It’s 70 years since some 2,000 evacuees arrived in Ballymena from Gibraltar and the anniversary of that arrival will be marked this Friday, October 3, with a varied programme of free events.
Celebrations, organised by Ballymena Council, will begin at 10am with a Mayoral Reception in the Braid for invited guests with Gibraltarian connections.
During the evacuation of civilians from ‘The Rock’ in 1943, eight groups of the some 6,000 evacuees who came to Northern Ireland were housed in Nissen huts at specially built camps in the countryside surrounding Ballymena, where they lived for several years with some meeting and marrying local people.
The camps were located at Moorfields, Tannybrake near Moorfields, Castlegore, Corby Bridge at Rathkenny and, just outside Broughshane, the camps of Dunaird, Drummack, Aughacully and Brekah Bridge.
On Friday, there will be a guided tour of the Camp Sites at Dunaird and Drummack followed by refreshments at Houston’s Mill, Broughshane, where there will be an afternoon “in conversation” on Memories of Gibraltar and there will also be an exhibition of Camp stories in The Braid.
Bringing details of the programme to a Council committee last week, Arts Officer, Rosalind Lowry, said a press campaign to encourage input from local citizens with Gibraltarian connections had been very successful with people coming forward to share their stories and old photos.