Ballymena through the ages – the Timesline

Ballymena's history at a sprint! take a tour on the 'Timesmachine' and find out more about the area you live in.

7000 –3500 BC:The Mesolithic period is not apparently represented in the sites around Ballymena. Settlements of this period do not leave surface traces.

4000-600 BC:Like the Mesolithic period, houses of the Neolithic and Bronze Age were still mainly of wood or wicker. Archaeological finds include a range of metal objects including bronze axes, palstaves, bronze heads and a gold dress fastener. A Standing Stone in Town Parks was apparently destroyed during he building of the town's workhouse.

450-1150AD:The first recorded Irish history of the Ballymena area dates to the Early Christian period of the 5th and 7th centuries. Raths found in Ballykeel and a site called Camphill Fort in Ballee may also have been of this type. There are a number of souterrain sites within a 2km radius of the centre of Ballymena.

Two miles north of Ballymena in the Townland of Kirkinriola the ancient parish church and graveyard possess several indicators of Early Christian settlement including a souterrain. Also in 1868, a gravedigger found a large stone slab on which was carved a cross with the inscription "oa do degen". This refers to Bishop Degen who lived in Ireland during the 7th century.

480AD:A church was founded in Connor, 5 miles south of Ballymena. Followed by a monastery at Templemoyle, Kells.

831AD:The Vikings invaded the Ballymena area, burning the Church at Connor.

900-1100 AD:The Petty Kingdom of the DalnAraide (Mid Antrim) was conquered by the Ui Tuirtre led by the O'Flynns.

1000-1100AD:The Anglo Normans conquered much of Antrim and Down and created the core of the Anglo-Norman "Earldom of Ulster". During this campaign they built great mounds of earth topped by wooden towers, referred to as Mottes, as defensive structures. Harryville Motte and Bailey is one of the best examples in Northern Ireland of this type of fortification. Some sources, however, credit the O'Flynns with building the Mid-Antrim mottes and baileys in imitation of the invaders.

1177AD:In 1177AD and 1178 AD the O'Flynns defeated and repelled the Earl of Ulster, John de Courcey.

1315AD:Edward Bruce (brother of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland) invaded Ireland. On 10th September 1315, at the Battle of Tawnybrack (5 miles south of Ballymena at Kells) he fought against and conquered the army of Richard De Burgo, the Anglo-Norman Earl of Ulster.

1300's AD The O'Neills of Clann Aodh buidhe ("Clandeboy") crossed the River Bann from Tyrone and conquered the Ui Tuirtre in mid Antrim.

1368AD:The last person to claim to be king of the Ui Tuirtre was killed. The O'Flynns fled into the Ard, along with the Anglo-Normans of south Antrim.

mid 1400's AD:South and mid Antrim was known as Lower or northern Clandeboye.

1576AD:Queen Elizabeth I granted land, including the town of Ballymena, to Sir Thomas Smith. The lands had been forfeited to the crown after Shane O'Neill's rebellion in the 1560's. Smith brought English settlers to the area.

1581AD:Smith's English settlement failed. The Lands were reverted to the crown.

1605AD:An inquisition of 1605 divided the territory of northern Clandeboye; Ballymena lay in the division known of Clanagherty (Clanagherty consisted of the parish of Kirkinriola and the small part of the original parish of Ahoghill.

1607AD:On 10 May 1607AD King James I granted the native Irish chief, Rory Og MacQuillan the "Ballymena Estate". The estate passed through several owners, eventually passing into the possession of William Adair, a Scottish laird from Kinhilt in South-Western Scotland. The estate was temporarily re-named Kinhilstown after the Adair's lands in Scotland.

1600's AD :The original castle of Ballymena was build in the early 17th century, situated to take advantage of an ancient ford over the River Braid, at the south-west end of Castle Street.

1626AD:King Charles I confirmed the grant of the Ballymena Estate to William Adair, giving him the right to hold a market at Ballymena on every Saturday.

1641AD:The local Ballymena garrison fought against the rebels but had to retreat to Carrickfergus, leaving the rebels to drive out refugees at Clough.

1669AD:The hearth rolls indicate 106 houses at "Ballymenoch"

1684AD:Ballymena's first market house (on the site of the present town hall) was built.

1690AD:The Duke of Wurtemburg, a Williamite General uses Galgorm Castle as hi headquarters. Sir Robert Adair raises a Regiment of Foot for William III and fights at the Battle of the Boyne

1704AD:Population of Ballymena reached 800

1707AD:Kirkinriola's first Protestant (Church of Ireland) parish church was built.

1740AD:The original Ballymena Castle was burnt down

1765AD:The founding of Gracehill Moravian settlement

1783AD:Ballymena is one of nine leading markets for the sale of brown linen in Ulster with sales of 100,000 in this year

1798AD:During the 1798 rebellion, Ballymena was occupied from 7th to 9th June by a force of around 10,000 United Irishmen, who stormed the Market House (now the Town Hall) killing three of its defenders.

1827AD::Consecration of the first Roman Catholic Church in Ballymena.

1831AD:Fairhill market was built by William Adair.

1834AD:The population of Ballymena grows to 4,063.

1843AD:Ballymena Workhouse was opened for reception of paupers on 17 November 1843.

1845AD:The Potato Famine starts to affect Ballymena.

1848 AD:Belfast and Ballymena Railway established.

1854AD:A Board of Town Commissioners was set up to administer the growing town.

1865AD:Robert Alexander Shafto Adair erected Ballymena Castle, a magnificent family residence, in the Demesne. The Castle is not completed until 1887.A consortium of local businessmen established the Braidwater Spinning Company.

1883AD:The first Ballymena Agricultural Show was held in the Fairhill.

Late 1800's AD:Sir Alexander Shafto Adair (who later became Lord Waveney) noted the "Seven Towers" – old Parish Church, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, First Ballymena Presbyterian Church, All Saints Roman Catholic Church, Old Town Hall, Braidwater Spinning Mill and Ballymena Castle. Unfortunately only three towers now remain; Old Parish Church, St Patrick's Church of Ireland and All Saints Roman Catholic Church.

1900AD:Ballymena assumed urban status.

1904AD:The Adairs disposed of most of their Ballymena estate to the occupying tenants, under the provisions of the Irish Land Act of 1903.

1915AD:Waveney Hospital completed.

1919AD:The "old" town hall building, which also contained the post office and estate office, burned down.

1924AD:The Duke of York laid The Foundation Stone to the "new" town hall on 24 July 1924.

1928AD:The "new" town hall was officially opened on 20th November 1928.

1937AD:The Urban District Council petitioned for Borough status and the Charter was granted in December 1937.

1939AD:The first meeting of Councillors, as a Borough Council was held on 23rd May 1939. The population of Ballymena reaches 13,000

1948AD:Closure of Ballymena Workhouse.

1953AD:The Borough of Ballymena was granted armorial bearings, based on the Seven Towers.

1950's:Ballymena Castle was demolished.

1973AD:The Urban and Rural District Councils were merged to create the present Borough Council.

1989AD:Closure of the Fairhill Market.

1994AD:Closure of the Waveney Hospital.

1998AD:Closure of the Braidwater Mill.