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Straid (from the Irish: an tSráid) is a small village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, about three miles east of Ballyclare, and about six miles inland from Carrickfergus. It lies within the Newtownabbey Borough Council area. It lies within the former barony of Belfast Lower, with the local townland being Straidlands. Straid has a congregational church, an Orange hall, and a primary school.
The village is of pre-Norman antiquity. Human habitation goes back in the area many thousands of years, and of great local excitement were the discovery of Bronze Age cist graves nearby. There are other pre-historic earthworks threatened by the expansion of the village. The name of the village is an Anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic word Sraid, meaning "street", as it was originally just a street. The village has historically developed along Main Street, which contains many original buildings. In recent years development has been concentrated between Main Street and Irish Hill Road. Straid Primary School and Straid Congregational Church are in the village, the inscription on the church reads "Ebenezer, erected 1816, rebuilt and enlarged 1837" There is also a freemason’s hall. The local river is called the Brang-Tang but the etymology is unknown
Straid was the centre of the 1859 Christian revival under the then-pastor James Bain. Tom Shaw writes: "The cockfighting pit, which had been a place for vice of the worst kind, became a preaching point where many were won to Christ. Public bars began to close, and profanity and drunkenness, which characterized many lives, were set aside as the Spirit of God moved through the community." James Bain describes a typical revival Sabbath: "Our Sabbath services are continuous, from nine in the morning until ten at night. We are engaged from nine to twelve in prayer meetings for the young, from twelve to two in public service, from two to four in prayer meetings, from five to eight in the evening service, and finally in our evening prayer meeting. The evening services at the church became so well attended that the only suitable place to assemble was outdoors. At one of these evening gatherings, some of the new converts gave testimony, and Bain preached two sermons. The whole audience was gripped with a sense of intense spiritual anxiety. Numbers cried for mercy, and not a single soul departed from that scene until morning." In 1860 over 3000 people gathered for an open-air service on a hill near the village.
"STRAID is a village less than 21⁄2 miles east of Ballyclare, in the barony of Lower Belfast. It had a population of 111 in 1881. Bauxite mines are worked in the immediate vicinity. From Straid Hill there is a fine view of the surrounding country. The land is good for dairying. Crops: potatoes, oats, and some flax. Straid is in the postal district of Ballyclare. Letters should be addressed, Straid, Ballyclare"
Although a small village, it gave the name "Straidlands" to the "townland" of the area. Dominating the village is the "Irish Hill" named after an army camp. A mining village for many years, there is an outcrop of bauxite or Aluminium ore in Irish hill. The woods at the top of the hill have a distinctive gap where a hurricane in the early 1920s blew down part of the forest.
In 2003 the village was expanded by 63 houses, creating a new housing estate at "village hill" - Irish Hill Road. For many years the only two shops in the village were a spirit grocer and Wilson’s shop and animal food stuffs. The spirit grocer (a precursor to the modern off licence) was shut when the only alcohol licence for the village was bought by the church to keep Straid "dry" - the nearest pub is slightly over a mile away in the neighboring village of Ballynure. There was culture in the form of Straid Art Gallery, until it shut. Now there is none.
In the 2001 Census Straid had a population of 312 people. In the 1881 Census the population was 111. The population has recently doubled with the building of a new housing estate.
Straid Primary School
Straid Primary School was recently commended in a government review for its "caring atmosphere, committed and hard-working staff, pleasant children who are willing to learn and co-operate... ...and the strong support of the community."
One of the main crops that made the area rich was flax. Cows are now a common sight in the area, as are sheep. Corn was ground in Straid Corn Mill; this was built and operated by the Weir family, who were the village millers from the 17th century onwards. The mill is now at Cultra Heritage Museum. To the North of the village towards Carrickfergus, an important part of local heritage was recently destroyed with the demolition of the old flax mill to make way for new housing. This caused some controversy at the time. A famous local group that reflects the agricultural background of the area is "Straid young farmers" club.
Note: 'Straid Corn Mill' is actually from Straid, Ballymena and not as suggested here, from the village of Straid, Ballyclare.
One of the big attractions to the area is fishing - Straid Fishery is one of the top rainbow trout fisheries in N.Ireland. Based on Straid Dam, which was man-made around 1824 to supply the nearby cottonmill, there are 3 lakes: 20 acre, 2 acre and .5 acre. Fly fishing on the two lake is complimented by a small coarse lake.
Restrictions on future development
The Planning Service in Northern Ireland has listed the following key features which must be taken into account when developing the area of Straid:
"The nineteenth century, formal, vernacular buildings in Main Street and the form of adjacent spaces; Straid House, an early nineteenth century two storey dwelling and shop with classical detailing, which stands at a bend in Main Street at the north end of the village, closing the vista from Seskin Road to form a village square; The Gothic inspired Straid Congregational Church (1816); The eighteenth century cottages located along Main Street, opposite the Church; and The cottages and two storey houses, along Seskin Avenue/Seskin Park, set in a mature landscape of gardens and rubble stone boundary walls"
There was a film called simply Straid made in the late 1980s, and a young local girl Gillian Sempey, is visible dashing across a background in a red cagoul. Her family has lived in the area for many generations.
Willoughby Wilson OBE (1923–2004), was a surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. He was awarded the OBE in 1983 for his dedicated work on mutilation injuries during the troubles. He was also the chairman of medical staff.
- Bassett, George Henry (1888). The Book of Antrim.
- NI Neighbourhood Information System
- Draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015