Ballymoney Conflict and War

Ballymoney War Memorial and royal british legion

Wars And Conflicts In Ballymoney

1641 Rebellion

Old Church Tower
The Old Church Tower was completed in 1637, only to be burnt down four years later.

The seventeenth century was a very tumultuous and stormy period in Irish history.

New arrivals to the region, mostly lowland Scottish Presbyterians, were not welcomed by their aggrieved neighbours. The native Irish resented the attempts by King Charles I to impose strict new laws and the Protestant faith.

These tensions led to an outbreak of rebellion in 1641. Settlers were attacked by Irish armies opposed to English rule. Irish forces seized the settlement at Agivey on the river Bann. The Irish later defeated armies loyal to King Charles in clashes at the Leaney and Portna, near Ballymoney. The Rebellion was crushed the following year. However, violent unrest continued over the coming decades, and some historians associate the events of the seventeenth century with many present-day problems in Ireland.

The Ballymoney Volunteers

Ballymoney Volunteer's Jug and Mug
Ballymoney Volunteer’s Jug & Mug

In 1778, Ireland faced the threat of invasion. Thousands of troops had been sent abroad to fight America and France, leaving their homeland vulnerable to attack. The Irish people formed a militia to defend their island, the Irish Volunteers.

In 1784, 70-100 men enlisted in the Ballymoney Volunteer Company. Every recruit received military training and was regarded with prestige by the community.

Local gentry became commanding officers. In Ballymoney, James Leslie of Leslie Hill became a Captain. Volunteer Reviews were held at Leslie Hill, combining Companies from across County Antrim.

Due to the bankrupt position of the Irish Treasury, the Volunteers were entirely self-financed and independent of the Government. Members are said to have been landlords, merchants and professional men, for only they could afford to pay for a musket and uniform and also suffer the loss of earnings while on drill or manoeuvre.

The Volunteers were very politically active and lobbied the Irish Parliament for liberal changes in the law. Eventually, the government opposed the civilian army, and the Irish Volunteers were finally disbanded in 1793.

The headstone of William Reynolds records that he was the surgeon of the Ballymoney Volunteers and was buried ‘with full military honours’ in Ballymoney Old Church Graveyard.

The Society of United Irishmen

Badge of the United Irish Rebellion
Badge of the United Irishmen

The Society of United Irishmen was formed in Belfast by a group of liberal-minded Presbyterian merchants in 1791. They hoped to bring about radical reform in the Irish Parliament. Inspired by the revolutions in France and America, their ambition was to create a new democracy that included Irishmen of every class and religious persuasion – “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.

In the north of Ireland, where the population was predominantly Presbyterian, the principles of the United Irishmen had considerable appeal as the Society’s ambitions reflected Presbyterian ethos.

Shortly after the formation of the Society, they began to publish their popular newspaper, The Northern Star, which helped to spread their political manifesto throughout the country. By 1796, the Government became concerned that the United Irishmen posed a dangerous threat. Membership became illegal. In response, the Society formed a secret army and began to plot rebellion.

The ill-fated rebellion took place in May-June 1798. It was swiftly crushed, and the armies of the Society of United Irishmen were mercilessly defeated.

The Uprising in North Antrim

Execution of Francis McKinley
Execution of United Irishman Francis McKinley

When the United Irish Rebellion started in Ulster on Wednesday, 6th June 1798, local people began looting houses and gathering weapons. Late that Friday, five thousand rebels gathered at Kilraughts.

On a Saturday morning, the Government forces reached Ballymoney and found the town almost deserted. Those who supported the rebellion had gone to Kilraughts, and anyone who didn’t had fled to the safety of Coleraine. Colonel Lord Henry Murray ordered his men to burn Ballymoney as punishment for the people’s disloyalty.

The rebels marched to Ballymena, led on horseback by eighteen-year-old Richard Caldwell of Harmony Hill (now Balnamore). By the time they arrived in Ballymena, the Rebellion was almost over, and the Government forces were approaching the town. On Sunday morning, the countryside was filled with men trying to hide or get home to safety.

In the days and weeks that followed, those arrested faced terrible punishments. Ballymoney magistrate George Hutchinson gained a terrifying reputation as he ruthlessly condemned men to be hanged or transported overseas. A few rebels were fortunate to escape and lived in exile for the rest of their lives.

WWI – Ballymoney Heroes

This section of the website lists the names of the men from Ballymoney, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, who died during the First World War.

The information on this website has been taken from the book Ballymoney Heroes by Robert Thompson. This book is highly recommended and tells the stories of over 300 young men from the Ballymoney district who served and died in the Allied Forces during this terrible conflict.

This website holds only a fraction of the information collected by Robert, and his book is filled with much more, including hundreds of photographs and stories about the individuals killed.

The book Ballymoney Heroes is available by mail order for £15 inc. p&p. Please contact Robert Thompson for details by clicking here to get your copy.

Visit Ballymoney would like to thank Robert Thompson for the opportunity to reproduce his work on these pages.

A Roll Of Honour Can be Found Here

More information on some of the back stories of those who fought and were killed in WW1 can be found here under our Stories of The Fallen

World War II Roll of Honour

Below are the names of the Ballymoney people who died during World War II. They are taken from the War Memorial in Ballymoney and were collected from the various Memorials in churches and towns across the Borough. The names, along with those who died in WWI and the Korean conflict, were placed on the memorial in November 2000, thanks to the dedicated work of local historian Robert Thompson.

By accessing the Commonwealth War Graves website at it has been possible to compile information on some of the service men and women who died in WWII have highlighted these in the list below and included their details. We have also included photographs of the deceased, for which we gratefully acknowledge the work of military historian Glenda Rodgers.

Adams, W.M.McBride, George
Beckett, RobertMcConnell, A. Leslie
Bellingham, WilliamMcKinney, A.
Blair, H.P.McKay, William
Boreland, Joseph JohnstonMcLaughlin, Alex
Boreland, ThomasMcLaughlin, James
Boyle, DanielMcMaster, W.T.
Brennan, ThomasMcNabb, S
Brown, RoyMcNabb, William
Cairns, JohnMcNeilly, James
Caldwell, ArthurMcToal, Joseph
Christie, William JamesMilliken, Robert
Cochrane, KennethMills, Robert
Crawford, Harry J.Miskelly, Robert
Cromie, Robert S.Moore, R.
Davidson, JamesMorrison, William
Douglas, WilliamNesbitt, John William
Duncan, WilliamOrr, Ronald M.
Fleck, EmmaPatterson, Leonard J.
Fulton, RobertPrice, V.C.
Gardiner, Annie MaryRainey, R.
Greene, JohnRamsey, J.
Herd, Samuel H.Reid, Robert Alex
Herd, Samuel J.Robinson, J.M.
Holmes, DanielShirley, Alex
Hutchinson, R.F.S.Smilie, William
Jamieson, James Q.Smyth, Robert John
Johnston, William S.Taylor, James Hector
Knox, Frank S.B.Twaddle, Norman
Lamont, DanTweed, R.
Maxwell, ErnestWiddowson, J.B.
McAleese, HenryWilson, Samuel R.
McAteer, John G.Wright, A.

Ballymoney Walking Tour

Ballymoney Town Hall

Arts Centre, Museum and Tourist Information Centre – Townhead Street

The Town Hall was erected through public subscription in 1866. It was renovated and enlarged in 1934 and again in 2005. Inside are rooms which commemorate some of Ballymoney’s most celebrated historical figures, George Shiels, the playwright, K.K. McArthur, Olympic gold medallist and James Cramsie. Cramsie helped to establish the town’s first museum and subscribed over £400 to the building of the Town Hall. A stained glass window at the front of the building depicts the former Ballymoney Coat of Arms.

The Town Hall is the home of the Ballymoney Drama Festival, the oldest festival of its kind in Ireland.


St. James’s Road

When the famous Rev Dr Henry Cooke opened this church on 20 March 1836, it was on the road to Coleraine and regarded as a magnificent, well-proportioned basalt ‘barn’ church. The road was closed a few years later, and after initial difficulties, the congregation grew and is now a powerful and prosperous one, as may be seen from the fine halls adjacent to the church.


High Street

This grand building with its imposing ‘Italianate’ façade was originally a ballroom built by the 5th Earl of Antrim at his own expense. It was completed c.1760 and hosted the Earl’s grand Antrim Hunt Balls, to which local aristocrats and guests were invited. Later it was used as barracks for Government troops during the 1798 Rebellion and the Napoleonic Wars. The Northern Bank Ltd. (formerly the Belfast Bank) has used these premises since 1863.


High Street

Below are the names of the Ballymoney people who died during World War II. They are taken from the War Memorial in Ballymoney and were collected from the various Memorials in churches and towns across the Borough. The names, along with those who died in WWI and the Korean conflict, were placed on the memorial in November 2000, thanks to the dedicated work of local historian Robert Thompson.


Charlotte Street

Reformed Presbyterians, or Covenanters as often called, are the followers of those Presbyterians who signed the Covenants of 1638 and 1643. In the 18th century, there were local societies of Covenanters at Kilraughts, Dervock and Ballymoney. They secured a minister, the Rev Dr W J Stavely, in 1804 and in 1831, this church was built. It has been refurbished many times, most recently in 2003. Services here retain the old Presbyterian traditions of singing only metrical psalms, unaccompanied, led by a precentor.


Charlotte Street

The Court House is believed to be an early example of the work of Sir Charles Lanyon. He was appointed County Surveyor in 1836, shortly before work began on this building. Lanyon is famous for such spectacular architecture as Queen’s University, Belfast.

The building is impressive for its small upper-storey Vitruvian doorway. It was used as a courthouse for nearly 140 years and is now in private ownership.


This street is a fine example of Irish late Georgian terrace houses. Many houses still retain their beautiful door cases, windows and fan lights. Formerly called Pyper Row, in 1826, it was renamed in honour of Lady Charlotte Kerr, daughter of the 6th Earl of Antrim.


The Diamond

Since erected by the 6th Earl of Antrim in c.1775, this building has served as a Market House, Court House, Town Hall, place of worship and school. It also housed the town’s first library (opened in 1839) and museum (opened in 1860). In 1785 the famous Methodist Rev. John Wesley preached here.

Following the 1798 Rebellion, local United Irishmen were hanged from gallows attached to the clock tower. Their bodies were buried at the base of the tower. The Campanile (bell tower) above the clock was erected by Hugh Seymour, 9th Earl of Antrim, in 1852.


Church Street

The Ulster Bank first opened a local branch at 33 Charlotte Street in 1836 before moving to these purpose-built and rather ornate premises in 1866. A listed building, it is now a commercial property containing private businesses.


Church Street

The tower is the oldest surviving building in the town, with a datestone inscribed in 1637. The church was rebuilt after being burned during the 1641 Irish Rebellion and used until 1782. 

