Ballyclare (in Irish: Bealach Cláir, ie way or pass of the plain) is a small town in the Six Mile Valley, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,770 people in the 2001 Census. Under the reorganisation of Northern Ireland local government in the 1970s, Ballyclare lost its Urban District status and was absorbed into the Newtownabbey Borough Council area.
It is situated in the north west of the Newtownabbey Borough, on the lower slopes of the Six Mile Water Valley, with Craig Hill providing a wooded backdrop to the east. Its medieval origins can still be seen in Ballyclare Motte to the south of the town. The street pattern, with its broad main street, dates back to the 18th century. A clock tower/keep is a central focus within the town and the old mill marks the industrial district on the south east developed along the Six Mile Water. It is a local service centre with a significant dormitory role in relation to Belfast. It is the main focus within the rural area for housing, shopping and commerce, industry and employment, education and recreation.
When the Normans built the castle at Carrickfergus they placed a line of outposts along the river which was then called the "Ollar"- River of the Rushes. In time the soldiers making the journey from Carrickfergus to Antrim reached the river at this spot when they had traveled six miles so began to call the Ollar the Six Mile Water. One of these mottes is close by the river in the War Memorial Park in Ballyclare. There are two on opposite sides of the river at Doagh and one at Antrim. The village grew after the Plantation of Ulster and was granted permission by King George II in 1756 to hold two fairs each year making it an important market centre.
At the same time as the Pilgrim Fathers landed in America Ballyclare was settled by Scots planters. Jonathan Swift preached here and it was from here the families of Mark Twain, Sam Houston and General Alexander Macomb left for America. The people of Ballyclare and the surrounding villages played a part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and fought in the Battle of Antrim. At the beginning of the twentieth century Ballyclare was a growing industrial town with an Urban Council and became the largest paper producer in Ireland.
For more details see: Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service
There is also another Ballyclare in Co. Offaly, a townsland adjacent to Ferbane town.
The May Fair is one of the few horse fairs now left in the country. The Main Street is sanded down and given over to horse selling for the day. However, there is now a variety of modern amusements in the square. Other events include the Mayor's Parade, followed by sports, street events, concerts and exhibitions. Local shops compete for the best dressed window, and children take part in fancy dress competitions and the Duck Race. A May Fair Queen is chosen to represent the town over the next year.
A recent attempt by local traders to uproot the traditional fair from the town's Market Square has sparked outcry and protest amonst the local residents.
Recently, various "celebrities" have been involved in the opening of the May Fair, including famous Northern Ireland DJ, Hugo Duncan, several regular contenders of the hit Saturday evening show "The Gladiators" and the runner up of "X-Factor", Chico. And who can forget the day the jeb library played the square? As part of the davy freephone ate my hamster world your of ballyclare.
recently released a charity cd for the hospice. a legendary piece of music history.
The building was demolished al together in 2004 and was replace with a similarly shaped and styled building. The old engine shed, however, remains and is now a carpet sales room.