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St John's church, Ballycarry - - 477037.jpg
St John's church, Ballycarry
Ballycarry is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population981 (2001 Census)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT
Dialling code028
PoliceNorthern Ireland
FireNorthern Ireland
AmbulanceNorthern Ireland
EU ParliamentNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
54°46′27″N 5°45′10″W / 54.774158°N 5.752716°W / 54.774158; -5.752716Coordinates: 54°46′27″N 5°45′10″W / 54.774158°N 5.752716°W / 54.774158; -5.752716

Ballycarry is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is midway between Larne and Carrickfergus, overlooking Islandmagee, and is part of the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 981.[citation needed]


Neolithic artefacts found in the village suggest ancient settlement, while the Lislaynan ecclesiastical settlement looks back to a thousand years of Christian witness. There was also a Norman settlement in the area, at Redhall, and at Brackenberg, now the centre of modern Ballycarry. An early Christian stone coffin lid which was uncovered at Redhall in the 18th century, was reinstated in the Templecorran cemetery and displays an early Christian cross engraved within an arc.


The town is home to Ballycarry Presbyterian Church. Founded in 1613, Ballycarry is the oldest congregation in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The present church building dates from 1830. The Old Presbyterian (Non-Subscribing) Presbyterian Congregation also traces its roots back to 1613, and this congregation remained strongest in 1829 when the Presbyterian Church was split over the Subscription Controversy, the Non-Subscribers leaving open the issue of subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Old Presbyterian Church is located on the Main Street in the village. The most imposing church building is that of St. John's Parish Church, the Church of Ireland congregation, built in the 19th century by the Ker family of Redhall.

Ballycarry Community Association organises the Broadisland Gathering community festival held each year on the first Saturday in September and associated dates. The Gathering highlights the strong Ulster Scots heritage of the community and includes dancing, music, pipe bands, discussions, re-enactment, exhibitions and the Aul Kinntra Fair, revived from the 1930s but dating back to the 17th century. Chief guests at the Gathering have including Rt. Hon. Dr. John Reid, when Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Ballycarry has a vibrant community association, which succeeded in attracting funding for a modern community centre in the village in 2001. The Association includes representatives from all local groups in the village including the three local churches, sports clubs, fraternities and social groups. In 2009 many events were held in Ballycarry to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the community being established in 1609.


  • James Orr, known as the Bard of Ballycarry, was the foremost of the Ulster Weaver Poets, and was writing contemporaneously with Robert Burns. He was one of many Ulster Presbyterians who fled to America after taking part in the ill-fated United Irish Rising in 1798. He returned to Ballycarry under an amnesty and died in the village in 1816. An imposing monument to Orr, erected by local Freemasons in 1831, is sited in the adjacent Templecorran cemetery. In 2011 a tourist trail, the Weaver's Trail, was officially launched in Orr's honour by the Mayor of Larne, Cllr. Bobby McKee MBE, and was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.[2]
  • Rev. Edward Brice, the first Presbyterian minister in Ireland, came to Ballycarry in 1613 and ministered in the Templecorran Church, now in ruins. He was originally from Stirlingshire in Scotland and was brought to the village by William Edmondstone, who settled there in 1609. Brice was one of several Scottish clergymen who were forbidden to preach by the Established Church authorities in the 1630s.
  • General Sir James Steele, who was born in Ballycarry, was the British Army officer who signed the mobilisation order to take the United Kingdom to war with Nazi Germany in 1939. He later played a part in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and the Normandy landings in 1944. A memorial on the village green highlights his military achievements, his connection with the Royal Ulster Rifles and his love of Ballycarry.
  • Rev. John Bankhead, who was minister at Ballycarry for almost 71 years, was married twice and had 22 children. He was ordained in August 1763 and died in July 1833.[3]
  • William Nelson, a 16-year-old hanged for his part in the ill-fated Irish Rebellion of 1798, which involved many Presbyterians in East Ulster, is known as The Ballycarry Martyr. His brother John was transported for his part in the Rising and became a successful architect in Virginia and a personal friend of President Thomas Jefferson.
  • William James Hume, local farmer, poet and entertainer, was author of a popular 1940s Ulster folksong The Muttonburn Stream, which is a local river lying to the north west of Ballycarry. He died in 1948.
  • William Calwell, who emigrated from Ulster to California, returned to the village after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and brought back architects plans for basement style bungalows, some of which still remain in the village and are unique in Northern Ireland. He was also one of the founders of a co-operative creamery in the community, which continued to operate under the Dale Farm company until the 1990s. Calwell was also a local poet and died on his 90th birthday.
  • The late Michelin Star chef Robbie Millar was from Ballycarry.
  • The graves of over 50 locally notable figures are documented in "The Templecorran Project: an historic guide to Templecorran cemetery, Ballycarry" by David Hume and John W Nelson (1999), providing a historical trail through the old cemetery in the village.


  • Ballycarry Primary School


Ballycarry railway station was opened on 1 October 1862.[4] The railway station is located about a mile from the village.

2001 Census[edit]

Ballycarry is classified as a small village or hamlet by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)(i.e. with population between 500 and 1,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 981 people living in Ballycarry. Of these:

  • 23.1% were aged under 16 years and 15.1% were aged 60 and over
  • 50.2% of the population were male and 49.9% were female
  • 2.9% were from a Catholic background and 92.3% were from a Protestant background
  • 3.8% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service


  1. ^ North-South Ministerial Council: 2005 Annual Report in Ulster Scots Archived 2011-12-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ballycarry - Co Antrim - Home of Poet James Orr
  3. ^ Witherow, Thomas (1880). Historical and literary memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland (1731-1800). London & Belfast: William Mullan & Son. pp. 136–140. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  4. ^ "Ballycarry" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-27.

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