Ballygalley or Ballygally (from Irish: Baile Geithligh, meaning "Geithleach's townland") is a village and holiday resort in County Antrim, Northern Ireland which lies on the Antrim coast, approximately 3 miles north of Larne. It had a population of 714 in the 2001 Census.
In the 1990s archaeological excavations were carried out in Ballygally and remains of a number of Neolithic houses on low ground about 500m from the shore of Ballygally Bay were discovered. Ballygalley Neolithic site produced a large number of finds, including pottery, worked flints and stone axes and is an important Neolithic site.
Places of interest
Notable features include the distinct headland of Ballygally Head, O'Haloran's Castle, The White Bear Rock, a lovely sandy beach, Ballygally Castle and a new community centre.
Ballygally beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike especially during the summer months.
Ballygally Castle, reputed to be the oldest occupied building in Ireland, has a reputation for being haunted. It sits in the middle of the village at the junction with the road to Cairncastle and contains a 4-star hotel with renovated bar and restaurant. The castle was built around 1625 for James Shaw of Greenock and is one of Ireland’s best-preserved Scottish baronial style plantation houses.
Ballygally now has a brand new two-storey community centre (funded by the Big Lottery, Larne Borough Council and NER) which includes a Spar shop with some Post Office facilities at ground level and a Community Hall on the first floor. The shop and restaurant which previously existed on this site was demolished in 2008, The Community Hall has weekly events and social activities throughout the year.
Cairndhu Golf Course, on top of Ballygally Head, overlooks the village and Carnfunnock Country Park (which offers a cafe, caravan park, children's playground, go-cart racing, clay pigeon shooting, mini-train rides, bungee runs, mini-golf and nature walks) is nearby.
Ballygally is classified as a small village or hamlet by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with a population between 500 and 1,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 714 people living in Ballygally. Of these:
- 21.6% were aged under 16 and 22.1% were aged 60 and over
- 49.0% of the population were male and 51.0% were female;
- 27.9% were from a Catholic background and 70.5% were from a Protestant background
- 2.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.
For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service
Wedges of agglomerate have been found around Ballygally Head, showing that there were several stages of eruption, allowing tuff to form before the vent was blown out and once more filled with magma. There are tall columns in places around Ballygally Head, similar to the basalt columns found at the Giant's Causeway, but these are dolerite, a rock similar to basalt but which cooled more slowly, held inside the volcano vent, and so had time to grow larger crystals.
Scawt Hill, another volcanic plug 5 km west north west of Ballygally, is an internationally important site for geology due to the rare minerals found there. It is a protected Area of Special Scientific Interest.
- O'Sullivan, Aidan & Breen, Colin (2007). Maritime Ireland. An Archaeology of Coastal Communities. Stroud: Tempus. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7524-2509-2.
- Maggs, C.A. and Guiry,M.D. 1987. Gelidiella calcicola sp. nov. (Rhodophyta) from the British Isles and Northern France. Br. phycol. J. 22: 417 - 434. (Ref. Maggs, C.A. and Guiry,M.D. 1987)
- Wilson, H E et al (1986) Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, HMSO
- Geography in Action, Dolerite, Northern Ireland