Among those buried here is the town’s ghost, George Hutchinson JP, known as “Bloody Hutchinson”. Hutchinson was a local magistrate infamous for his summary justice following the United Irish Rebellion of 1798. Alexander Gamble, a United Irishman, was also buried here in 1883, 85 years after his execution. 

Recent restoration work, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has helped to preserve this important building. A leaflet guide to the Old Church Graveyard is available at the Tourist Information Centre.


Church Street

The Church of Ireland congregation has worshipped in this building since 1782. It was enlarged in 1868 when, among other additions, the tall spire was built, and more seating was provided with a south aisle. Across the road, the Old Church Tower is all that remains of the original Parish Church.


Rodeing Foot or Roddenfoot

This congregation began as a Presbyterian Seceder Society in Pyper Row (now Charlotte Street) and moved to this site in the 1840s. The current building was opened in 1885, primarily due to the efforts of the illustrious Rev. J. B. Armour, who was minister here from 1869-1925. 

The church is still known by many townspeople as “Armour’s Meeting House”.


Meeting House Street

This is the oldest place of worship in the town that is still in use. It is often known as “the Cathedral of Presbyterianism in the Route”. It was built in 1777 to replace the first Meeting House of 1690. The building was later extensively renovated in 1871, 1921 & 2004. The east window contains the coat of arms of the regiments in which members of the congregation fought during World War One.


Castle Street

Joey Dunlop, born in Ballymoney in 1952, was affectionately known to motorcycle racing fans and competitors as ‘King of the Roads’.

His incredible sporting career included five Formula One World Championships; 13 wins at the North West 200, 24 wins at the Ulster Grand Prix and a world record of 26 wins at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. His sporting achievements were recognised by Her Majesty the Queen when he was awarded an MBE in 1986. Ten years later, he was presented with an OBE for his remarkable humanitarian work with children in Eastern Europe.

Tragically Joey lost his life whilst racing in Estonia on 2nd July 2000. It is estimated that 60,000 people worldwide came to Ballymoney to attend his funeral. In May 2001, Ballymoney Borough Council officially.


Seymour Street

In 1859 the Rev William Crook opened a Methodist mission to bring practical and spiritual help to the people of Castle Street and surrounding areas. That year also saw a tremendous religious revival across Ulster, and Mr Crook decided he had enough support to merit the building of a Methodist Church, which was opened in 1861. It had a schoolroom underneath, and both church and school functioned well until the early years of the 20th century. In 1906 the school was closed, and the church was also in poor condition.

Services were transferred to the Town Hall, but an excellent renovation scheme of 1954-5 restored the building and was re-opened for worship. Further renovations took place in 1987 and 1993.


Seymour Street

Since 1855, passengers and freight have passed through Ballymoney Railway Station. For many years, the main line was under the control of the Belfast & Northern Counties Railway, while the Ballycastle Railway Company also ran a narrow gauge line from here to the coast from 1880-1950. The present station building was constructed in 1901 and later renovated in 1990.


Graveyard of the Church of Our Lady & St Patrick

When Christopher Kirgan died in 1931, aged 103 years old, he was one of Ireland’s oldest men. Kirgan was born at Unshinagh, near Dunloy. He was a well-known citizen of Belfast and first initiated the erection of this gothic mausoleum 20 years before his death. The churchyard also contains the grave of the famous playwright George Shiels.


Castle Street

The Church of Our Lady & St. Patrick was dedicated on 2 June 1878. The construction cost £8,870, raised through public subscription over nearly 20 years. It replaced an older building of 1833, although the first church on the site was completed in 1794. The ornate interior includes a pulpit and altars made from Caen stone. The main altar was the gift of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The renowned Franz Meyer Studio of Munich, Germany, created the stained glass windows in the apse.

Getting To Ballymoney

Travelling to Northern Ireland has never been easier. You can travel to Northern Ireland by air, ferry, bus or rail. Advances in aircraft technology, passenger shipping, road improvements and high-speed rail travel offer faster, more comfortable and more convenient travel. Fares will vary by season and promotional programme. Each carrier can be contacted directly for fare information and reservations

Travelling by Rail to Ballymoney

From Belfast

Translink operates a regular timetable, usually every hour or less between Belfast and Ballymoney. You can find the schedule here or use their app/website here. The journey from Belfast Central takes around an hour and 10 minutes through the Antrim countryside.

From Coleraine, you may have to change (see timetables) for trains to Ballymoney. Trains run every hour, and the journey takes around 10 minutes. 

From Derry-Londonderry

The Derry-Londonderry rail line is one of the most scenic train trips in the world. The route weaves along cliffs, through tunnels under temples, past over two runways and along the banks of Loch Foyle.

Many famous train enthusiasts, such as Micheal Palin and Micheal Portillo, have written fantastically about the Derry-Londonderry line.

What is the cheapest way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney?

The cheapest way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney is by bus, which costs £9 – £12 and takes 1h 26m.

Getting to Ballymoney by Bus

Translink runs several bus options for getting to Ballymoney the Causeway Rambler, Ulster Bus and Goldline depending on where you are coming from.

From Belfast and Derry-Londonderry

When coming from Belfast, you can use the regular 218 Goldline (Timetable here) coach service from Belfast or 234 Goldline from Derry~Londonderry (timetable here). 

Both of these services arrive at Ballymoney Rail and Bus station.

By Road

Getting to Ballymoney from Belfast

Follow the M2 towards Antrim. Take the A26 to Ballymena and follow the M2/A26 towards Coleraine/Portrush.

Getting to Ballymoney from Derry-Londonderry

Follow the A2 towards Limavady. Take the A37, then continue on the A29 towards Coleraine/Portrush. On approach to Coleraine, follow signs for Belfast/Ballymoney.

Getting to Ballymoney from the South (Armagh/Mid Ulster)

Follow the A29 towards Coleraine/Portrush. On approach to Garvagh, follow signs for Ballymoney.

Getting to Ballymoney via the Causeway Coastal Route

This is the best route to Ballymoney, clinging to the Atlantic coast from Belfast to Portrush (and onto Derry-Londonderry). The Causeway Coastal Route is adorned with stretches of sandy beaches and picturesque fishing villages, and Taking in the fantastic scenery from the car is incredible. Still, the other senses could be missing out! The sounds of the crashing waves, the birds soaring up above, the salty taste from the sea on your lips, and the wind whistling past your ears are all part of this legendary land’s beauty.

The journey takes around 2 and half hours if you do it in one go, but we recommend you make at least half a day and stop off at the many unique spots along the way, places such as The Gobbins, Carrick-a-rede Rope bridgeThe Giants Causeway and much much more. Check out our road trip here.

If you are a game of Thrones fan, you could check out our guide to all of the filming locations in Northern Ireland here, as it follows the Causeway Coastal Route for the most part.

Getting to Ballymoney from Dublin & The South

For those coming from Dublin or the South of Ireland, we recommend travelling via Belfast or Derry, and you can find out how to get to Ballymoney from these above. 

What is the cheapest way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney?

The cheapest way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney is to bus which costs £9 – £12 and takes 1h 26m.

What is the fastest way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney?

The quickest way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney is to taxi which costs £95 – £120 and takes 49 min.

Is there a direct bus between Belfast and Ballymoney?

Yes, there is a direct bus departing from Belfast Bridge Street and arriving at Ballymoney Charles Street. Services depart every two hours, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 1h 26m.

Is there a direct train between Belfast and Ballymoney?

Yes, there is a direct train departing from Belfast Lanyon Place and arriving at Ballymoney. Services depart hourly, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 1h 10m.

What is the distance between Belfast and Ballymoney?

The distance between Belfast and Ballymoney is 41 miles. The road distance is 47.6 miles.

How do I travel from Belfast to Ballymoney without a car?

The best way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney without a car is to train which takes 1h 10m and costs £8 – £13.

How long does it take to get from Belfast to Ballymoney?

The train from Belfast Lanyon Place to Ballymoney takes 1h 10m including transfers and departs hourly.

Where do I catch the Belfast to Ballymoney bus from?

Belfast to Ballymoney bus services, operated by Translink UK, depart from Belfast Bridge Street station.

Where do I catch the Belfast to Ballymoney train from?

Belfast to Ballymoney train services, operated by Translink UK, depart from Belfast Lanyon Place station.

Train or bus from Belfast to Ballymoney?

The best way to get from Belfast to Ballymoney is to train which takes 1h 10m and costs £8 – £13. Alternatively, you can bus, which costs £9 – £12 and takes 1h 26m.

Can I drive from Belfast to Ballymoney?

Yes, the driving distance between Belfast to Ballymoney is 48 miles. It takes approximately 49 min to drive from Belfast to Ballymoney.

Castles and Estates of Ballymoney



Motte and bailey castles were built by Anglo-Norman settlers in the period after they invaded Ulster in 1177.  Many of them survive throughout the east of Ireland. While Earls lived in large stone castles, such as at Carrickfergus, their chief tenants, the Barons, lived in these smaller fortified dwellings.

The ‘motte’ was a large mound of earth with a flat platform on which a wooden tower was erected. A wooden palisade protected the forum. The ‘bailey’, or courtyard, was an embanked enclosure at the foot of the mound where most of the inhabitants would live.

The bailey would probably have contained buildings, e.g. a hall, large chamber, and barns. Few Irish mottes were built with a bailey, unlike those found in England or Europe. Those with baileys tend to be situated in regions where the inhabitants were at risk from attack and thought they may have had a military function.

In the Ballymoney area, examples of a typical motte can be found at Carrowcrin, near Loughguile, and Drumart, near Ballymoney. Knockahollet, also near Loughguile, is a well-preserved motte with a bailey.

Leslie Hill

Leslie Hill House Near Ballymoney

Leslie Hill has remained in the Leslie family since it was built in 1756 and is one of the grandest buildings in Northern Ireland.

The front of the house overlooks a park and lake excavated in the 19th century. The house originally had two wings. These were demolished in 1955, although one has been rebuilt. The estate buildings include the Bell Barn, famously described by Arthur Young in 1776 during his ‘Tour of Ireland.

Successive generations of the Leslie family have served in public office, including high sheriffs, bishops, a Lord Lieutenant, privy Councillor and a Senator.

Leslie Hill now has a popular open farm, which attracts thousands of tourists and school children.


Saturday 11th April-13th April 11am-5.30pm

July and August:

Monday-Friday 11am-5.30pm

Saturday and Sunday 1 pm-5.30 pm

Benvarden House

Benvardin House Near Ballymoney

Benvarden House is an attractive house with an intriguing history, beautifully situated on the River Bush.

The land was initially leased to Daniel Macnaghten by Lord Antrim in 1636. His descendant, John Macnaghten, was hanged in 1761 for shooting wealthy heiress Mary Anne Knox of Prehen while trying to abduct her. At his execution, the rope broke and in a vain attempt to avoid being forever remembered as ‘Half-hanged Macnaghten’, he climbed the scaffold for a second attempt. Despite his efforts, the nickname stuck.

