It was the seat and main settlement of the old Moyle District Council and forms part of the North Antrim constituency. Ballycastle was named the best place to live in Northern Ireland in a list compiled by The Sunday Times in 2016.
Breakers on Antrim Coast near Ballycastle, Ireland, with cliffs of Fair Head. Scotland appears in the distance on clear days.
Fair Head, Ballycastle's headland rises 196 metres (643 ft) out of the bay. Goats roam the rocks beneath the cliff tops, where a walkway called 'The Gray Man's Path' winds around the coastline. From the road, a man-made Iron Age island or crannog can be seen in the middle of a large lake.
Knocklayde, a heather-covered mountain with a height of 1,695 feet, is crowned by Carn na Truagh (the cairn of sorrow), and has views over Ballycastle, Rathlin Island, Fair Head, and Scotland.
Glentaisie, the most northerly of the Nine Glens of Antrim, lies at the foot of Knocklayde mountain. It is named after the Princess Taisie, the daughter of King Dorm of Rathlin Island. According to legend, Taisie, renowned for her great beauty, was betrothed to Congal, heir to the Kingdom of Ireland. The king of Norway also sought her hand in marriage, and when he arrived to claim his bride, her wedding celebrations to Congal had begun. The king and his army tried to capture Taisie, but in the subsequent battle he was killed, and his army fled leaderless and empty-handed.
The Carey, Glenshesk and Tow Rivers flow down from the glens into the Margy River. It then flows into the Moyle Sea at the start of the Strand.
Pans Rocks, which are the remains of an iron salt pan lying at the far end of Ballycastle Beach, jut out into the sea and are used as a location for fishing.
The Marconi memorial
The Devils Churn, lying just beyond Pans Rocks, has steps carved into the stone leading to an underwater tunnel.
Clare Park on Clare Road, was an estate owned by the then-local landed gentry, the McGildownys. The 17th-century house has been pulled down but it was set in a site high up on the Antrim coast.
A cycling route runs from Ballycastle to Cushendun, by way of Torr Head, from which Moyle (the North Channel) can be seen. Also used for inshore sea fishing, Torr Head has a coastguard station, which was built on and out of the remains of Dunvarragh, the fort of Barach.
The Corrymeela Community (a Christian organisation promoting peace and reconciliation, founded in 1965) is based at Corrymeela, just outside Ballycastle.
Overlooking the harbour, there is a monument to Guglielmo Marconi whose employees made the world's first commercial wireless telegraph transmission between Ballycastle and the East Lighthouse on Rathlin Island.
Buildings of note
Rathlin Island Ferry, Ballycastle Harbour
Holy Trinity, Church of Ireland, is situated in the Diamond, i.e., the main square. Like the rest of the Diamond, the church is grade 'A' listed. Built by Colonel Hugh Boyd, who bore the total cost, the church was completed in 1756. It was built in Graeco-Italian style with an apse-shaped chancel, and an octagonal spire about 100 feet high. It was effectively a chapel for the Boyd family and its estate for many years. The remains of many Boyd descendants are in the vaults below - although it was always subject to Episcopal jurisdiction. It was given to the Church of Ireland in about 1950. The church is open every day from 9am-5pm.
Bonamargy Friary is off the Cushendall Road on the approach to Ballycastle and is a late Franciscan foundation established in 1485 by Rory MacQuillan. Locked vaults hold the remains of the celebrated chieftain, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and several of the earls of Antrim. The Friary's most famous resident is the 17th century prophet and recluse Julia MacQuillan. Known as "The Black Nun", she wished to be buried at the entrance of the chapel so that she might be trodden under the feet of those who entered. A round holed cross marks her grave.
Kinbane Castle is situated on a headland projecting into the sea, about 3 miles (5 km) from Ballycastle on the road to Ballintoy. Originally a two-storey building, it was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell, who died within its walls in 1558.
There are several churches in Ballycastle. Ballycastle's Presbyterian Church (in Castle Street) has a distinctive round tower.
Bus services in Ballycastle are operated by Translink.
A ferry, currently operated by the Rathlin Island Ferry Company, runs between the town and Rathlin Island as part of a lifeline service. The ferry service to the island was formerly operated by Caledonian MacBrayne.
Ferries formerly sailed between Ballycastle and Campbeltown in Scotland, but the service was suspended in June 2002.
A passenger ferry service to Campbeltown, operated by Kintyre Express, now runs Friday to Monday during summer months and on Mondays and Fridays during winter months.
Loyalist paramilitaries left a car bomb outside the Roman Catholic church (St. Patrick's & St. Brigid's) in the town on 26 August 1973. It was timed to explode as massgoers left the church. But the service ran late, and the bomb detonated when the congregation were still inside the church, avoiding large-scale loss of life. 50 people were injured, 3 of them seriously.
On 19 June 1979 the Irish Republican Army bombed five hotels in different seaside towns in Northern Ireland, including Ballycastle's Marine Hotel. William Whitten, a 65-year-old Protestant hotel guest, was seriously injured in the blast; he died three weeks later.
In 2001, there was an attempt at mass murder by the Ulster Volunteer Force when a car bomb was left in Castle Street during the annual Lammas Fair.
In the past, there has been unrest during Orange Order parades in the town. In 2001, there was serious public disorder at the 12 July parade. As a result of this, the Silver Plains flute band from nearby Moyarget, was banned from marching in the town due to allegations of sectarian conduct and paramilitary trappings. The North Antrim Orange Order held their annual parade in the town in 2006. Following discussions between residents, the Orange Order, business owners, and Sinn Féin the parade passed off without incident.
Sports of local interest include tennis, bowling (Mary Street), hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, (Whitehall/Leyland Road), soccer, golf and skateboarding.There is additionally a local pool league between the various pubs in the town.
Ballycastle Golf Club offers an 18-hole championship course open year-round to both members and non-members. The course is one of the four courses played each June in the world-renowned Causeway Coast Golf Tournament.
During the Summer, the town hosts two tennis tournaments, one of which is run by the Moyle District Council.
Ballycastle United Football Club currently compete in the Coleraine and District Premier League, having formerly played at intermediate-level in the Premier division of the Ballymena & Provincial League in Northern Ireland.
Conleth Seamus Eoin Croiston Hill (born 24 November 1964) is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has performed on stage in productions in the United Kingdom and the United States. He won the 2001 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and has received two Tony Award nominations. He is best known for his role as Varys in the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011–present).
The Corrymeela Community is a Christian community whose objective is the promotion of reconciliation and peace-building through the healing of social, religious, and political divisions in Northern Ireland. It runs programmes aimed at establishing a shared society defined by tolerance, where differences are resolved through dialogue in the public sphere and where there is equity, respect for diversity and recognition of interdependence.
John Turnley (c.1935 – 5 June 1980) was an Irish politician and activist. Originally from a unionist background, he was gradually drawn to Irish nationalism and became a republican activist. He was assassinated in 1980 by loyalists in Carnlough, County Antrim.
Terence Donnelly (born 1959 in Ballycastle, County Antrim) is an Irish former sportsman. He played hurling with his local club McQuillans, Ballycastle and was a member of the Antrim senior inter-county team in the 1980s.
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