The impact which tobacco giants Gallaher had on the lives of generations of Ballymena people was enormous.
From the initial arrival of the firm at Lisnafillan in the dark days of World War 2 through the decades which followed, the very name of Gallaher was associated with above average pay, good conditions and job security.
Tragically the final link with the town and district will be broken in May 2017 when the factory finally closes its doors with the departure of current owners JTI.
It would have been sad to see the history of the plant go unrecorded, so the compilation of a high quality commemorative book created by employees of the firm is to be commended.
‘Smoke Signals: The Story of Gallaher in Northern Ireland’ celebrates not only the manufacturing history of the site but, more importantly, tells the tale of the thousands of workers who have passed through the gates down through the years.
The book contains some fascinating stories -and, best of all some superbly evocative pictures - which span the entire 160 year history of the firm in the province.
The story begins with the birth of Tom Gallaher in 1840 and charts the rise of the company from 1857 to its eventual position as the third largest tobacco company in the world as part of the JTI group.
The book is not available to members of the general public but since few Ballymena families do not have a connection to Gallaher in some shape or fashion it’s a fair bet it will still be widely read!
All factory employees have already received a copy of the book and JTI/Gallaher pensioners will receive theirs by the end of September.