Ballyclare is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population10,850 (2021 Census)
Irish grid referenceJ312903
• Belfast13 miles (21 km)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT39
Dialling code028
PoliceNorthern Ireland
FireNorthern Ireland
AmbulanceNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
54°45′04″N 5°59′56″W / 54.751°N 5.999°W / 54.751; -5.999

Ballyclare (from Irish Bealach Cláir, meaning 'pass of the plain')[2] is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 10,850 according to the 2021 census,[3] and is located within the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area.

It sits on the river Six Mile Water. The town probably owes its origins to its being a crossing point of the river, the strategic importance of which is shown by existence of a small Norman motte on the south side of the river and presently located in the War Memorial Park. The broad main street dates from the 17th century. In the centre of the town is the Market Square with the Town Hall. The town grew in the 19th century with the coming of the railway and it became an important industrial town with a large paper mill in the South West of the town and a large Linen Bleach Green. These factories gave their names to the roads leading to them, the Mill Road and the Green Road, but have been closed for some time. It is now a local service centre with a significant dormitory role in relation to Belfast. It is the main focus within the rural area for shopping, education and recreation.[4] To the north is the remnant of Craig Hill, which once provided a wooded backdrop but is now covered with modern housing. Much of the Craig Hill has been quarried for its basalt.


People have lived in Ballyclare for six thousand years. The earliest evidence of people in this area is a hoard of flint arrow heads found when houses were being built north of the river in November 1968. There were a total of thirty-nine flints discovered – some perfectly finished and others are blank indicating an 'industry' and trading here near the river crossing over four thousand years ago.

When the Normans built the castle at Carrickfergus they placed a line of outposts along the river which was then called the "Ollar" – River of the Rushes. In time the soldiers making the journey from Carrickfergus to Antrim reached the river at this spot when they had travelled six miles so began to call the Ollar the Six Mile Water. One of these mottes is close by the river in the War Memorial Park in Ballyclare. There are two on opposite sides of the river at Doagh and one at Antrim. The village grew after the Plantation of Ulster and was granted permission by King George II in 1756 to hold two fairs each year making it an important market centre.

At the same time as the Pilgrim Fathers landed in what is now the United States, Ballyclare was settled by Scots planters. Jonathan Swift preached in Ballyclare and it was from the town that the families of Mark Twain, Sam Houston and General Alexander Macomb left for America. The people of Ballyclare and the surrounding villages played a part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and fought in the Battle of Antrim. At the beginning of the 20th century Ballyclare was a growing industrial town with an urban district council and became the largest paper producer in Ireland.

As part of the 1947 Grand Prix season, which constituted the first full season of the FIA's Formula One motor racing, the 1947 Ulster Trophy race took place at Ballyclare.


Climate data for Killylane climate station (250m elevation) 1981–2010 averages
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 5.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.3
Average rainfall mm (inches) 122.0
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 18.2 15.6 15.7 13.5 13.3 13.3 15.6 16.2 14.7 17.1 19.0 18.3 190.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 42.5 56.5 91.0 144.0 181.7 148.3 140.5 134.6 110.0 71.5 33.6 38.3 1,192.3


On Census day (27 March 2011) there were 9,953 people living in Ballyclare (4,039 households), accounting for 0.55% of the NI total,[6] an increase of 13.5% on the Census 2001 population of 8,770.[7]

Of these:

The population has grown significantly over the last 40 years from 1,999 in 1971 to 8,654 in 2001 and 9,953 in 2011, an increase of 398%.[6][4]

Notable Buildings

There are two large Post Primary Schools, a grammar school on the Rashee Road and called Ballyclare High School, and a state Secondary School with access from the Doagh Road and Avondale Drive.



Archibald McIlroy's novel When Lint Was in the Bell is a light-hearted, lightly fictionalised chronicle of life in 19th-century Ballyclare. A Ballyclare native, born c. 1860, Mr. McIlroy was lost in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.


Two musical ensembles have represented the town on the regional, national and international stage: the Ballyclare Male Choir[9] since 1933, and the Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band[10] since 1919. The Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band is based in the town and is regular in parades and RSPBA competitions. The Clare Chorale is a mixed voice community based choir in Ballyclare, formed from Ballyclare High School alumni in 2003, it now boasts over 50 members drawn from a range of professions. It aims to entertain and challenge, providing a broad musical repertoire both spiritual and secular. In 2023 they will celebrate their 20th Anniversary.

The May Fair

The Ballyclare May Fair occurs on a Tuesday in May every year, and is part of a week of festivities.[11] The tradition stems from a grant by King George II to hold two yearly fairs, although only the May Fair now survives. The event began as a local horse fair, but representatives of cavalry regiments came from all over Europe to buy there as the reputation of the fair spread. The fair's heyday ended with the First World War, but it is still a well-loved event in the town.[12]

Notable people

See also: Category:People from Ballyclare



The road network in Ballyclare is centred on Main Street, North End and Market Square in the Town Centre. A number of roads lead into the Town Centre including the Hillhead Road from the south, the Doagh Road from the west and the Rashee, Ballyeaston and Ballycorr Roads from the north and north east. Car parking available in the town centre ranges from surface-level parking to free and paid on-street parking.[4]


Ballyclare had a narrow gauge rail link to Larne and a broad gauge connection to Belfast. Neither of these have been in use since the 1950s. Ballyclare railway station on the narrow gauge Ballymena and Larne Railway opened on 24 August 1878, closed to passenger traffic on 1 October 1930, closed to goods traffic on 3 June 1940 and finally closed altogether on 3 July 1950. The station on the broad gauge Northern Counties Committee railway line opened on 3 November 1884, closed for passenger traffic on 1 January 1938, closed for goods traffic on 2 May 1938 and finally closed altogether on the same date as its narrow gauge counterpart in 1950.[20] The building was demolished altogether in 2004 and was replaced with a similarly shaped and styled building. The old engine shed, however, remains and is now part of Modern Tyres and is visible from the Hillhead Road.




  1. ^ Kallen, Jeffrey L. Focus on Ireland. p. 190.
  2. ^ Place Names NI
  3. ^ "Ballyclare – Flexible Table Builder". 2021 Census. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "Ballyclare". Draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2007.
  5. ^ "Climate Normals 1981–2010". Met Office. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Census 2011 Population Statistics for Ballyclare Settlement". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Retrieved 7 August 2019. This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  7. ^ "Census 2001 Usually Resident Population: KS01 (Settlements) - Table view". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). p. 1. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Town Hall (HB21/05/004)". Department for Communities. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  9. ^ Ballyclare Male Choir website. Archived 30 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band website. Archived 17 May 2006 at
  11. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on 16 May 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  12. ^ "About the May Fair". Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Therapy frontman Andy Cairns on the highs and lows of the band's time at the top". Belfast Telegraph. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  14. ^ "Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin retires from professional golf". BBC. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  15. ^ "Willie John McBride at 80: 'I'm blessed not to have any problems given the hits I took'". The Telegraph. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Manchester United's McNair recalls boyhood days spent kicking a ball on family farm". Northern Ireland World. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Jonathan Rea Six Time Champion". Jonathan Rea clinches sixth World Superbike championship BelfastLive. 17 October 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  18. ^ "A Ballyclare welcome for Jonathan Rea". Northern Ireland World. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  19. ^ "Tommy Wright". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  20. ^ "Ballyclare station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  21. ^ "Ballyclare Rugby Football Club". Retrieved 11 September 2023.