In 1797, Benvarden was bought by Hugh Montgomery, who was one of the founding partners of the Northern Bank. He extended the house considerably, adding twelve bed chambers and a ballroom.

Benvarden is probably best remembered for its lion park, which enthralled many visitors from the 1970s to 1996.

The estate is well-known for its extensive beautiful gardens, which were cultivated in the early 19th century and continue to be maintained with dedication by the present owners.


June – August 12 noon – 5 pm

Closed Mondays, except Bank Holidays.


OHarabrook House Near Ballmoney

O’Harabrook is a long, low house of two storeys, built in the late 18th century. It is named after the O’Hara family, who first built it.

It is thought that O’Harabrook may once have been a coaching inn because of the many small rooms it contains. In 1889, The O’Hara Family sold the estate for £6,300 to Captain J.S Cramsie, whose ancestors had settled in Ballymoney around 1709. The Cramsie family continue to live there.

In the estate is the graveyard of the Ballynacree Quaker settlement known as ‘The Lambs’ Fold’.

The estate is Now a Bed & Breakfast so not open to the public.

Lissanoure Castle

Lissanoure Castle

Sir Philip Savage built the first castle at Lissanoure in the reign of King John (1199-1216 AD).

The Macartney family purchased the estate in 1733, and it was the birthplace of George Macartney, who became the first British Ambassador to China in 1782. The Macartney family rebuilt and extended the castle using a mixture of gothic and classical architectural styles. Very little of this remains as the castle was destroyed in 1847 by a massive explosion. Caskets of gun powder, stored since the 1798 United Irish Rebellion, were accidentally ignited, and the building was left in ruins. Tragically, Mrs Macartney was instantly killed.

The Government used the estate to billet American troops during World War II, and a prisoner of war camp was built to detain German U-boat crews on their surrender in 1945.

The estate contains the ruined church of St. Mary by the Lake, the graveyard of which includes the Macartney tombs. The offices, and farm buildings dating from the 1780s, have been restored for private functions.

The grounds of Lissanoure Castle are strictly private and are not open to the public.

Fleming Hall, Anticur Dunloy

Fleming Hall is an attractive early Georgian house situated on a hillside. The Fleming family first came to the area in the 17th century when Colonel Christopher Fleming settled there. He was a Jacobite who fought for King James II in the Battles of Aughrim and the Boyne. Following the defeat of James II, Fleming had to forfeit his peerage, and he was forced into exile.

Fleming’s great nephew, also Christopher, obtained a lease for Fleming Hall in 1747. The property later passed to Sarah Fleming, who in 1789 became the second wife of James Leslie, of Leslie Hill. In the 19th century, the house was bought by the Wallace family, who retained much of the original character.

Fleming Hall is a private residence and is not open to the public.

Gracehill House, Stranocum

James Stuart built Gracehill House in c.1775 and named it after his wife, Grace Lynd. The house was initially surrounded by a large estate recently developed into a golf course and popular restaurant. The former entrance to the estate is now a public road lined with beech trees and is a popular tourist attraction known as ‘the Dark Hedges’.

The estate has a royal heritage dating back to the early 17th century. James VI & I granted the land to a cousin who drowned on his way to Ireland before he could take possession of his new home. The estate then passed to his grandson, William Stuart, and remained in the Stuart family for many.

Stranocum Hall, Stranocum

The Stranocum estate was initially owned by the Hutchinson family, who came from Scotland in the 17th century. It is built in the classic Georgian style and has recently been carefully restored as a private residence.

The Hutchinson family were actively crushing the United Irish Rebellion of 1798. Ironically, while the Hutchinsons were chasing rebels throughout the North Antrim countryside, a gang arrived at the house and stole valuables, firearms, wine and food.

During World War II, the building and outhouses were converted to accommodate child evacuees who fled from the British colony in Malta.

Close to the house are two Early Medieval ringforts and a souterrain.

Fishing Near Ballymoney

Fish Ballymoney

Nestling in the luscious green countryside synonymous with Ballymoney Borough is some of the best game, and coarse fishing stretches to be found anywhere. This all-you-need-to-know guide provides both the visitor and local angler alike with all the essential information necessary to enjoy fishing a range of acknowledged angling locations for various game and coarse species. 

Information on the various species available, acceptable fishing methods, take limits, open season details and permit and licence requirements are provided as directions to and descriptions of each location featured. 

A Guide to fishing Permits Required – Note : Not official guidance for illustration purposes only

Angling is recognised as having health and social benefits and enhances the quality of life for anglers and rural communities. Ballymoney Borough Council invites you to experience these benefits and enjoy one of the most popular sports in the Borough of Ballymoney.

The directions for each fishing spot described on this page all begin from Main Street, Ballymoney, where you can obtain the relevant licences and permits. Main Street leads straight from High Street, which is adjacent to the Town Hall.

Map of Areas to Fis in and around Ballymoney

Agivey Bridge

Description: Excellent mix of game and coarse fishing.

Licence & Permit: See the Fish Ballymoney brochure.

Species: Trout, Pike, Roach, Perch, Bream, Hybrids, Eels.

Methods: All Legal Methods.

Season: All year round.

How to get there:

Turn right at the traffic lights onto Castle Street and straight onto the B66 Bann Road, and after approximately 3.5 miles is the Agivey Bann Bridge.

Altnahinch Reservoir

Species: Brown trout and Rainbow Trout.

Season: 1st March – 20th October.

Methods: Fly fishing, spinning and worm fishing

Limits: 4 fish bag limit per day.

Boats: Fishing from boats is not permitted

Licence: Fishery Conservancy Board Game Licence.

Permit: DCAL Game Fishing Permit.


Altnahinch Reservoir, at the head of the River Bush, is in an exposed area of peaty moorland, although much of the surrounding area has been forested. The banks are reasonably solid and ideal for shore fishing. The bay at the head of the reservoir can be sheltered and has a deep channel easily covered from the southwestern shore.

Getting there:

From Ballymoney, take the B16 through Kilraughts. At the end of the road, turn left onto the A44. Take the second right in Drones to Ballyhoe Bridge. Turn right, fork left and right just before Knocklavrinnen Bridge onto the Altnahinch Road.

Ballymoney River

Description: Renowned for its trout fishing.

Licence: Fishery Conservancy Board Game Licence.

Permit: DCAL Game Fishing Permit.

Species: Salmon, Sea Trout and Brown Trout.

Methods: Fly Worm and Spinning.

Bag Limit: 10 inches for Trout. Salmon: 2 fish bag limit per day.

Season: 1 March – 31 October.

How to get there:

Turn right at the traffic lights onto Castle Street and B66 Bann Road. A right turn onto either Ballybrakes Road, Nenagh Road, Drumahiskey Road and Glenstaff Road, which are all before the Agivey Bann Bridge, will lead to the Ballymoney River.

Ballymoney Burn

Nearest Towns: Ballymoney, Coleraine & Kilrea

Area: Causeway Coast, Co. Antrim.

Species: Brown trout, SeaTrout Dollaghan and Salmon.

Season: 1st March – 20th October.

Methods: All legal methods of fishing are permitted.

Limits: 10 inches for Trout Salmon: 2 fish bag limit per day.

Boats: Bann System Ltd. Tel (028) 7034 4796.

License: Fishery Conservancy Board Game Licence.

Permit: Bann System Ltd. Game.


Ballymoney Burn is a small river renowned for its trout fishing. It flows through the famous market town of Ballymoney and is the only fishable river on the east bank of the Lower Bann. The best trout fishing is around Balnamore. There is no formal club operating on the river, but the services of the ghillie can be obtained.

Getting there:

The River Bann flows in a northerly direction and parallels with the A54, under-cutting the A6, A42, B64, B66 and the A2 roads. All are easily recognised from Ordnance survey road maps.

Carnroe & Betts

Description: World famous Salmon stretch.

Licence: Fishery Conservancy Board Game Licence.

Permit: Day tickets available from Bann System Ltd. Tel: 028 7034 4796.

Species: Salmon, Sea Trout and Brown Trout.

Methods: All legal methods allowed except trolling and maggots.

Bag Limit:

No Salmon may be killed before 1st June, and after that, any day ticket holder may kill a maximum of 2 fish daily. A half-day ticket holder may kill only one fish. Bag limit exclusive to each angler.

Season: 30 April – 14 October.

How to get there:

Turn right at the traffic lights onto Castle Street and B66 Bann Road. After approximately 2.5 miles, turn to Vow Road (the 5th road on the left after the traffic mentioned above). Continue on the Vow Road for about 3 miles until the two large vertical concrete drainpipes on the right-hand side mark the entrance to Carnroe. Please note that only Permit Holders can use this access lane.

Kilrea Bridge & Portneal

Description: Excellent mix of game and coarse fishing.

Licence & Permit: See the Fish Ballymoney brochure.

Species: Trout, Pike, Roach, Perch, Bream, Hybrids, Eels.

Methods: All legal methods.

Season: 1 March – 31 October.

How to get there:

Turn right at the traffic lights onto Castle Street and B66 Bann Road. Take the 2nd road on the left, the B62 Finvoy Road (signposted Rasharkin/Kilrea). Continue for approximately 5.75 miles, then take the right turn onto the B70 Ballymaconnelly Road, signposted Kilrea. At the end of this road, turn right onto another Bann Road and continue on this road until the Kilrea Bridge (which is traffic light controlled). Portneal is immediately after the bridge on the left-hand side.

Movanagher Canal

Description: Excellent coarse angling stretch.

Licence & Permit: See the Fish Ballymoney brochure.

Species: Pike, Roach, Perch, Bream, Hybrids, Eels.

Methods: All legal methods.

Season: All year round.

How to get there:

Turn right at the traffic lights onto Castle Street and B66 Bann Road. After approximately 2.5 miles, turn right into Vow Road (the 5th road on the left after the traffic mentioned above lights). Continue on the Vow Road for approximately 4.5 miles until the lane on the right with a sign for Movanagher Fish Farm is reached. Turn into this access lane. There is a small carpark on the left.

River Bush

Nearest Towns: Bushmills, Ballymoney and Armoy.

Area: Causeway Coast, Co.Antrim.

Species: Brown Trout and Salmon.

Season: 1st March – 20th October.

Methods: All legal Methods.

Limits: 10inch for Trout. Salmon: 2 fish bag limit per day.

Restrictions: No Maggot.

Licence: Fishery Conservancy Board Game Licence.

Permit: DCAL Game Fishing Permit.

Disabled Access: Excellent on the town beat between the two bridges.


The River Bush is a beautifully managed salmon fishery. The river enjoys a good run of fish each year. The town beat has several purpose-built and named pools and carefully ordered banks suitable for fly-fishing. The river extends quite several miles into the beautiful countryside near Ballymoney and past Armoy. The river has a good resident stock of wild brown trout. There is excellent angling water above and below the village of Stranocum.

