Moravian Church, Gracehill, September 2009
Moravian Church, Gracehill, September 2009
John Cennick plaque, Gracehill, September 2009
John Cennick plaque, Gracehill, September 2009

Gracehill is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies about 3 km from Ballymena and is in the townland of Ballykennedy (from Irish: Baile Uí Cheannada).[1][2] It is part of the Borough of Mid & East Antrim.


The town now known as Gracehill was originally a plot of land in the Ballyykennedy townland that was ruled by Lord O'Neil. Gracehill was established as a Moravian planned settlement in 1746 by Reverend John Cenwick.[3] It is due to this strong historical background that the county council and the Gracehill Old School Trust have been rallying to have it recognized as Northern Ireland's second World Heritage Site for the last 18 years. If approved this would see the town ranked alongside The Giant's Causeway[4]

The Lord O'Neil agreed to lease about 200 plantation acres of land to Reverened John Cenwick which was divided into smaller portions among the Moravian settlers (otherwise known as the Brethren). The building of Gracehill began on April 26, 1763. The Reverend John Cenwick had received much push-back in attempting to start building the settlement from the original tenants that Lord O'Neill had removed from the site. O'Neill had only given these tenants 12 months notice to leave with no compensation fort the loss of their lands. However this push-back eventually ended and the first building to be created in Gracehill town was the Brethren's shop that the town creators thought was vital to the economic and overall prosper of the town. This building was able to press forward as the moravian town creators requested to borrow £2000 from the Moravian Directory which they received within 6 months of asking. .[5]

In the year of 1837 the village was a great success. The plan of the city was in a quadrangle shape and built outwards from the middle. The village consisted of 39 family residents that were all members of the Moravian church and a majority of which resided in small cottages. Each resident had sufficient land surrounding their property to grow potatoes and keep a farm animal. The village was decorated with shrubbery and bushes throughout with any new buildings created for specific religious purposes including two principal houses for unmarried brethren and sisters. The principal house for unmarried brethren was also used as a daily school for young boys and girls, including those who were not residents of Gracehill, and a boarding school for young gentlemen. The village also contained a small linen manufacture to sustain themselves.[6]




  1. ^ "Gracehill". Culture Northern Ireland. Archived from the original on 19 March 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  2. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  3. ^ Darley, Gillian (1975). Villages of vision. London: Architectural Press. pp. 101, 148. ISBN 0-85139-705-0. OCLC 1921555.
  4. ^ "NI council backs bid to secure 'hugely significant' World Heritage Site status for Gracehill village". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  5. ^ Hanna, Saumuel George (1967). "The Origin and Nature of the Gracehill Moravain Settlement, 1764-1855, with Special Reference to the Work of John Cennick in Ireland". Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society. Moravian Historical Society. 21: 1–157 – via Jstor.
  6. ^ "Library Ireland: Irish History, Genealogy and Culture". Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  7. ^ "Gracehill old primary school". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 25 November 2021.

See also

Coordinates: 54°51′N 6°20′W / 54.850°N 6.333°W / 54.850; -6.333