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.

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

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.