Getting there:

The River Bush is well indicated on the OS Holiday Map (Ireland North) from the river source Magherahoney, through Armoy A44 and past Stranocum B147, flowing under the B66 and B57 makes its way to Bushmills and on to the sea.

Cycle Routes Around Ballymoney

Cycling Ballymoney (1)

Historic Country Cycles

There are several cycle routes to choose from where you can enjoy the beautiful rural countryside and explore many of the historical sites Ballymoney Borough offers.

The Bush

The Bush Cycle Route Ballymoney

An 18-mile cycle that starts and finishes at the Joey Dunlop Centre takes in the village of Stranocum and the Dark Hedges, a group of three-hundred-year-old trees reputedly haunted by a spectral grey lady and form an arc over the road. This cycle also takes in Stranocum Hall, built in the 18th Century, and the Old Graveyard at Kilraughts, which dates back to the 17th Century.

Distance: 23 Miles

Starting Point: Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre


Turn right onto Garryduff Road, then left onto Glenlough Road. Cross over the A26 – take extra care. At the next crossroads, turn left onto Boyland Road. Go straight over the next crossroads, continuing on Boyland Road. At the end of the road, turn right onto Kirk Road and continue through Stranocum Village and up the brae past the school. Turn right at Gracehill Golf Course onto Bregagh Road and up through the trees (known locally as the Dark Hedges). Go straight over the crossroads and descend to another crossroads. Turn right onto Gracehill Road, continue along, then turn left up Kingariff Road. At the top of the road, turn right onto Fivey Road. The minute you get past the houses, turn left onto Cregagh Road. At the end of the road, turn right onto Kilraughts Road. At Kilraughts Reformed Presbyterian Church, turn left onto Loughabin Road. At the crossroads, go straight over still on Loughabin Road, turn right into Tummock Road, then turn left onto Glenlough Road. Go straight across at the crossroads. Then straight over at the junctions with the A26 – take extra care. Continue to the end of Glenlough Road and turn right onto Garryduff Road and the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre.

The Fisheries

The Fisheries Cycle Route Ballymoney

Starting at the Drumagheglis Marina, this 15-mile cycle takes you through the historic villages of Bendooragh and Balnamore. There are several historical points of interest to look out for along the way, including an earthen mound on Glenstall road, the Linen Mill at Balnamore, and Movanagher in 1615, the London mercers company managed the ford, fishery and surrounding farmland and built a fortified bawn. These sites are on private land and can only be accessed with the owner’s permission.

Distance: 15 Miles

Starting Point: Drumaheglis Marina


Turn right onto Glenstall Road and continue to the end of the road. Turn left onto Bann Road and immediately right onto Vow Road.
After passing the Anglers Rest pub/restaurant, the Movanagher Fish The farm is a few hundred yards further on the right-hand side. Continue on Vow Road and then turn left onto Bendooragh Road. Continue along this road to Bendooragh Village. Go straight over the crossroads onto Drumahiskey Road, into Balnamore Village, and continue. Turn right into Glenstall Road and continue to the entrance of Drumaheglis Marina.

The Craigs

The Craigs Cycle Route Ballymoney

This 18-mile cycle starting and finishing at the Joey Dunlop Centre takes you on a scenic rural trip taking in many ancient sites on Long Mountain, such as the Broad Stone and Craigs Dolmen, which are Stone Age Graves. A well-preserved Stone Age Grave can also be visited at Dooeys Cairn near Dunloy. However, these sites are on private land and can only be accessed with the owner’s permission.

Distance: 21 Miles

Starting Point: Joey Dunlop Liesure Centre


Turn right onto Garryduff Road, then right onto Lislagan Road, and turn left at the crossroads onto Bravallen Road. At the crossroads, go straight over. At the T-junction, turn right onto Tullaghans Road, then turn left onto Mullan Road. Pass Craigs Dolmen on the right and then Craigs Wood. Turn left onto Glenbuck Road and descend to the crossroads at Bridge Pub. Turn left onto Bridge Road and continue into Dunloy Village. Turn left onto Tullaghans Road and continue uphill until you turn right into Bravallen Road. Go straight over at the crossroads and continue descending to the next crossroads, where you turn right onto Lislagan Road. At the T-junction, turn left and continue to the Joey
Dunlop Leisure Centre.

The Mill

The Mills Cycle Route Ballymoney

This short 5-mile cycle begins at the Drumaheglis Marina and takes in the villages of Macfin and Balnamore, and passes the entrance to Leslie Hill Farm. Historical points of interest to look out for along the way include the River Bann at Drumaheglis, where archaeologists have discovered evidence that Mesolithic people built settlements here.

Distance: 4.5 Miles

Starting Point: Drumaheglis Marina


Turn left onto Glenstall Road at the T-junction, turn right over the railway and continue through MacFin Village. Take a right turn at the crossroads into Taughey Road (or continue straight ahead for 3/4 mile to visit Leslie Hill Open Farm, which is on the right-hand side). Following the Taughey Road, continue to the next T-junction making a right turn onto Balnamore Road. Continue through Balnamore Village to the next T-junction, looking out for the chimney at Balnamore Mill. Turn right into Glenstall Road and continue to the entrance of the marina.

The Castle

The Castle Cycling Route Ballymoney

Starting and finishing at the Joey Dunlop Centre, this cycle will take you past several places of historical interest. On the right, after you pass Knockahollet School, are the remains of a Norman Motte & Bailey Forte. A Bronze Age Burial was also found on this site. Also, on the route, you will pass Lissauer Castle and the Hill at Kilraughts First Presbyterian Church, the gathering place for an army of 5000 United Irishmen in 1798.

For more information on these cycles, including a map and directions, see the Cycle Ballymoney Brochures.

Distance: 19.5 Miles

Starting Point: Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre


Turn right onto Garryduff Road, then left onto Glenlough Road. Go straight over the A26 – be extra careful. Go straight to the next crossroads, continuing on the Glenlough Road and crossing the railway line. At the T-junction, turn right onto Tummock Road. At the end of the road, turn right onto Loughabin Road. At the crossroads, turn left onto Knockahollet Road. Continue to the crossroads and go straight over – take extra care. Continue to follow Knockahollet Road as it skirts Lissanoure Estate. Turn left onto Ballyveely Road. Continue to the crossroads where you turn left onto Pharis Road. At the crossroads, go straight over – take extra care. Turn left onto Moor Road. At the crossroads, go straight over, still on the Moor Road. Take care descending towards First Kilraughts Reformed Presbyterian Church. At the T-junction,turn left onto Moyan Road. Continue and turn right into Pinehill Road. At the T-junction, turn right onto Lisboy Road. At the crossroads, turn left onto Loughabin Road. Turn right onto Tummock Road. Turn left onto Glenlough Road, recrossing the railway line. Go straight over the crossroads and, with extreme care, go straight over the next crossroads with the A26, still on Glenlough Road. Turn right onto Garryduff Road and back to Joey Dunlop Centre.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park Cycle Map Ballymoney

For a leisurely cycling experience, why not bring the family along to Ballymoney’s very own Riverside Park, situated right in the heart of the town,
Causeway Coast & Glens Council has provided several shared-use paths suitable for pedestrians and disabled users, and cyclists.

A one-kilometre, three-metre wide path has been established from Park Centre, adjacent to the main car park at Armour Avenue, to Bravallen Road, which is an excellent facility, particularly for younger children and beginners.

A second shared-use path has been established through the Rodeing Foot Wood and is accessible by crossing through the underpass below the Ballymena Road and taking the first accommodation bridge on the left. Follow this path to the tunnel under the railway, where a right turn leads to the A26 bypass, which swings left onto Kirk Road.

Following Kirk Road along to Greengage Lane will complete a circular loop. Turn left into Greengage and follow the lane downhill towards Greengage Cottages back to the railway tunnel on your right and re-entry into Rodeing Foot Wood. Most non-shared use paths in Riverside Park are also suitable for cycling but remember, pedestrians on foot and other path users should always be given the right of way.

So why not bring the whole family down to Riverside Park soon for a truly pleasant cycling experience and enjoy the other facilities on offer, including a first-class play area, duck pond and wildfowl sanctuary

Distance: 2 mles

Starting Point: Armour Ave

National Cycle Route 96

National Cycle Route 96 Ballymoney

National Route 96 of the National Cycle Network runs through Coleraine and Ballymoney and connects with the Causeway Coast Cycle Route.

This route formerly ran from the top of Lough Neagh to Coleraine on the North Antrim coast. However, as much of it was on busy roads, it is now two separate sections of urban cycling in Ballymoney and the University town of Coleraine.

Ballymoney is one of the oldest towns in Ireland with many historic buildings in the town centre. The route runs along the Ballymoney River through Riverside Park, which is traffic-free.

Coleraine sits on the River Bann, and to the east of the town is Mountsandel Forest, which contains the Mount Sandel fort, an ancient site claimed as the oldest site of human settlement in Ireland. The route here runs along a stretch of the River Bann, parallel to Strand Road and is also traffic-free.

The Causeway Gateway route is mainly flat and traffic-free, so it is suitable for all abilities, whether you’re walking, wheeling or cycling.

Distance: 5 Miles

Starting Point: Ballymoney Train Station

Nearby routes

For more experienced cyclists, Route 96 connects with the Causeway Coast Cycle Route, part of NCN 93, but note that most of this is on-road.

Meadows & Moorlands cycle route

Cycling on the quiet country roads is an ideal way to explore Ballymoney and its surrounding villages.

The main cycle route links Ballymoney to the meadows and moorlands of North County Antrim. The area has a variety of raths, mottes and standing stones, testimony to an earlier age.

The route is best travelled in an anti-clockwise direction as this gives the best views of the villages and Antrim plateau. The route mainly uses country lanes, but care should be taken whilst crossing main roads and on the short sections of ‘B’ roads near Ballymoney. From Ballymoney town centre go east, crossing over the river and railway line, towards Dunaghy.

From here, the route turns south easterly and uses minor roads through rich farmland in the direction of Cloughmills. After a short climb, the route descends towards Loughguile, passing the picturesque Lisanoure Estate with its lake and old castle set among beautiful woodland.

After Loughguile, the route reaches its highest point at 185m, where superb views can be had of the Maine and Bush river valleys and distant forests. The return journey affords pleasant views of the River Bush and passes near the picturesque village of Stranocum. On the remainder of the route, keep a watchful eye for remnants of the former railway which ran between Ballycastle and Ballymoney.

Distance: 25 miles

Starting Point: Ballymoney Town Hall

The River Cycle Route

This route along the quiet roads on the East bank of the River Bann provides a great family cycle. From Ballymoney, travel west through Balnamore village towards Drumaheglis Marina and Caravan Park set on the banks of the River Bann. Head south towards Kilrea on the quiet road, which offers good river views. After the Angler’s Rest pub, you may like to leave the route to explore the old canal and weir at the fish farm. To return, take the first left south of the canal and travel north along the parallel inland road, looking across rich farmland with the Antrim Hills in the background. From Bendooragh you can either cycle the busy ‘B’ road to Ballymoney or travel straight ahead to return to Ballymoney via Balnamore.

