Once again Thursday Doors hails from the seaside town of Ballycastle in County Antrim and by now I hope you’re thinking it’s a gem of a place but the diamond referred to in the title is not a precious stone. It’s really the heart of the town and where many annual markets have been held over the centuries. The largest and most famous being The Ould Lammas Fair.
Every year, for two days late in August, Ballycastle is taken over by between 250,000 and 350,000 visitors, who come to an event that has its origins in the 16th century – The Ould (Auld) Lammas Fair. Because of the pandemic, last year it was cancelled for the first time ever and it looks like its been cancelled this year, too. It has a fascinating history attached to it that reaches way back into ancient Ireland.
‘The name of Lammas originated from the ‘Feast of Lughnasadh’ or Lugh. In Irish legend, Lugh was a Sun God who had a mortal foster-mother named Tailtiu. She was a queen or princess of the Firbolgs – Men of Bags. These early inhabitants of Ireland are said to have come from Greece or Spain where they were put into servitude and forced to carry soil from the fertile plains to the higher ground. To do this, they devised leather bags which they later used to build boats and escape from their enslavement.‘ I’ll leave a link at the end of this post if you’d like to read more.*
Holy Trinity, Church of Ireland, is situated in the Diamond and is a Grade A listed building. The Church was completed in 1756 and built by Colonel Hugh Boyd in the Greco-Roman style.
I really like these rounded pillars at the main entrance.
In front of the church stands a sandstone built memorial in the form of a Gothic style pinnacle. It’s about 6 metres high, resting on a circular base of granite. Two plaques are displayed on it, one recording the name of Doctor George Matthew O’Connor, who died in 1887 and the other is the O’Connor coat of arms. He was the Medical Officer for the Workhouse and Dispensary Doctor for forty years and obviously a well loved member of the community.
Here’s a view of the Diamond and monument from the main street.
The pink pub, Boyd Arms, was established in 1761 during the reign of King George III. A three-storey former hotel, it is named after the Boyd family on whose land Ballycastle lies and who constructed the pub and other buildings in this part of town. The Boyd Arms Hotel was built for the coach-drivers and servants of the gentry who stayed at the Antrim Arms Hotel across the street.
The gentry’s hotel isn’t so eye-catching nowadays and so I never even took a closer photograph of it than what you see on the right of the above image. I think it may be a listed building and hopefully one day it will be restored to it’s former glory. Ironic that the former servants hotel is now the more well kept building.
I’ll finish of with another lovely restaurant, The Cellar. I haven’t tried the food here yet so it’s on my list for another trip.
Not much has changed structurally at The Diamond over the decades, as you can see from the old colourized photograph below.
Thanks for coming along on another virtual tour this week. Dan has a great selection of links to interesting places over on his blog, if you’d like to do a bit more exploring. I’m sure that some time in the future I’ll be featuring more from Ballycastle in another Thursday Doors post, as I haven’t even featured half of what the town has to offer so far, The Diamond being only a tiny part of its interesting features.