|Irish: Bealach Cláir|
Ballyclare shown within Northern Ireland
|Population||8,770 (2001 Census)|
|Irish grid reference|
|– Belfast||13 miles (21 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
|NI Assembly||South Antrim|
Ballyclare (historically Bellaclare; from Irish Bealach Cláir, meaning "pass of the plain") is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,770 people in the 2001 Census. Under the reorganisation of Northern Ireland local government in 1973, Ballyclare lost its urban district status and became part of Newtownabbey Borough.
It sits on the river Six Mile Water with Craig Hill providing a wooded backdrop to the east. Its medieval origins can still be seen in Ballyclare Motte, which is to the south of the town. The broad main street dates from the 18th century. A clock tower is a central focus within the town and the old mill marks the industrial district on the south east developed along the Six Mile Water. It is a local service centre with a significant dormitory role in relation to Belfast. It is the main focus within the rural area for housing, shopping and commerce, industry and employment, education and recreation.
People have lived in Ballyclare for five thousand years. Invaders included Vikings and Normans. The earliest evidence of people in this area is a hoard of flint arrow heads found when houses were being built north of the river in November 1968. There were a total of thirty-nine flints discovered – some perfectly finished and others are blank indicating an 'industry' and trading here near the river crossing over four thousand years ago.
When the Normans built the castle at Carrickfergus they placed a line of outposts along the river which was then called the "Ollar" – River of the Rushes. In time the soldiers making the journey from Carrickfergus to Antrim reached the river at this spot when they had travelled six miles so began to call the Ollar the Six Mile Water. One of these mottes is close by the river in the War Memorial Park in Ballyclare. There are two on opposite sides of the river at Doagh and one at Antrim. The village grew after the Plantation of Ulster and was granted permission by King George II in 1756 to hold two fairs each year making it an important market centre.
At the same time as the Pilgrim Fathers landed in America, Ballyclare was settled by Scots planters. Jonathan Swift preached here and it was from here the families of Mark Twain, Sam Houston and General Alexander Macomb left for America. The people of Ballyclare and the surrounding villages played a part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and fought in the Battle of Antrim. At the beginning of the twentieth century Ballyclare was a growing industrial town with an urban district council and became the largest paper producer in Ireland.
Ballyclare is classified as a small town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 4,500 and 10,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 8,770 people living in Ballyclare. Of these:
- 21.5% were aged under 16 years and 18.9% were aged 60 and over
- 48.3% of the population were male and 51.7% were female
- 8% were from a Catholic background and 92% were from a Protestant background.
- 3.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.
For more details see: Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service
- The population has grown significantly over the last 30 years from 1,999 in 1971 to 8,654 in 2001, an increase of 433%.
Buildings of note
- Ballyclare Market House is a 3–bay, 2–storey building built about 1855, recently used as a shopping centre. Now derelict and under threat of demolition
- The old cinema, near the river on main street, which is currently used as a toilet block.
- The current Ballyclare Primary School building was originally built in 1880 and has been vigorously extended ever since.
It includes three stages: the 1880 school house, the 1923s extension, the 1950s extension, the 2006 mobile classrooms addition.
- Open Coffee Ballyclare is an informal business network that meets monthly in the area. It is open to all entrepreneurs and other professionals in the area.
- A business and community linked website – ‘Ballyclare, it’s your town’ was created by Ballyclare Chamber of Trade to provide people (local and across the world) with an insight on 'what has gone on in Ballyclare' and 'what is going on in Ballyclare'. The site provides a perfect gateway into the many inspiring stories of how Ballyclare has played an influential role; not just locally but across the globe and also informs shoppers of the many incentives to make Ballyclare a favourite place to shop. The Chamber also created a 'Ballyclare, it's your town' Facebook page to promote the town.
- A dedicated Facebook page 'Love Ballyclare' was launched in August 2013 to celebrate and promote the history, people and culture of the town.
- There was also yin called 'Ballyclare Sixer-Dug Association' too, although it has gone.
Archibald McIlroy's novel "When Lint Was in the Bell" is a light-hearted, lightly fictionalised chronicle of life in 19th century Ballyclare. A Ballyclare native, born c. 1860, Mr. McIlroy was lost in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.
Two award-winning musical ensembles frequently represent the town on the regional, national and international stage: the Ballyclare Male Choir since 1933, and the Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band since 1919. The current guest conductor of the Flute Band is Glen Houston. The Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band is also based in the town and is regular in parades and RSPBA competitions. Ballyclare is also birthplace to Andy Cairns, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist from the critically acclaimed alternative rock band Therapy? who have achieved worldwide success.
The May Fair
The Ballyclare May Fair occurs on a Tuesday in May every year, and is part of a week of festivities. It is also known as the Chav Fair. The tradition stems from a grant by King George II to hold two yearly fairs, although only the May Fair now survives. The event began as a local horse fair, but representatives of cavalry regiments came from all over Europe to buy there as the reputation of the fair spread. The fair's heyday ended with the First World War, but it is still a well-loved event in the town.