Distance: 15 miles

Starting Point: Ballymoney Town Hall

Honorary Freemen of Ballymoney

Honorary Freemen

The title ‘Honorary Freeman’ is the highest award a council can grant to an organisation or individual to record its appreciation of outstanding achievement. Ballymoney Borough Council has conferred the title only eight times since 1973, which demonstrates the importance of the title. Four individuals and four organisations are closely associated with the borough. The conferral ceremony is formal to reflect the dignity of the title.

Mr Joey Dunlop, OBE

The Freedom of the Borough was conferred on Mr Joey Dunlop on 29th September 1993 in recognition of the great honour brought to the Borough through the outstanding skill and courage by which he gained, as a racing motorcyclist of world renown, five Formula One Championships, and a record of fifteen wins in the Isle of Man T.T. races.

Background and History

In a career that brought him success on most of the motorcycling world’s outstanding circuits, Joey Dunlop remained the quiet, cheerful, unaffected man from Ballymoney. He made no boasts, issued no threat, avoided the headlines and concentrated on getting on with the job. Joey, ‘The King of the Roads, became the most successful rider of all time through courage and ambition.

In addition to winning five Formula One World Championships, he made sporting history by setting a new world record of fifteen wins in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races. His feats were suitably recognised at the highest level by the award to him in 1986 by Her Majesty The Queen of the M.B.E.

Ballymoney Borough Council, in the conferment of the greatest honour available to it, sought to mark the achievements of someone who possibly became its best-known citizen in the 20th century.

Joey Dunlop was killed on Sunday, 2 July 2000, while racing in Estonia.

Dr Robert Dunlop

The Freedom of the Borough was conferred on Dr Robert Dunlop on Monday, 23rd April 2007, in recognition of the great honour he brought to the borough through the exceptional ability, determination and sportsmanship by which he achieved over 100 national and international motorcycle road racing victories, with a historic 15 wins on the North West 200 Circuit.


Robert Dunlop did everything in a meteoric road-racing career, which saw him become the most successful rider at the North West 200 and impact the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster Grand Prix.

In 1994 he suffered a horrendous crash while riding for Honda in the Isle of Man TT, and it looked as though it was curtains on a career which had seemed destined for great things at one time.

Robert broke his right arm and leg and was lucky to be alive. The crash could have finished his career, but Robert had other ideas, and, after intensive surgery and physiotherapy, he was determined to get back on wheels. By 1996, he looked to be as good as ever. He was no longer riding the big machines, which had made him famous, especially the John Player Norton and, of course, the Honda, but concentrated on the 125cc class. Incredible as it may seem, Dunlop regained his form and was soon among the best in the business.

Other TTs followed, as well as wins at the Ulster Grand Prix, but his most significant moment since his crash came last year when he won his beloved North West 200. This win, his first at the race since the 1994 crash on the Island, gave Robert 15 successes on this world-famous course and established that he was still very much in his element when it came to winning big races.

In the view of many, but for his crash in 1994, he could have gone on to win a world title as he won the British 125cc Championship in 1991 at a time when he also won European Championship races at Kirkistown and Holland.

Robert conquered all adversity for a rider who has had a bike specially made for him with the brake on the left-hand side, operated by a thumb grip.

He loved the adrenaline rush that gave him. He loved the limelight. He loved the people and loved racing. No one deserved this award and recognition more than Robert Dunlop. The game won’t be the same without him.

Robert was killed on Thursday 15th May 2008, racing during a practice session for the North West 200

Mrs Mary J Holmes OBE JP

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on Mrs Mary J. Holmes, lately the Mayor of the said Borough, on 30th April 1986, having filled the position of chief citizen faithfully, honourably and distinctively for eight successive years.

Background and History

The Council now records its appreciation of a unique record, covering thirty years of public service to the Borough of Ballymoney and the broader community of Northern Ireland, a record marked at all times by an unfailing concern for and interest in persons of all ages, classes and creeds.

Mrs Mary J. (Mollie) Holmes spent her youth at Colebrene farm, a short distance from the boundary of the present Borough and much of her adult life within the town of Ballymoney. This Council has, then, a particular pleasure in conferring the highest honour in its gift on one whose life has been so closely identified with the historic district of Dalriada.

Mrs Holmes entered local government in May 1955 as the first female Ballymoney Urban District Council member. She was elected and remained an independent member, obtaining by her impartiality, energies and great personal charm the respect and affection of her fellow Councillors and the general public, whatever political stance or opinion. She continued to enjoy the confidence of the electorate until, in May 1985, after thirty years of continuous service in local government, she stepped down from the office of Mayor, which she had held honourably and capably for eight successive years.

As might be expected, her many gifts became known to a broader public beyond the Borough, and she was called upon to serve as a member of several public and voluntary bodies. She thus served, to name but a few at random, the Antrim County Welfare Committee, the Northern Health and Social Services Board, the Association of Local Authorities of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Tourist Development Association, the Northern Group Public Health Committee, the Court of the New University of Ulster, the Northern Ireland Probation Board. Her philanthropic benevolence was and continues to be shown in her work with the Robinson Hospital Committee, the Ballymoney Evergreen Club, the Road Safety Committee and the Royal British Legion.

The contribution made by Mrs Holmes to the public and private life of Northern Ireland in general, and this Borough in particular, was recognised as long ago as 1978 when Her Majesty The Queen was graciously pleased to confer upon the Order of the British Empire. She has been for many years and remains a Justice of the Peace for County Antrim.

Dr Ian R K Paisley, MP, MEP, MLA

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on Dr Ian R K Paisley, MP, MEP, MLA, on 21st October 2000. Dr Paisley has served the community for thirty years as a Member of Parliament for the constituency of North Antrim and twenty-one years as a member of the European Parliament for Northern Ireland.

This Council hereby records its appreciation of this unique electoral record, reorganising the will of the citizens of the borough and further afield; congratulates him on his success; and thanks him for tireless efforts to represent his constituents, without fear or favour, being the voice of the voiceless, serving their interest in all institutions. His unique sense of humour has marked this service, a spirit of generosity and deep concern for the welfare of all his constituents, regardless of class, age or creed.

Background and History

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley was born in the City of Armagh on 6th April 1926, the second son of Rev. James Kyle and Mrs Isabella Paisley. His father was Armagh Baptist Church’s pastor, and a church built mainly through the gospel campaigns he conducted in Armagh and the surrounding towns and villages.

When Ian was just over two years of age, his father received a call to Ballymena Baptist Church, so the family moved from the City of Armagh to the market town of Ballymena, also known as The City of the Seven Towers. In due course, he and his older brother attended the Ballymena Model School, where they received a good grounding in the “three r’s – reading, writing and arithmetic”.

Another event, which significantly impacted Ian’s life, occurred when he was just six years of age. After a children’s meeting conducted by his mother, he received Christ as his Saviour.

His father held evangelistic meetings around County Antrim, and on many occasions, Ian travelled with him and so got to know and love the people he met and early learned to enter into their joys and sorrows. These experiences were to stand him in good stead as life opened up before him.

After attending Ballymena technical college, he intended to enter Agricultural College, so he went to live and work on a farm in County Tyrone. During his time there, he experienced the call of God to enter the Christian ministry and to prepare himself for this call, and he went to the South Wales Bible College in Barry, Glamorgan. After completing his studies there, he entered the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Hall in Belfast and was highly commended for his knowledge of the Word of god. He received a call to be a minister of Ravenhill Evangelical Mission Church, a small independent work on Ravenhill Road.

After labouring there for some years, the building became too small and, eventually, after enlarging the accommodation and for a time hiring the Ulster hall for the Sunday services, a new church had to be erected.

While all this work was going on, the political situation in Ulster was deteriorating. Many people from various parts of Northern Ireland who were greatly concerned visited him and pleaded with him to enter the political arena and champion their cause. To the fore in these pleadings were the people of North Antrim, and after much prayer and soul-searching as well as lengthy discussions with his church elders who gave him their blessing and support, he entered the political fray.

The rest of the story – so far – is history. After winning the seat for Bannside in the Stormont Parliament, a few months later, he also won the North Antrim seat in the Westminster Parliament, a seat he has held successfully and successively since 1970, with a political turnover which is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1979 he contested the first election for the European Parliament, topping the poll, which he has done on all five occasions.

Ian Paisley has never asked anyone to do anything he was unprepared to do. He has been imprisoned on three occasions without thought for himself but because of his dearly held Christian principles and Protestant convictions.

It can truthfully be said of him that he has served all his constituents in North Antrim and throughout Ulster, with fairness and diligence and without fear or favour, in every forum to which he has been elected. In all his endeavours, he has had the full support of his wife and family.

The Northern Ireland Fire Brigade

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade on 4th May 2002 in recognition of its outstanding public service and the devotion to duty of its officers in protecting life and property, often in situations of great personal danger.

Background and History

The present Northern Ireland Fire Brigade came into existence on 1 April 1974. The Fire Brigade serves the whole community. It has its headquarters in Lisburn with area command headquarters in Ballymena, Belfast, Portadown and Londonderry.

The Fire Brigade in Ballymoney

In April 1936, Ballymoney Council, to provide fire services for the town, purchased a trailer pump, essentially a fire pump on a two-wheel chassis pulled by hand, car or lorry to the scene of the fire. The pump served the town until 1942, when the town’s fire services were incorporated into the National Fire Service to provide fire services for the whole of Northern Ireland. Fire services expanded, and by 1943 sixteen personnel were serving at Ballymoney. After the war, fire services were returned to council control, initially the Northern Fire Authority in 1948, then the Northern Ireland Fire Authority in 1950. At this time, Ballymoney station was situated in Townhead Street, using an Austin tender with a Harland trailer pump. In 1954 a new station was opened in Market Street and was equipped with a Dennis F8 Ulster fire engine. In 1989 following a review of fire cover, Ballymoney station was provided with a second fire engine, and firefighting personnel increased to twenty.

Ballymoney firefighters have always served their community with dedication and professionalism, facing many dangers in various operational incidents. Those dangers were graphically brought home with the tragic death of Leading Firefighter Robin Neill at a rescue incident on 9 September 1995. His name is recorded on the memorial statue at Brigade headquarters, where commemorations are regularly held to mark the sacrifices made by Robin and other Northern Ireland firefighters.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary and The Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve on 1st June 1983 in recognition of their Officers’ devotion to duty and service to the people of Northern Ireland.

Background and History

The Royal Ulster Constabulary came into being on 1st June 1922 and was granted the right to bear the “Royal” prefix by King George V.

