It’s 70 years since some 2,000 evacuees arrived in Ballymena from Gibraltar and the anniversary of that historic arrival was suitably marked on Friday with a varied programme of free events in the borough.
Celebrations, organised by Ballymena Council, got underway 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.
And on Friday there was a guided tour of the Camp Sites at Dunaird and Drummack followed by refreshments at Houston’s Mill, Broughshane, which was also the venue for afternoon “in conversation” on Memories of Gibraltar. There was also an exhibition of Camp stories in The Braid and, it is understood, that in a bid to ensure that such memories are maintained for posterity, a DVD was made on the day.