From Mesolithic to Motorcycles. Discover the history, beauty and mystery of Ballymoney. Ballymoney Museum re-opened in May 2009 following a £400,000 re-development, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new permanent exhibition explores the heritage of Ballymoney over the past 9,000 years and includes an exciting exhibition on the heroes of motorcycle road racing. The museum also has a History Resource Area that contains information useful for genealogical research. Ballymoney Museum is owned and managed by Ballymoney Borough Council and is a member of the Causeway Museum Service.
9am-5pm Monday-Thursday & Saturday
The Borough of Ballymoney is renowned for its rich and colourful history.
Fertile land has attracted people to this region since the early Stone Age and through the centuries Celts, Vikings, Normans, Scots and English have all claimed land and settled here.
Many remnants of the past can be found in the local landscape – Stone Age megalithic graves, Early Christian stone carvings, ring forts, Norman mottes and the countless old graveyards and churches. The oldest building in the Borough is the Tower in Ballymoney Old Church Graveyard, which dates to 1637. Nearby, built into the wall of the churchyard, is a headstone from the year 1610.
Two great uprisings have brought turmoil to the area - the Revolt of 1641 and the United Irish Rebellion of 1798. In the campaigns which led to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, James II and his men were garrisoned here, immediately followed by the opposing army of King William III as he regained control of the North. Throughout the nineteenth Century, Ballymoney thrived as a market town and country traditions still feature in the lives of the many rural villages.
Famous sons of the Borough include George Macartney of Lissanoure, first British Ambassador to China in 1782; Samuel McClure of Cloughmills who founded the first newspaper syndicate in America; Samuel Robinson who founded the American Stores Company and donated funds to build the Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ballymoney; and the sportmen Kennedy K. McArthur, of Dervock, marathon gold medallist at the 1912 Olympics, and the late Joey Dunlop, five times World Champion motorcycle road racing hero. Also of significance is the townland of Conagher, the ancestral home of the family of William McKinley, the 25th American President, assassinated in 1901.
Every year, Ballymoney is visited from overseas by the descendents of families who centuries ago sailed for America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and countless other foreign shores. Many are drawn here by family stories, passed from generation to generation, of the heritage, mystery and beauty of this historic region.
To discover more of the history of the Borough and its people, visit Ballymoney Museum.
Heritage and Monuments
Old Church Tower and Graveyard
It is the oldest surviving building in the town – the tower has a date stone inscribed 1637- and is included on the Borough Coat of Arms. Among those buried in the graveyard is the town’s ghost George Hutchinson JP known as ‘Bloody Hutchinson’. He was a magistrate who brought the local United Irishmen to trial during the rebellion of 1798. One of the rebels, Alexander Gamble, was hanged at the Diamond and 85 years later his remains were discovered and re-interred here in 1883.
Dooey’s Cairn, Dunloy
Dooey’s Cairn is situated about one third of a mile south of Dunloy. The Neolithic Court Cairn dates from around 2000-4000 B.C.. It is named after the family who gave it into state care.
Derrykeighan Old Church
At Derrykeighan Old Church about 1 ½ miles from the village of Dervock, a stone was recently discovered built into the corner of the Church. The stone, which is not part of the original fabric of the building, is thought to date from the 1st century A.D. Inscribed on the stone is an Irish form of the Early Iron Age Celtic Art. The stone, carved locally, is one of the most important Early Iron Age objects found in Ireland.
Chi-Rho Stone, Kilraughts
The chi-rho stone is situated at Drumaquern, the most ancient Christian Symbol in the Borough. The stone, which dates from about the 4th century and is unique in Ireland, has the chi-rho stone on one side and a reversed rho on the other.
Craigs Dolmen, Rasharkin
Craigs Dolmen – big capstone on seven upright stones – is close to a minor road 3 miles north of Rasharkin. The Broadstone is a cairn situated northeast of the dolmen and is less accessible.
Also of interest is the wood adjacent to the Roman Catholic Church. This is the traditional spot where St Olcan was discovered as a weeping infant. He later became the first Bishop of the Celtic Church in Ireland under St Patrick.
Ballymoney Town Hall
The Town Hall was erected by public subscription in 1866. It was then renovated and enlarged in 1933 and opened in February 1934. It contains life sized portraits of Dr William Taylor and Dr James Cramsie who collected funds for its building. Also in the hallway is a bronze mural relief commemorating the playwright George Sheils and a large wooden plaque marking the gold medal winner of the Marathon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Kennedy K McArthur from Dervock. The main window entrance to the Town Hall is also noteworthy for its stained glass with Irish interlaced ribbon work, bearing the former Ballymoney Coat of Arms.
The Broad Stone
A well-preserved example of a Neolithic Court Tomb, with a chamber aligned North-South.
Like most megalithic tombs, it bears little resemblance to its original appearance. 4,000-5,000 years ago, the tomb had large, flat lintel rocks that formed an entrance, and it was roofed with corbelling (overlapping small stones). This chamber was then covered by thousands of loose stones. Over the millennia the chamber collapsed and the loose stones were removed.
In the mid 19th century, local people placed the huge capstone on the remains of the chamber, giving the false impression of a ‘dolmen’ or Portal Tomb.