Until 1970 the strength of the RUC was just under three thousand. In the following decade, there was an intensive recruitment programme. In 1990, the force strength had reached a peak of seven thousand, eight hundred male and female officers, supported in their work by almost five thousand full and part-time members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve.

Throughout its history, the Royal Ulster Constabulary had to contend with periods of serious violence, but none more than during the three decades to 2001. The RUC, like the community, had to pay an appalling price in lives lost and members injured. During this period, three hundred officers were killed, including over one hundred members of the RUC Reserve.

The work of the RUC in the face of continuing violence was reflected in the high number of officers who received awards. From 1969 – 2001, over three hundred members were decorated for gallantry and brave conduct. The list included eleven George Medals, twenty-four British Empire Medals, one hundred and twenty-eight Queen’s Gallantry Medals and fifty-six Queen’s Commendations.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary was awarded the George Cross by Her Majesty the Queen in April 2000 in recognition of its men and women’s collective courage and sacrifice over the years. On 4 November 2001, the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross became the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The Royal British Legion Northern Ireland

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on the Royal British Legion on 22nd February 1997 in recognition of the support given to ex-servicemen and women, their families and their dependents since its establishment in 1921.

Background and History

The Royal British Legion was formed in 1921. Amongst its many objectives, it aims to promote the welfare of ex-servicemen and women and their dependents, relieve hardship among them where it exists, raise and distribute money for these purposes, assist serving men and women in their return to civilian life and promote the interests of their dependents while they are still serving. Under its Royal Charter, the Legion’s help is available to all the categories above, regardless of whether they are its members. This represents some 18 million people, or one-third of the population.

The Legion provides seven residential homes and three convalescent homes; training to NVQ standard in a range of skills and disciplines; advice on setting up small businesses and start-up loans; pilgrimages to war graves worldwide; free advisory service on War and War Widows’ Pension and much more, mainly funded by the Poppy Appeal. The Legion, through its related companies, employs over 2,270 ex-servicemen and women and their dependents, 31 per cent of whom are registered disabled, making the Legion, with its 750,000 members, 3,217 branches and 951 clubs, also act as a social focus for the ex-service community.

The Royal Irish Regiment

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on the Royal Irish Regiment on 12th May 2012 as acknowledgement and thanks to those who have served and continue to serve their country with great distinction at home and abroad.

Background and History

The Royal Irish Regiment (27th Inniskilling, 83rd, 87th and The Ulster Defence Regiment)

Three Centuries of Tradition

In December 1688, the threat of a Jacobite attack on Enniskillen led to the raising of volunteer defence units, some of which were accepted into the Army in 1689. These included an infantry regiment commanded by Zachariah Tiffin. Tiffin’s Inniskillingers fought throughout the campaign in Ireland and survived the postwar reductions to become a permanent unit.

Over the next century, the Inniskillingers saw action across the world. Designated the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment in 1751, they fought in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars alongside several new Irish regiments, including the 83rd, 86th, 87th and 89th Regiments. At Barrosa in March 1811, the 2nd/87th captured the first Napoleonic Eagle ever taken in battle by a British regiment. Their war cry (Fag a Bealach or Clear the Way!), modified to Faugh A Ballagh, became the 87th’s motto.

At Waterloo on 18 June 1815, the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment held the centre of the Allied line against Napoleon, prompting a French general to comment that he had never seen such bravery before. Marking their service in the Peninsular War, the 87th became a Fusilier regiment in 1827 as the 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers).  

The first Victoria Crosses were earned during the Indian Mutiny in the assault on Jhansi on 3 April 1858, when four members of the 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment were decorated for their bravery.

In 1872, regiments were brigaded in pairs and assigned training depots in their recruiting areas in a process that, in 1881, led to the creation of new two-battalion regiments. The 27th (Inniskilling) and 108th (Madras Infantry) Regiment became the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; the 83rd (County of Dublin) and 86th (Royal County Down) the Royal Irish Rifles and the 87th (The Royal Irish Fusiliers) and 89th (Princess Victoria’s) Regiment the Princess Victoria’s (The Royal Irish Fusiliers).

To mark the gallantry of these and other Irish units in the Boer War, Queen Victoria ordered the creation of the Irish Guards and that all Irish regiments wear a shamrock on St Patrick’s Day.

During the Great War, many additional battalions were formed and fought in Gallipoli, Salonika and the Middle East, as well as on the Western Front. Battalions of Inniskillings, Rifles and Irish Fusiliers served in the 10th (Irish), 16th (Irish), 36th (Ulster) and many other divisions. Thirteen Victoria Crosses were earned, including four on one day on 1 July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.

Since there were Leinster, Connaught and Munster regiments, the War Office decided that there should also be an Ulster regiment. The Royal Irish Rifles became the Royal Ulster Rifles on 1 January 1921. In 1937 the London Irish Rifles became a Territorial Army battalion of the Rifles and the only TA battalion of an Irish regiment.

During the Second World War, all three regiments served with distinction on many fronts, from Europe to the Far East. Battalions from each regiment formed 38 (Irish) Brigade, created at the suggestion of Winston Churchill, which fought in the Tunisian, Sicilian and Italian campaigns with particular distinction at Centuripe in Sicily and the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. Both regular battalions of the Royal Ulster Rifles landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944 – D Day – one by air, one over the beaches, a unique distinction.

With Indian independence and the withdrawal from the empire, the Army was reduced considerably after the war, with most regiments losing their second battalions. Further reductions brought about the amalgamation of the three regiments on 1 July 1968 to form The Royal Irish Rangers (27th Inniskilling, 83rd and 87th), a two-battalion regiment.

Over the following 22 years, the Rangers continued the tradition of service. Both battalions served in Northern Ireland on Operation BANNER, where they worked alongside soldiers of the Ulster Defence Regiment, which had been formed in 1970 to protect the province from terrorist activity.  When the end of the Cold War brought further defence reductions, both regiments amalgamated on 1 July 1992 to form The Royal Irish Regiment, with the former UDR battalions becoming Home Service battalions.

The unique service and sacrifice of the UDR and Royal Irish (Home Service) was marked by Her Majesty the Queen’s award of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to the Royal Irish Regiment on 6th October 2006, before the Home Service battalions disbanded in 2007.

With one General Service and one Territorial Army battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment continues to serve wherever it is needed. In recent years, it has served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan with the same élan shown by many generations of Irish soldiers over three centuries.  After the Regiment’s 2008 deployment to Afghanistan, the courage of soldiers of the Regiment was recognised with the award of three Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses and three Military Crosses.  It is now acknowledged as one of the most effective units in the 16 (Air Assault) Brigade.

The Regiment has just returned from its third Afghanistan deployment, perhaps its most successful to date.  Notably, during this most recent tour, the 1 R IRISH Battle Group was engaged in the largest Air Assault operation conducted by the Regiment since its antecedent regiment, the Royal Ulster Rifles, were involved in Operation Varsity to capture the Rhine Crossings in the Spring of 1945.

152 (Ulster) Transport Regiment RLC (V)

The Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney was conferred on the 152 (Ulster) Transport Regiment RLC (V) on 1st September 2012 as acknowledgement and thanks to those who have served and continue to serve their country with great distinction at home and abroad.

The volunteer spirit of the Ulsterman first manifests itself in service with the antecedents of the 152 (Ulster) Transport Regiment during the First World War. The 36th (Ulster) Division Army Service Corps (ASC) was stationed at Annandale Barracks in 1915 and recruited over 4000 men from the local community. The volunteers of the ‘36 Divisional Train,’ as it was affectionately called, supported many battles during World War 1, the most notable being the Battle of Albert in July 1916. 

On 25 November 1918, the ASC was recognised for its contributions during the Great War and awarded the title ‘Royal’, becoming the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC). Some reorganisation took place, and the Territorial Force Companies of the Divisional Train were subsumed elsewhere in the United Kingdom or disbanded. Besides the ‘ask-aka role in Northern Ireland, volunteers saw action in France, Belgium and India. At the end of World War 2, there was further rationalisation, and 601 and 931 (Ulster) Companies RASC (TA) were formed at Victoria Barracks and Girdwood Barracks, respectively, providing logistic support to 107 (Ulster) Infantry Brigade (TA). 

The next major turn in the Regiment’s history was the formation of the Northern Ireland Column RASC (TA) during the reorganisation of the TA in 1961. The unit comprised 931 (Ulster) Company RASC (TA) and a new sub-unit, 538 (Ulster) Company RASC (TA), both based at Sunnyside Street. 540 (Ulster) Company RASC (TA) (complete with Pipes & Drums) was formed in Londonderry from a platoon of 931 Company and a disbanded troop of artillery. 540 Company soon became the recruiting hub for the entire North West. Under the logistic services re-organisation of 1965, the Northern Ireland Column became 68 (Northern Ireland) Regiment Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) (TA), the Companies becoming Squadrons of the new Regiment.

On 01 April 1967, 68 (NI) Regiment RCT (TA) was re-roled as 152 (Ulster) Ambulance Regiment RCT (V). 538 and 931 Squadrons combined to form 220 (Ulster) Ambulance Squadron RCT (V) and 540 Squadron in Londonderry became 211 (Ulster) Ambulance Squadron RCT (V) (with a small detachment at Enniskillen). 601 Company was disbanded to form 400 (Ulster) Heavy Troop RCT (TA). In 1976 400 (Ulster) Heavy Troop RCT (V) was dissolved, and personnel was absorbed mainly into 220 Squadron.

The Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) was formed on 1st April 1993. The Regiment was renamed and re-badged to 152 (Ulster) Ambulance Regiment RLC (V). In 1999, and as part of the Strategic Defence Review, 580 (Cardiff) Ambulance Squadron was amalgamated into the Regiment, the Regiment comprising Headquarters, 211 Transport Squadron, 220 Transport Squadron, 227 HQ Squadron, 580 Transport Squadron and REME Workshops.

Just when we thought the music had stopped, the Army was re-organised to meet Future Army Structures (FAS) and support current operations. 152 (Ulster) Ambulance Regiment was directed to re-role to ‘Heavy Lift’ by no later than 01 April 2008. The Regiment’s title was formally changed to 152 (Ulster) Transport Regiment RLC (V) on 7 July 2007, and the ambulances were exchanged for DROPS vehicles. To receive this vast new fleet, the RHQ, 220 and 227 Squadrons were relocated from Sunnyside Street to Palace Barracks on 01 November 2007 – a heart rendering move after 47 years of successful recruiting at Sunnyside Street. 400 Transport Squadron was reformed at Palace Barracks on 01 November 2007, and 580 Squadron was handed back to The Welsh Transport Regiment on 10 January 2008. We now comprise Headquarters, 211 Transport Squadron, 220 Transport Squadron, 227 HQ Squadron, 400 Transport Squadron, REME LAD and most excellent Pipes & Drums. 

