Diocese of Down and Connor and former Principal of St. Mary's University College, Belfast, was born and raised in Ballycastle.
- Bishop Donal Lamont, 1911–2003, Emeritus Bishop of Mutare, Zimbabwe was born in Ballycastle. He was a leading figure opposing the Rhodesian government. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.
- Author C. S. Lewis holidayed in Ballycastle for many years during the time of his writing the Chronicles of Narnia series.
- Conleth Hill, notable actor, was born in Ballycastle in 1964.
- Michelle Fairley, actress, was raised in Ballycastle.
Bus services in Ballycastle are operated by Translink.
A ferry currently operated by the Rathlin Island Ferry Company runs between the town and Rathlin Island, as part of a lifeline service. The ferry service to the island was formerly operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. Ferries formerly sailed between Ballycastle and Campbeltown in Scotland, but the service was suspended in June 2002. A passenger ferry service to Campbeltown now runs Friday to Monday during summer months and on Mondays & Fridays during winter months, and is operated by Kintyre Express.
Ballycastle railway station opened on 18 October 1880, but was closed on 3 July 1950. It was on the Ballycastle Railway, a narrow gauge railway which ran 17 miles connecting Ballycastle to Ballymoney station, on the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway (BNCR), later Northern Counties Committee (NCC) and now part of Northern Ireland Railways.
The Troubles in Ballycastle
- early 1970s - Loyalist car bomb left outside Catholic church in the town, timed to explode as massgoers left the church, detonated early thereby avoiding large-scale loss of life.
- 1979, 3 August - William Whitten (65), a Protestant bystander died six weeks after being injured in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attack on Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, County Antrim.
- 1991, 6 April - Spence McGarry (46), a Protestant off duty member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was killed in a Provisional Irish Republican Army booby trap bomb attached to his car, Castle Street, Ballycastle.
- 2001 - An attempt at mass murder by the Ulster Volunteer Force when a car bomb was left in Castle Street during the annual Lammas Fair.
In the past, there has been unrest regarding Orange Order parades in the town. In 2001, there was serious public disorder at 12 July Orange Order parade. As a result of this the Silver Plains flute band from nearby Moyarget were banned from marching in the town due to allegations of sectarian conduct and paramilitary trappings. The North Antrim Orange Order held their annual parade in the town in 2006. Following discussions between residents, the Orange Order, business owners and Sinn Féin the parade passed off without incident.
As with the rest of the British Isles, Ballycastle experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest official Met Office weather station for which online records are available is at Ballypatrick Forest, about 4 miles East South East of Ballypatrick.
|Climate data for Ballypatrick Forest 155m asl 1971-2000, Sunshine 1971-1990, Rainfall 1989-2000 (Weather station 4 miles (6 km) ESE of Ballycastle)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.5
|Average low °C (°F)||1.5
|Precipitation mm (inches)||119.16
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||42.2||67.0||92.8||158.5||194.7||166.0||145.4||138.5||109.2||86.0||54.4||31.1||1,285.8|
- Sports including tennis, bowling (Mary Street), hurling, gaelic football (Whitehall/Leyland Road), and recurrently skateboarding are all local interests.
- The McQuillans GAA club has won 17 Antrim Senior Hurling Championships, the second most of any club. The club has won 6 Ulster Senior Club Hurling Championships and were the beaten finalists in the 1980 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final.
- Ballycastle Golf Club offers a full 18 hole, part links, part parkland, championship course open to both members and non-members all year round. It is one of the four courses played each June in the world renowned Causeway Coast Golf Tournament.
- During the Summer the town hosts two tennis tournaments. One run by Moyle.
- Ballycastle United Football Club combined with Moyle FC in 2011 the team now competes in the Coleraine and District morning league.
- Ballycastle Bowling Club (outdoors) is based at the sea-front.
- North-South Ministerial Council: 2002 Annual Report in Ulster Scots
- Bonamargy Friary guide – Department of the Environment
- Guide to Dunluce Castle in Ulster-Scots DOE.
- Placenames Database of Ireland
- Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency website
- Ballycastle Presbyterian Church
- Robert Pigott (3 March 2013). "Cardinal Keith O'Brien sorry for sexual misconduct". BBC. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- "UVF tried to bomb Oul' Lammas Fair, court is told". Europe Intelligence Wire. 19 February 2004.
- The Guardian
- "Station Locations". MetOffice.
- "Ballypatrick Long Term Data". Met Office. Retrieved 21 sep 2011.
- Moyle Council
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ballycastle, County Antrim.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ballycastle.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Ballycastle.|
- Four Swans Festival
- Ballycastletown Local website about Ballycastle Town and The Nine Glens of Antrim.
- Ballycastle, County Antrim Article on the history of Ballycastle, by Hugh A. Boyd.
- The Northern Ireland Guide More tales and information on The Black Nun, Fairhead and Ballycastle.
- McQuillans GAC
- lammasfair.com An irreverent look at Ballycastle and the Ould Lammas Fair.