|Population||5,237 (2011 Census)|
|Irish grid reference|
|• Belfast||55 miles (89 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Ballycastle (from Irish: Baile an Chaistil, meaning 'town of the castle') 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The town is located within The Glens district electoral area (DEA) of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. 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.
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.)
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 but previously it had been operated by Caledonian MacBrayne beginning in 1996.
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. Sea Containers Ltd previously ran a ferry from Ballycastle to Campbeltown from 1997 to June 2002.
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.
There were several incidents of what came to be known as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, including:
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.
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, about 4 miles (6.4 km) east-southeast of Ballypatrick.
|Climate data for Ballypatrick Forest (156 m or 512 ft elevation, averages 1981–2010)|
|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.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 combined with Moyle FC in 2011, and the team now competes in the Coleraine and District morning league.
Ballycastle Bowling Club has a scenic outdoors setting that is a feature of the town's sea-front.