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County Antrim


(Baile Cashlin, Ballycastle)

It is probable that Ballycastle has the distinction of hosting a fair for a longer period than any town in Ireland. There has been a fair here since the 1400's. It was first held near Dunineny Castle this name means 'fort of the fair' little remains of the castle now. The fair is held on the last Monday and Tuesday of August. 'The Ould Lammas Fair' as it is called attracts visitors from over Ireland and indeed many from overseas.

The fair still has many of the characteristics of the traditional country fair with the sale of livestock etc. There are stalls selling almost everything imaginable. There is to be had 'dulse' which is dried edible seaweed and yellow man an extremely hard locally made toffee.

An early name for Ballycastle is said to have been Port Brittas, it was from there that the Dalriadans (A local tribal group) sailed to and collonised parts of western Scotland, in 506 led by the chiefs Angus and Fergus, tradition related that they took with them the Lia Fail or stone of fate, on which Irish Monarchs were crowned at Tara in county Meath, almost eight centuried later in 1296 the Lia Fail was taken from Scone in Scotland to Westminster Abbey, London by Edward I. The above mentioned Fergus is probably the same who gave his name to the town of Carrickfergus when his galley was wrecked and he drowned in 530 AD.

At the north end of the town near the harbour is a memorial to Marconi who transmitted the first radio signal from there to Rathlin Island.

John "The Carver" Maculey (1873-1937) was born on a small farm in Glenshesk (Sedgy glen) unfortunately when young he met with an accident which left him crippled, John had a talent for music and wood carving, he set up a business in Ann Street, Ballycastle (now Dan McLister's News agency & Toy Shop) carving all manner of objects from bog oak. John Maculey was an accomplished fiddle player and wrote a number of songs, the only one that was ever published was 'The Ould Lammas Fair' which sadly did not become popular until after his death in 1937.

Did you treat your Mary Anne
To some dulse and yellow man
At the Ould Lammas fair at Ballycastle-O.

Read all the words here.

Tourist Information
Sheskburn House
7 Mary Street
Co Antrim
BT54 6QH
Tel +44 (0)28 2076 2225
Fax +44 (0)28 2076 2515
E Mail
Web Site

Ballycastle has had a notable industrial past at one time it produces iron, glass, soap and salt, this was down to the local landlord Hugh Boyd who built the holy trinity church in 1756 on the site of an old castle built by Sir Randell MacDonnell in 1625. The church contains memorials to the Boyd family. In 1731 the Irish Parliment granted Hugh Boyd £10,000 to construct a harbour at Ballycastle when the harbour was completed he was to export coal to Dublin for 11 shillings a ton (55p)

Ballycastle now has a modern harbour and marina, from the harbour a ferry runs a regular service to Rathlin Island.