Throughout the timeline of volunteer service in Northern Ireland, the Regiment has received over 20,000 volunteers through its doors. We have remained exceptionally well recruited, and it is nice to see that old soldiers and Regiments never really die – we are now a Regiment named after 152 company of the Divisional Train and comprising Squadrons that supported 36 (Ulster) and 16 (Irish) Divisions at the Somme – we have come full circle.

Soldiers and officers from the Regiment have participated in every significant land operation in various theatres worldwide. These include Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, the Falklands, the Gulf, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout our timeline, 514 volunteers have been injured or killed for the freedom that we and other nations enjoy or would wish to enjoy. The Regiment currently has soldiers deployed with 4 Logistic Support Regiment RLC in Afghanistan. It is very much down to the motivation of the Regiment’s personnel, the support of spouses, employers, the local community and the chain of command that we have been able to generate such worthwhile military capability, and we are most grateful.

The Regiment continues to flourish and will continue to support our Regular counterparts wherever we are needed. As Defence transforms, we will in-turn transform; 152 (Ulster) Transport Regiment embraces the volunteer ethos in Northern Ireland and demonstrates why we, as one Army, are so successful.

Famous Faces of Ballymoney

60._Joey_Dunlop_750cc_Honda_1990 (1)

Joey Dunlop – Motorcycling Legend

William Joseph Dunlop was born at Culduff, near Ballymoney, on 25 February 1952. His career as a motorcycle road racer is unrivalled and earned him an MBE in 1986. He inspired loyalty from a legion of fans spread over every continent. Exhaustive humanitarian work set him apart from any sportsman of his day, and for this, he was awarded an OBE in 1996. The ‘King of the Roads’ was one of the most remarkable men of his generation.

Joey began racing in 1969 and, within a few years, had established a reputation as an exciting and talented rider. With his colleagues in the Armoy Armada, he began to win trophies at circuits and road races throughout the British Isles. When his life was tragically cut short in Estonia in 2000, he had amassed a staggering 26 TT wins at the Isle of Man and 13 at the NW200. Joey may never surpass his achievements with five World Championships and over 160 other victories.

Robert Dunlop – The Mighty Macro

At 17 years old, Robert Dunlop followed his older brother, Joey, into motorcycle racing. While Joey was becoming a world champion, Robert gathered valuable experience racing on the road circuits of Ireland.

His first win was at Fore, Co. Westmeath, in 1980. Two years later, he won the 125cc race at the Mid-Antrim 150. His local success attracted the attention of significant teams, and in 1990, he signed for JPS Norton. 

Robert was outstanding on a 125cc bike. At the peak of his career, he dominated this class for two consecutive years, beating all challengers at the North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix and Isle of Man TT in 1990 & 1991.

In 1994, Robert suffered the crash that would end his chance of fulfilling his potential as a world champion. It was two years before he raced again.

Overcoming terrible injuries, Robert showed the determination that made him a hero to many. He was back on the podium by the end of the season.

Robert’s last major win was at the North West 200 in 2006. This was his 15th victory at the circuit, and he remains the most successful rider at the Triangle. Tragically, it was also here that Robert was killed during practice on Thursday, 15 May 2008.

Robert was named Enkalon Motorcyclist of the Year twice, first in 1987 and again in 1991. He was awarded Freedom of the Borough of Ballymoney in 2007.

Archibald Hutchinson – Politician & Attorney General from Stranocum

The only son of Archibald and Christian Hutchinson of Stranocum, Archibald led a colourful life building a successful career and a sizable fortune. As a young man, he established himself as a meticulous lawyer in England. By the age of 29, he was fortunate to be offered the position of Attorney General of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Ocean.

He is most renowned for investigating the South Seas Company financial scandal of 1720, which caused the first collapse of the British financial markets and nearly bankrupted England. Hutchinson is credited with approaching the crisis with calmness and reason.

Archibald Hutchinson is also remembered for the confusion that followed his death. In his Will, he left £17,000 to his ‘poor relatives in Ireland’. Despite his legal experience, using such broad terminology meant that his legacy was not settled for nearly 60 years. The disorder surrounding the ‘Hutchinson Bequest’ even led to a particular Act of Parliament. He is buried in St James’ Church in Westminster.

George McCartney – The first British Ambassador to China

Born at Lissanoure Castle, Loughguile, on 14 May 1737, George Macartney was one of the most celebrated diplomats of his time.

Throughout his life, he held high-profile diplomatic positions before securing his most prominent position as the first British Ambassador to China. These included: British Ambassador to Russia, where he was a friend of Catherine the Great; Chief Secretary of Ireland; Governor of Grenada, the Grenadines and Tobago; Governor of Madras, India.

Despite his success, he encountered a few setbacks. In 1779, he was captured by the French, who took over the colonies. He was later exchanged for a French prisoner held in British hands. This episode caused Macartney to lose almost all his possessions, leaving him penniless.

He returned to live at Lissanoure on several occasions throughout his life, where he lived with his wife, Lady Jane Stuart, daughter of the British Prime Minister. In 1798, weary of travelling and suffering ill health in his advancing years, Macartney returned home a final time. He died in Chiswick, London, on 31 March 1806, where he is buried. 

Rev. James Armour – Champion of Home Rule

As a clergyman, it is perhaps a surprise that ‘Armour of Ballymoney’ was one of the most prominent political figures to emerge from North Antrim at the turn of the twentieth century.

James Brown Armour was born at Lisboy, near the town of Ballymoney, on 20 January 1841. In 1869 Armour was appointed minister at Second Ballymoney (known as Trinity) Presbyterian Church, where he served until his retirement in 1925. 

Armour was an enthusiastic supporter of the Tenant Rights Campaign, which, when granted by the Government in 1881, allowed tenants to become owner-occupiers of the land they worked.

He is renowned for his support of Home Rule in Ireland. Although initially opposed to the idea, he later believed that Home Rule was the best solution for Ireland. It would boost the Irish economy and bring reconciliation between Protestants and Roman Catholics. He organised a public meeting in Ballymoney in 1913 to build support amongst the local Protestant population but had little success.

Armour was married to Jennie Stavely Hamilton, a widow who already had two sons; with her, he had three sons of his own. He died of pneumonia on 25 January 1928.

George Shiels – Popular playwright

George Shiels was one of the most popular Irish playwrights of the early twentieth century. In the days before, people had televisions, and many homes didn’t even have a radio, a play by Shiels could pack the stalls and galleries of any theatre in Ireland.

Shiels was born on 24 June 1881 at Ballybrakes, Ballymoney. He spent some years in America before returning to Ballymoney in 1908, where he opened a travel and shipping company.

He began writing poems and short stories published in local newspapers and magazines. Soon he was writing plays for the Ulster Literary Theatre. His work appealed to local audiences as it was set in Co. Antrim, with plenty of Ulster humour. 

His best-known plays include ‘The Passing Day’ and ‘The New Gossoon’. In 1940, at the height of his fame, his play “The Rugged Path” was seen by 40,000 people over three months at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Ironically, for a long time, the one place where you could not see a Shiels play was in Ballymoney! After one drama group decided to spice up a script with swear words, causing much offence, Shiels banned productions of his plays here.

Jame Young – Comedian

James Young will be known to the people of Ulster by many names, including Derek, the window cleaner & Wee Sammy. Thirty years ago, he was one of Northern Ireland’s best-loved comedians and actors.  

James Young was born in Union Street, Ballymoney, in 1918. When he was only six months old, his family moved to Belfast. A plaque can be seen outside the house where he briefly lived.

At the age of 15, he began his stage career. He joined a theatre company and moved to England. By 1949, he was back home and had a big hit as Derek, the window cleaner, in a BBC radio show called ‘The McCooeys’. This launched Jimmy as a local star, and he was soon writing his comedy shows and filling theatres across the country.

Jimmy was offered his radio show, ‘The Young Idea’. He invented new characters, such as Wee Ernie, from the Belfast Shipyard, Mrs O’Condriac, who was always ill, and Wee Sammy, the naughty boy.

He toured theatres all over Ireland, Canada and America, sold thousands of records and had his television show. Sadly, Jimmy Young died of a heart attack on 5 July 1974.

Kennedy McArthur – Olympic Gold Medalist

On Sunday, 14 July 1912, the name of K.K. McArthur was added to Olympic history when he triumphed in South African colours in Stockholm, Sweden. However, nowhere was McArthur’s marathon victory celebrated with more pride than in his birthplace, the village of Dervock.

Kennedy Kane McArthur was born in Dervock on 10 February 1881. It wasn’t until after he emigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, that he began to pursue a career in athletics.

The Stockholm Olympic marathon took place in the sweltering heat. As he reached the finish line, McArthur was suffering badly from fatigue. Almost collapsing, he heard a voice from the crowd urging him on in a familiar accent:

“Come on, Antrim, come on, ye boy ye!”

It was enough to give McArthur the boost he needed to win first place. McArthur was welcomed home by a considerable crowd and brought to the Town Hall, where a large bronze plaque was unveiled in his honour.

He was forced to retire due to injury. He made many return visits to Dervock and settled there. He died in South Africa aged 79. His trophies and memorabilia can be seen today at the Potchefstroom Museum.

 Robert Hannah – New Zealand business tycoon

Although not a name is well known around Ballymoney, everyone has heard of Robert Hannah’s shoes in his adopted home of New Zealand.

Robert was born on 10 September 1845 on the Hannah family farm near Ballymoney. In his early years, he was apprenticed to a cobbler in Kilrea before emigrating to Australia in 1863.

In 1868, he opened his first boot shop in the town of Charleston, where the gold rush had enticed many prospectors. He later moved to Wellington, where his business rapidly expanded and by 1897, he had ten branches of his store on the North Island. 

At one time, he commanded half the shoe trade in New Zealand. He gained the reputation of a ‘shrewd, hard businessman’, although he was greatly respected by his staff, who were well paid. 

In 1904, he built a new home for his family, a luxurious Edwardian mansion named ‘Antrim House’. Robert Hannah died in 1930, aged 85, and his business continues today. Some of his descendants still live in the Ballymoney area. In 1978, ‘Antrim House’ was presented to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which uses it today as its national administrative headquarters.

William McKinley – 25th President of the USA

William McKinley was the President of the United States of America from 1897-1901. He led his country into the twentieth century, overcoming war and economic crisis, before his assassination on 14 September 1901.

His great grandfather, James McKinley, emigrated from the townland of Conagher, near Dervock, in 1743. He settled in Niles, Ohio, where William McKinley was born on 29 January 1843. In 1877, McKinley began his political career in Washington as a Republican Congressman and later became Ohio State Governor. 

In 1897, a comfortable majority elected William McKinley to the presidential office. Under his presidency, America asserted itself in the global arena. In 1900, American troops were sent to China to help quell the “Boxer Rebellion”, fighting alongside European and Japanese armies. McKinley also opened economic negotiations with China and established an ‘Open Door Policy under which American trade prospered.

