Ballycastle, County Antrim
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Bellykessel or Bellycaissle
|Irish: Baile an Chaistil|
Ballycastle shown within Northern Ireland
|Population||5,089 (2001 Census)|
|Irish grid reference|
|– Belfast||55 miles (89 km)|
|District||Causeway Coast and Glens|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
|UK Parliament||North Antrim|
|NI Assembly||North Antrim|
The town is located on the north-easternmost coastal tip of the island of Ireland at the northern mainland limit of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Rathlin Island and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland can be viewed from the coastline. The Ould Lammas Fair is held each year on the last Monday and Tuesday of August. Ballycastle is the home of the Corrymeela Community. It was the seat and main settlement of the old Moyle District Council and forms part of the North Antrim constituency. Its elected MP is Ian Paisley Jr. Ballycastle was named the best place to live in Northern Ireland in a list compiled by The Sunday Times in 2016.
- 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
- Fair Head, Ballycastle's headland rises 196 metres (643 ft) out of the bay. Goats can be seen roaming among the rocks beneath the cliff tops, where a walkway called 'The Gray Man's Path' winds around the rugged coastline. From the road, a man-made Iron Age island or crannog can be seen in the middle of a large lake.
- Knocklayde, a heather-covered mountain with a height of 1,695 feet, is crowned by Carn na Truagh (the cairn of sorrow), and provides 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 is 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 had begun. The king and his army tried to capture Taisie, but in the subsequent battle he was killed, and his army fled leaderless and empty-handed.
- The Carey, Glenshesk and Tow Rivers flow down from the glens into the Margy River. It then flows into the Moyle Sea at the start of the Strand.
- The Strand's Ballycastle Beach is designated a Blue Flag beach.
- Pans Rocks, which are the remains of an iron salt pan lying at the far end of Ballycastle Beach, jut out into the sea providing a popular location for fishing.
- The Devils Churn, lying just beyond Pans Rocks, 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 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
- 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. Built by Colonel Hugh Boyd, who bore the total cost, the church was completed in 1756. 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 and its 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. The 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. 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.
- Sir Roger Casement, Irish writer and Republican Revolutionary
- Michael Dallat, former Titular Bishop of Thala
- Michelle Fairley, actress
- Conleth Hill, actor
- Donal Lamont, Emeritus Bishop of Mutare, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978
- David McWilliams, folksinger and musician
- John Samuel Bewley Monsell, clergyman and hymnwriter
- Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien, Cardinal and Primate of Scotland
- Robert Quigg, soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross
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, operated by Kintyre Express, now runs Friday to Monday during summer months and on Mondays and Fridays during winter months.
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
Loyalist paramilitaries left a car bomb outside the Roman Catholic church (St. Patrick's & St. Brigid's) in the town on 26 August 1973. It was timed to explode as massgoers left the church. But the service ran late, and the bomb detonated when the congregation were still inside the church, avoiding large-scale loss of life. 50 people were injured, 3 of them seriously.
On 19 June 1979 the Irish Republican Army bombed five hotels in different seaside towns in Northern Ireland, including Ballycastle's Marine Hotel. William Whitten, a 65-year-old Protestant hotel guest, was seriously injured in the blast; he died three weeks later.
Spence McGarry (46), an off duty member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), was killed when a Provisional Irish Republican Army booby trap bomb attached to his car exploded in Castle Street car park, Ballycastle on 6 April 1991. Gerard Butler was convicted in 1993 for the attack, and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
In the past, there has been unrest during Orange Order parades in the town. In 2001, there was serious public disorder at the 12 July parade. As a result of this, the Silver Plains flute band from nearby Moyarget, was banned from marching in the town due to allegations of sectarian conduct and paramilitary trappings. 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.
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, about 4 miles East-southeast 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)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.5
|Average low °C (°F)||1.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||119.16
|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|
Sports of local interest include tennis, bowling (Mary Street), hurling, gaelic football (Whitehall/Leyland Road), and skateboarding.
The McQuillan GAC Ballycastle club has won 17 Antrim Senior Hurling Championships, the second-most of any club. The club has won 6 Ulster Senior Club Hurling Championships and were finalists in the 1980 All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship final. The club has a range of teams from U8 to Senior in both Hurling and Gaelic Football.
Ballycastle Golf Club offers an 18-hole championship course open year round to both members and non-members. The course is one of the four courses played each June in the world-renowned Causeway Coast Golf Tournament.
During the Summer, the town hosts two tennis tournaments, one of which is run by the Moyle District Council.
Ballycastle Bowling Club is located outdoors at the sea-front.
Contact: Mr Samuel Craig 70 Capecastle Road Ballycastle BT54 6HT Tel: 028 207 51328
- North-South Ministerial Council: 2002 Annual Report in Ulster Scots
- Bonamargy Friary guide – Department of the Environment
- Guide to Dunluce Castle in Ulster-Scots Archived 3 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine. DOE.
- Placenames Database of Ireland
- Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency website
- Ballycastle Presbyterian Church
- Robert Pigott (3 March 2013). "Cardinal Keith O'Brien sorry for sexual misconduct". BBC. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- "Kintyre Express - ferry services and private charters". kintyreexpress.com. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- Patrick Carville (27 August 1973). "50 hurt in bomb blast in Ulster". Chicago Tribune.
- Ken Wharton (August 2014). Wasted Years, Wasted Lives. 2. Helion & Company. p. 210. ISBN 9781909982178.
- "'Unheard Voices' - six stories from the Troubles". Ballymoney Times. 6 May 2009.
- "Republicans". Daily Telegraph. 27 July 2000.
- "UVF members linked to bomb". BBC News. 1 September 2001.
- The Guardian
- "Station Locations". MetOffice.
- "Ballypatrick Long Term Data". Met Office. Retrieved 21 Sep 2011.
- "Bally Castle Golf Club". http://www.ballycastlegolfclub.com/. Retrieved 10 February 2015. External link in
- "Causeway Coast". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- Moyle Council
- |"Ballycastle UFC". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Ballycastle.|