Auld Lammas Fair: Can you help build an archive of photos and stories?

While the traditional Aul Lammas Fair in Ballycastle won’t be happening this year, Ballycastle Community Development Group and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are asking for the public’s help to bring the history of the event to life.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 6:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 9:58 pm
At the races: Boys having fun at the Oul Lammas Fair in years gone by. Photo: Chronicle and Constitution Archive, Coleraine Museum.

The council has teamed up with the community group, and with your help, wishes to build a collection of information and experiences aimed at revitalizing the famous fair’s heritage.

Those behind the initiative hope that the public will share their stories and experiences, along with images, old newspaper articles and mementos collected through the years to develop an archive of the Fair.

So whether you have you been busy clearing out the attic or garage and have stumbled across some photographs, or just have a story about treating your Mary Ann to some dulse and yellowman, the group would love you to share them as they begin to build up this important heritage resource.

A stall at the Oul Lammas Fair in years gone by. Photo: Chronicle and Constitution Archive, Coleraine Museum.

The word Lammas comes from ‘loaf mass’ - traditionally bread baked from the first grains of autumn were placed on the church altar. Farther back, it also has roots in the pagan festival of Lughnasa.

Sorley Boy McDonnell, the County Antrim clan chieftain, is credited with founding the fair in the mid-1500s.

It was first held at the McDonnell castle, Dunanenie, on the headland-location of today’s Castle Point caravan park. When a castle was built in what is now Ballycastle Diamond in 1625, the fair moved there, where it remains today.

In the 19th century visitors used to come from Islay, the Scottish island just 20 miles north of Ballycastle, which had strong blood ties to the area north Antrim.

Crowds pack out the streets eating dulse and checking out horses and other fare at the Oul Lammas Fair. (Photo: Chronicle and Constitution Archive, Coleraine Museum.)

Submit photos, clippings and memories here;- https://www.ballycastleconnect.org/ould-lammas-fair

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