Ballycastle Harbour - - 468327.jpg
Ballycastle harbour
Ballycastle is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population5,237 (2011 Census)
Irish grid referenceD115407
• Belfast55 miles (89 km)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT54
Dialling code028
PoliceNorthern Ireland
FireNorthern Ireland
AmbulanceNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
55°12′18″N 6°15′29″W / 55.205°N 6.258°W / 55.205; -6.258

Ballycastle (from Irish: Baile an Chaistil, meaning 'town of the castle')[1][5] is a small seaside town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is on the northeasternmost coastal tip of Ireland, in the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The harbour hosts the ferry to Rathlin Island and a smaller passenger and charter service to Campbeltown and Port Ellen in Scotland, with both Rathlin Island and Scotland's Kintyre peninsula able to be seen from the coast. The Ould Lammas Fair is held each year in Ballycastle on the last Monday and Tuesday of August. Ballycastle is the home of the Corrymeela Community.

Ballycastle had a population of 5,237 at the 2011 census.[6] It was the seat and main settlement of the former Moyle District Council.


At the time of the 2011 UK Census the population of Ballycastle was 5,237.[6] Of these:


Ballycastle can trace its history back to the founding of a settlement around Port Brittas, the old name for Ballycastle Bay. It is from here that it has been suggested that Fergus Mór mac Eirc, a purported king of Dalriada, sailed to Scotland and founded a large colony throughout Argyll.[7]

From the late 14th century the area was at the centre of the territory controlled by the MacDonnell's of Antrim. Descended from Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg, it was through the marriage of John Mór MacDonald and Margery Byset in 1399 that the clan laid the basis of their claim to the Glens of Antrim. However it wasn't until the 16th century when the celebrated chieftain Sorley Boy MacDonnell of Dunaneeny Castle established the clan in both the Glens and The Route.[8]

The settlement around Dunaneeny Castle, along with the settlements at Bonamargy Friary and the castle in the area of the Diamond merged to become the present day town. It is from this castle, that stood on the site of Holy Trinity Church, which the town derived its name. Ballycastle Castle which had been in the possession of the MacDonnell's, before being seized by both Scottish and later Cromwellian troops, fell into disrepair with the last remaining walls being removed in the 19th century.[7]

Around the year 1786 Hugh Boyd, the son of the rector of Ramoan parish church, obtained a lease and permission from parliament to build a new harbour and pier to protect shipping. He is known for establishing coal shafts, potteries, a glass factory and a number of industries which under his care saw Ballycastle become a flourishing town. Hugh Boyd is credited for the construction or establishment of a number of buildings that still stand in the town today.[7]


The town is located within The Glens district electoral area (DEA) of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.[9] In the 2019 Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council election, the residents of this DEA elected 2 Sinn Fein, 1 SDLP, 1 UUP and 1 Independent representatives to the council.

Places of interest

View from the Rathlin boat
View from the Rathlin boat

The Ould Lammas Fair, historically a lamb sale, has now become a street get together with market stalls, busking and street performers, attracting upwards of sixty thousand people each year. The fair is normally held Bank holiday Monday and Tuesday at end of August based on the fact that fairs were always held on last Tuesday of the month. (When the bank holiday is the last day of August the fair occurs a week earlier.)

The Marconi memorial
The Marconi memorial

Buildings of note

Church of the Holy Trinity
Church of the Holy Trinity


Rathlin Island Ferry, Ballycastle Harbour
Rathlin Island Ferry, Ballycastle Harbour

Bus services in Ballycastle are operated by Translink.

A ferry runs between the town and Rathlin Island as part of a lifeline service. Since 2008 this ferry has been operated by the Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd[15] but previously it had been operated by Caledonian MacBrayne beginning in 1996.[16]

A passenger ferry service to Campbeltown on Scotland's Kintyre peninsula, and Port Ellen on Islay, operated by Kintyre Express, runs seven days during summer months and only on Mondays and Fridays during winter months.[17] Sea Containers Ltd previously ran a ferry from Ballycastle to Campbeltown from 1997 to June 2002.[18]

Ballycastle railway station opened on 18 October 1880 on the Ballycastle Railway, a narrow gauge railway which ran for 17 miles (27 km). The railway ran from Ballycastle to Ballymoney station, a station on the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway (BNCR), later Northern Counties Committee (NCC) and now part of Northern Ireland Railways.

