Ballycastle, County Antrim

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This article is about Ballycastle, County Antrim. For the village in County Mayo, see Ballycastle, County Mayo.

Coordinates: 55°12′18″N 6°15′29″W / 55.205°N 6.258°W / 55.205; -6.258

Ballycastle
Scots: Ballykessel,[1]
Bellykessel[2] or Bellycaissle[3]
Irish: Baile an Chaistil
Ballycastle Harbour - geograph.org.uk - 468327.jpg
Ballycastle harbour
Ballycastle is located in Northern Ireland
Ballycastle
Ballycastle
 Ballycastle shown within Northern Ireland
Population 5,089 (2001 Census)
Irish grid reference D115407
    - Belfast  55 miles (89 km) 
District Moyle
County County Antrim
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BALLYCASTLE
Postcode district BT54
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament North Antrim
NI Assembly North Antrim
Website www.northantrim.com
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Antrim
View from the Rathlin boat

Ballycastle (from Irish: Baile an Chaistil, meaning "town of the castle")[4] is a small town in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It had a population of 5,089 people in the 2001 Census. It is the seat and main settlement of Moyle District Council.

The town is located on the Northern tip of North Ireland and has a beach with 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.

Demographics[edit]

Ballycastle is classified as a small town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.[5] On 29 April 2001 (the date of the last census) there were 5,089 people living in Ballycastle.

Of these:

  • 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[edit]

Breakers on Antrim Coast near Ballycastle, Ireland, with cliffs of Fair Head. Scotland appears in the distance on clear days.
  • 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 Marconi memorial
  • The Devils Churn lying just beyond Pans Rocks, which has steps carved into the stone leading to an underwater 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.
  • 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.

Buildings of note[edit]

Rathlin Island Ferry, Ballycastle Harbour
  • 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.[citation needed] 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.[6]

Notable people[edit]

Transport[edit]

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.[8]

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[edit]

  • 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.[9]
  • 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.[10]

Parade disputes[edit]

In the past, there has been unrest regarding Orange Order parades in the town. In 2001, there was serious public disorder at the 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.[11] 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.[citation needed]

Climate[edit]

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,[12] 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)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.5
(43.7)
6.5
(43.7)
8.0
(46.4)
9.9
(49.8)
12.8
(55)
15.0
(59)
16.9
(62.4)
16.7
(62.1)
14.7
(58.5)
11.9
(53.4)
8.8
(47.8)
7.2
(45)
11.24
(52.23)
Average low °C (°F) 1.5
(34.7)
1.6
(34.9)
2.3
(36.1)
3.4
(38.1)
5.3
(41.5)
7.8
(46)
10.1
(50.2)
10.1
(50.2)
8.5
(47.3)
6.5
(43.7)
3.6
(38.5)
2.4
(36.3)
5.26
(41.46)
Precipitation mm (inches) 119.16
(4.6913)
110.12
(4.3354)
97.36
(3.8331)
105.86
(4.1677)
71.08
(2.7984)
74.94
(2.9504)
80.05
(3.1516)
85.00
(3.3465)
95.78
(3.7709)
85.95
(3.3839)
136.29
(5.3657)
151.63
(5.9697)
1,213.22
(47.7646)
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
Source: MetOffice[13]

Sport[edit]

  • Sports of local interest include tennis, bowling (Mary Street), hurling, gaelic football (Whitehall/Leyland Road), and skateboarding.[citation needed]

Gaelic Games[edit]

Golf[edit]

  • Ballycastle Golf Club offers an 18-hole championship course open to both members and non-members year round.[citation needed] The course is one of the four courses played each June in the world renowned Causeway Coast Golf Tournament.[citation needed]

Tennis[edit]

  • During the Summer, the town hosts two tennis tournaments, one of which is run by the Moyle District Council.[14]

Association Football[edit]

Bowls[edit]

  • Ballycastle Bowling Club is located outdoors at the sea-front.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]