The May Fair is one of the few horse fairs now left in the country. The Main Street is sanded down and given over to horse selling for the day. There is, however, now a variety of modern amusements in the square. Other events include the Mayor's parade, followed by sports, street events, concerts and exhibitions. Local shops compete for the best dressed window, and children take part in fancy dress competitions and the duck race. A May Fair queen is chosen to represent the town over the next year.
A recent attempt by local traders to uproot the traditional fair from the town's Market Square has sparked outcry and protest amongst the local residents.
Natives and residents
- Andy Cairns, guitarist and vocalist (Therapy?) is a native
- Former Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby captain Willie John McBride is a resident of the town
- Caroline Lindsay, historian, genealogist (Nutt and Lindsay families, of County Antrim)
- European Tour golfer Gareth Maybin attended Fairview Primary School in the town during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and currently lives in nearby Doagh
- Former all Ireland Decathlon champion and Commonwealth Games athlete Hill McNeill still lives on the Ballycorr road, Ballyclare (as of January 2012); he is the son of James B. McNeill, who helped found and/or played for Ballyclare Comrades F.C. Hill McNeill was also an active runner with East Antrim Harriers AC (based in Ballyclare) for many years
- Father Eugene O'Hagan, singer (The Priests) lives in Ballyclare
- Scoatie - There wouldn't be a Ballyclare without this fine specimen. Many have described him as a 'Prince among men'
- Colin Fleming currently the principal flautist with world renowned Ulster Orchestra is a native of Ballyclare. Colin also is a former member of Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band.
- They say every town has at least one "Scobie" well Ballyclare has two Scobie Moore & Scobie McMaster - the former was a regular contributor to The Ballyclare Gazette with witty stories and recollections of childhood of growing up in the town. Scobie Moore is also a member of Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band (Percussion) and has also played with blues, R&B, Country & Western bands.
- Vernon 'Thunder' Robinson, has recently moved back to Ballyclare. The one-time frontman of 1980's rock band ' Morbid Force'. He is currently recording new material.
The road network in Ballyclare is centred on Main Street, North End and Market Square in the Town Centre. A number of roads lead into the Town Centre including the Hillhead Road from the south, the Doagh Road from the west and the Rashee, Ballyeaston and Ballycorr Roads from the north and north east. Car parking available in the town centre ranges from surface-level parking to free and paid on-street parking.
Ballyclare had a narrow gauge rail link to Larne and a broad gauge connection to Belfast. Neither of these have been in use since the 1950s. Ballyclare railway station on the narrow gauge Ballymena and Larne Railway opened on 24 August 1878, closed to passenger traffic on 1 October 1930, closed to goods traffic on 3 June 1940 and finally closed altogether on 3 July 1950. The station on the broad gauge Northern Counties Committee railway line opened on 3 November 1884, closed for passenger traffic on 1 January 1938, closed for goods traffic on 2 May 1938 and finally closed altogether on the same date as its narrow gauge counterpart in 1950. The building was demolished altogether in 2004 and was replaced with a similarly shaped and styled building. The old engine shed, however, remains and is now a carpet sales room.
- Ballyclare Ladies Hockey Club – currently have 4 senior teams, 2 junior teams & a mini hockey section. They can be contacted on Facebook or on www.ballyclareladieshc.com
- Kings Moss Cycling Club established in 1922 by the Whittley family in Kings Moss, Ballyrobert. Currently sponsored by www.chainreactioncycles.com and compete at open and closed road racing, time trials, hill climbs, MTB and CX events. Affiliated to Cycling Ireland in 2011 as well as the CTC.
- Ballyclare Comrades F.C., based at Dixon Park plays in the IFA Championship
- Grange Rangers FC, based at Foundry Lane, plays in Division 2A of the Northern Amateur Football League – www.grangerangersfc.co.uk.
- Ards F.C., also of the IFA Championship, also play at Dixon Park
- Ballyclare Rugby Football Club play out of the Cloghan found on the Doagh road.
- Ballyclare & District Pool League currently has 11 teams, and is affiliated to the Northern Ireland Pool Association
- Templepatrick Cricket Club also plays at the Cloughan.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ballyclare.|
Ballyclare Colts Football Club was founded in 2003 and has teams ranging from U11 through to U15, plus a mini soccer programme for boys and girls aged 10 and under.
- East Antrim Harriers AC
- Kallen, Jeffrey L. Focus on Ireland. p. 190.
- Placenames Database of Ireland
- "Ballyclare". Draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2007.
- Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency website.
- Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information website.
- "Open Coffee Ballyclare". Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Ballyclare Male Choir website.
- Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band website.
- "Ballyclare station". Railscot – Irish Railways. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
- Ballyclare and District Historical Society
- Ballyclare Guide and Directory 1888
- Ballyclare Colts Football Club
- Readers Park, Ballyclare
- Ballyclare Primary School
- Ballyclare, it's your town