The Troubles in Ballycastle

Waves in Ballycastle; Scotland can be seen in the background
Waves in Ballycastle; Scotland can be seen in the background

There were several incidents of what came to be known as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, including:

Parade disputes

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.[25]


As with the rest of Northern Ireland, Ballycastle experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest official Met Office weather station for which online records are available is at Ballypatrick Forest,[26] about 4 miles (6.4 km) east-southeast of Ballypatrick.

Climate data for Ballypatrick Forest (156 m or 512 ft elevation, averages 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.7
Average low °C (°F) 1.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 132.3
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 18.5 15.0 18.2 13.8 13.1 12.7 14.6 14.7 15.4 19.3 18.9 16.8 191.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 42.2 68.8 94.9 158.7 202.1 160.5 145.7 144.0 111.5 89.9 50.5 30.4 1,299.3


Sports of local interest include tennis, bowling (Mary Street), hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, (Whitehall/Leyland Road), soccer, golf, quidditch and skateboarding.[citation needed]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.[28] The course is one of the four courses played each June in the world-renowned Causeway Coast Golf Tournament.[29]


During the Summer, the town hosts two tennis tournaments, one of which is run by the Moyle District Council.[30]

Association Football

Ballycastle United Football Club combined with Moyle FC in 2011, and the team now competes in the Coleraine and District morning league.[31]


Ballycastle Bowling Club has a scenic outdoors setting that is a feature of the town's sea-front.

Notable people

See also: Category:People from Ballycastle, County Antrim

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Sir Roger Casement


See also


  1. ^ a b Ballycastle. Placenames Database of Ireland.
  2. ^ North-South Ministerial Council: 2002 Annual Report in Ulster Scots Archived 29 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Bonamargy Friary guide – Department of the Environment
  4. ^ Guide to Dunluce Castle in Ulster-Scots Archived 3 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine DOE.
  5. ^ Place Names NI
  6. ^ a b "Census 2011 Population Statistics for Ballycastle Settlement". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Forde, Rev. Hugh (1923). "Ballycastle". Sketches of Olden Days in Northern Ireland. Belfast: M'Caw, Stevenson & Orr.
  8. ^ Dunlop, Robert (1893). "MacDonnell, Sorley Boy" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  9. ^ "Local Government District Electoral Areas 2013" (PDF). Index map of Northern Ireland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Fair Head". The Gems of Antrim. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Knocklayde Mountain". Ballycastle Information. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Ballycastle". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  13. ^ "St Patrick's and St Brigid's Church". Ballycastle Parish. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  14. ^ "Ballycastle Presbyterian Church". Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2007.
  15. ^ "About – Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd". Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  16. ^ Ross, David (16 August 2021). "Tendering left an incoherent legacy for Highland and Island ferries that still requires explanation". The Press and Journal. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  17. ^ "Kintyre Express – ferry services and private charters". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  18. ^ "The Highland Line: ferry good news for Campbeltown". The Herald. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  19. ^ Patrick Carville (27 August 1973). "50 hurt in bomb blast in Ulster". Chicago Tribune.
  20. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths".
  21. ^ Ken Wharton (August 2014). Wasted Years, Wasted Lives. Vol. 2. Helion & Company. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-909982-17-8.
  22. ^ "'Unheard Voices' – six stories from the Troubles". Ballymoney Times. 6 May 2009.
  23. ^ "Republicans". The Daily Telegraph. London. 27 July 2000.
  24. ^ "UVF members linked to bomb". BBC News. 1 September 2001.
  25. ^ "Foiled loyalist bombers force calls to exclude PUP". The Guardian. 1 September 2001. Archived from the original on 10 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Station Locations". MetOffice.
  27. ^ "Climate Normals 1981–2010". Met Office. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  28. ^ "Bally Castle Golf Club". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  29. ^ "Causeway Coast". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  30. ^ Moyle Council
  31. ^ |"Ballycastle UFC". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  32. ^ Robert Pigott (3 March 2013). "Cardinal Keith O'Brien sorry for sexual misconduct". BBC. Retrieved 3 March 2013.