Forging history, firing muskets!

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What were weapons like 200 years ago? What, or who, is a Brown Bess? What is a pike head and how were they made?

Everyone will have a chance to find the answers to these questions on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st June, when staff from the National 1798 Centre will be offering free hands-on weapon demonstrations to the public as part of a weekend of living history events. A few lucky people may get the chance to handle a musket and even see how one of King George III’s Yeomen would have fired it back in the 18th century.

Alongside the muskets, there will be an opportunity to see a blacksmith at work.

In past centuries, the blacksmith was one of the most important men in the community. A town the size of Ballymoney would need several forges to cope with the demand for their work. The demonstration will highlight the role of the blacksmith in social history and also focus on their involvement in the United Irish Rebellion. Back in 1798, many blacksmiths in North Antrim risked imprisonment or execution if they were caught by the Yeomanry making pike heads to arm the rebels of the United Irishmen. This demonstration will be an opportunity to see how a pike head would have been made and hear more about the exciting times of 1798 in Ballymoney.

Public demonstrations will take place on Friday 20th in Castlecroft Square from 11am – 4pm, and in Balnamore Community Hall on Saturday 21st from 11am – 5pm. The Ullans Centre will also be joining the activities while other highlights across the two days will be children’s workshops, musket firing demonstrations and re-enactors demonstrating how men would have been drilled.

Everyone is welcome. All events free.