Shortly after being re-elected for a second Presidential term, William McKinley was assassinated at Buffalo, Ohio, on 6 September 1901. McKinley was the last Civil War veteran to become President. He is considered a decisive statesman who helped the United States become a significant player on the world stage.

Samuel Robinson – Chainstore millionaire

Samuel Robinson was born on 9 June 1865 at Culcrum, near Cloughmills. He served an apprenticeship with his uncle, William James Megaw (Chairman of Ballymoney Urban District Council 1888-1920), who was a grocer and coal merchant in Ballymoney. 

In 1888, Robinson emigrated to Philadelphia. He formed a partnership with Robert H. Crawford and went into the grocery business there. In 1917, he established the American Stores Company and revolutionised how people shopped. Many of his ideas are things which today we take for granted. For example, he displayed all the goods on shelves for the customer to browse through; he bought the land surrounding his shops to give customers free parking spaces and provided trolleys for shoppers to carry their goods.

The American Stores Company (or ACME) had shops across the continent, and Robinson was soon a very wealthy man. Back home in Ballymoney, in 1933, he paid for the Robinson Memorial Hospital to be built in memory of his late parents.

Samuel Robinson always remembered and loved his home in Co. Antrim and retained strong connections throughout his life.

Samuel McClure – American publisher

Samuel S. McClure was born at his grandfather’s house at the Frosses, near the familiar rows of fir trees. In 1866, the McClure family emigrated to Quebec, Canada, where Samuel spent his teenage years working on the family farm. 

He was educated at Knox College, Illinois, and then worked for a time at a cycle firm, where he was asked to edit a newly launched cycle magazine called The Wheelman. While working for Century Magazine in New York, he quickly developed a new concept of syndicating fiction, an idea that would make him his fortune. McClure realised he could sell new pieces of serialised fiction to the newspapers.

McClure set up America’s first newspaper syndicate in 1884 and quickly introduced millions of American readers to the early works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling. In 1889, McClure bought the first twelve Sherlock Holmes stories for £12 each. He is also credited with discovering Rudyard Kipling when he purchased the rights to serialise The Jungle Book.

McClure never forgot his Co, Antrim roots, returning on at least two occasions to visit family and friend

Historic Sites Around Ballymoney

Ballymoney Town Hall

In 1863, the people of Ballymoney began planning a new civic building. It was to be known as the new Assembly Rooms and would include a library or reading room, chambers for the Town Commissioners, a public function room and a display area for the town’s museum.

To pay for the construction, £1,300 was raised by public subscription, and a substantial amount was collected through a fundraising Bazaar.

The building has provided an invaluable service to this community since it opened in August 1866.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Assembly Rooms had become known as the Town Hall. By 1932, the Town hall needed urgent restoration and repairs, and work began on £6,000 worth of renovations. The Town Hall was re-opened by the Honourable Mr Justice Megaw on Friday, 16 February 1934.

The Town Hall was now fortunate to have a magnificent stage in the main hall, which the local town guide book later described as “perhaps the best small theatre in the Province”. This became the venue for the still famous Ballymoney Drama Festival, launched within a fortnight of the Town Hall’s official re-opening.

In 2005, the Town Hall was restored, with a new museum and tourist information centre added to the rear of the building. It continues to be an essential amenity for the entire community.

Chi-Rho Stone

Chi Rhon Stone Near Ballymoney

This ancient standing stone is carved on two faces with the symbols ‘Chi’ and ‘Rho’, the first two letters of the name ‘Christ’ in Greek.

Chi-Rho stones are rare in Ireland and are more commonly seen in parts of Europe. To find this design carved in a local stone demonstrates that followers of the early church in this region had links with Christian communities overseas and knew Greek.

Another quality that makes this stone unique is that the Chi-Rho symbol on its opposite face has been reversed.

The stone is believed to have originally stood on a ridge in a nearby townland before being moved to its present site.  It is known locally as ‘Old Patrick’.  Local tradition states that it commemorates a visit by Saint Patrick, who inscribed the symbol on the stone with the tip of his finger.

The Chi-Rho Stone is on private land and cannot be accessed without the owner’s permission.

Megalithic Tombs

During the Neolithic Period (4,500-2,500BC), people began ritualising death and building large stone tombs.  It is believed that the tombs were used to bury essential people from their communities, and approximately 1600 have been recorded in Ireland.

These tombs are remarkable for many reasons.  Of particular interest are the vast stones (or megaliths) used to construct them.  The megaliths were often carried a considerable distance to the site of the tomb. They were probably transported along rivers and then drawn to the site by rolling them over logs – it would be hundreds of years until the wheel would be used in Ireland.

Archaeological excavations have revealed a variety of artefacts at megalithic tombs.  These have included axe heads, flint arrows, stone beads and pottery. It is thought that these artefacts were associated with death rituals. They may have been buried to help the deceased in the afterlife, or they may have reflected how important the individual was in the community. They may have been tokens chosen by the community to show their cultural or family bond with the individual.

Dooeys Cairn

Dooeys Cairn Near Ballymoney

A Neolithic tomb dating from c.4000-2000 BC.   This is the best-preserved court tomb in the Causeway Coast area.  It is named after Andrew Dooey, who owned the land. His family granted it to the government in 1975.

It was excavated twice, in 1935 and 1975. It consists of a U-shaped forecourt that leads into a small chamber. Behind the chamber is a cremation passage containing three pits, one of which held the remains of five or six individuals. This form of cremation passage is the only one of its type found in Ireland.

During the excavations, archaeologists discovered various artefacts, e.g. polished axe heads, flint arrows and decorated pottery. Evidence of cereal seeds was also found, implying that early forms of agriculture had been introduced into this region at the time of the burials.

Dooey’s Cairn is maintained by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and is accessible to the public.

The Broad Stone – Nr Long Mountain

The Broad Stone Near Long Mountain Ballymoney

The Broad Stone is a three-chambered court tomb with a shallow semi-circular forecourt. It is situated on the west side of Long Mountain, near Rasharkin. In the past, it was widely believed that precious artefacts had been buried in the tomb and treasure hunters disturbed much of the ground surrounding the megalithic stones. As a result, in 1883, the tomb collapsed, and locals had to rebuild it and reposition the capstone – the reconstructed tomb now resembles a ‘dolmen’ or portal tomb.

During penal times, Roman Catholics celebrated Mass here. The site was also popular for public gatherings, picnics and games.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency maintains the Broad Stone. It is on private land and cannot be visited without the landowner’s permission

Craigs Dolmen

Craigs Dolmen has situated a short distance from the Broad Stone, on the eastern slopes of the Bann Valley. It is a passage tomb consisting of a single oval chamber formed by upright stones which support a capstone.

The tomb was previously almost covered with earth, with only the capstone exposed. A cinerary urn was discovered in the burial chamber when the soil was removed to expose the tomb.

By 1940, one of the upright stones had fallen.  In 1985, this stone was restored, the tomb was reconstructed, and an archaeological excavation discovered cremated bone and more pottery.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency maintains Craigs Dolmen. It is on private land and cannot be visited without the landowner’s permission


Moneycannon Rath Ringfort Near Ballymoney

A ringfort is a circular enclosure surrounded by a raised earthen embankment and a ditch or moat. It is estimated that there are over 45,000 ringforts in Ireland, making them the most common ancient monument on the Island.

The majority were occupied between 600–900AD.  The earliest ringforts date from the 5th century, while others were occupied until as late as the 13th century. Their function was to protect small settlements consisting of a family, workers, and livestock against raids.  They would have been effective at repelling the lightning cattle raids that were common during the Early Christian period in Ireland (c.400-1200AD).

Several well-preserved examples of ringforts in the Ballymoney area include Benvarden, Moneycannon and Stranocum.

Excavations at Irish ringforts have uncovered a range of finds, including wheel-made pottery, glass beads, bronze & iron pins and bone, antler & metalwork.

Traditionally, ringforts were believed to be ritual sites or associated with supernatural forces, such as fairies or ‘wee folk’.


Knockahollet Hill Fort Near Ballymoney

Motte and bailey castles were built by Anglo-Norman settlers in the period after they invaded Ulster in 1177.  Many of them survive throughout the east of Ireland. While Earls lived in large stone castles, such as at Carrickfergus, their chief tenants, the Barons, lived in these smaller fortified dwellings.

The ‘motte’ was a large mound of earth with a flat platform on which a wooden tower was erected. A wooden palisade protected the forum. The ‘bailey’, or courtyard, was an embanked enclosure at the foot of the mound where most of the inhabitants would live.

The bailey would probably have contained buildings, e.g. a hall, large chamber, and barns. Few Irish mottes were built with a bailey, unlike those found in England or Europe. Those with baileys tend to be situated in regions where the inhabitants were at risk from attack and thought they may have had a military function.

In the Ballymoney area, examples of a typical motte can be found at Carrowcrin, near Loughguile, and Drumart, near Ballymoney. Knockahollet, also near Loughguile, is a well-preserved motte with a bailey.

Ballymoney Workhouse

Ballymoney Workhouse

The Irish Poor Law of 1838 introduced a relief system for poor, sick and needy people.  Ireland was divided into 130 Poor Law Unions, with a workhouse established in each. The Ballymoney Workhouse was completed in 1843 and was managed by a Board of Guardians, elected by local rate-payers.

Families were separated and given a cold bath to de-louse them. Men, women and children were confined to their dormitories. During the day, they followed a strict regime and were expected to perform manual labour. Tasks included breaking stones, working in the laundry, digging trenches, picking oakum, cooking, and scrubbing floors. Their daily diet consisted of small quantities of oatmeal, soup, bread, potatoes and buttermilk.

The children were educated and taught a trade. Boys learned shoe making and tailoring, while girls were taught embroidery and cooking.

At the height of the famine in 1847, entire families were admitted to the Ballymoney Workhouse.  At one point, it became vastly overcrowded with 870 inmates.

By the early 20th century, the number of people seeking relief had declined, and the workhouse closed in 1918. It later became the site of the Route Hospital.

Balnamore Mill

Balnamore Mill

In the early 19th Century, Balnamore was one of the largest spinning mills outside Belfast. In its prime, it employed more than 400 people. Despite the harsh conditions, locals who worked there recall it as an excellent place to work, with a strong sense of community.

In 1764, John Caldwell bought a corn mill and 40 acres of land at Harmony Hill, later named Balnamore. Caldwell added bleach works and a small beetling mill and soon ran a profitable business.

The mill later came under the control of Joseph Bryan. He installed 400 water-powered spindles and began making strong yarn for sail cloth and canvas.

A village began to develop around the mill, with houses for employees, a shop and a school. In later years, there was even a football team.

The mill was sold to Braidwater Spinning Company Ltd., of Ballymena, who extended it and introduced new water-powered turbines. In the 1920s, Braidwater Spinning Company Ltd sold it again to Hale, Martin & Co. Ltd.

In the 1930s, when the linen industry declined, the mill could not survive. The mill horn sounded for the last time on 27th February 1959.