Ballymoney claims links with The Ancient Kingdom of Dalriada and the names of many buildings in the town still have the link including “Riada House” the seat of the Ballymoney Borough Council. For that reason Mayor Bill Kennedy, the last first citzen of Ballymoney, has recorded the Royal descent from Dalriada Kings to the present Queen as a parting gift. Mayor Kennedy met up with The Great Chieftain and Defender of the Causeway Coast, Sorley Boy McDonnell (aka Martin, Sheans Heritage Centre) to look back on the towns ancient links and to present the unique Heritage Centre with a framed certificate on the Royal descent from the Kings of Dalriada.
When the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Ballymoney as part of the Royal Couple’s Coronation Tour of Northern Ireland they were greeted by thousands of North Antrim people. Children screamed their welcome and adults waved and cheered in a packed railway station. Mrs Grace Leslie, Leslie Hill, presented the Ballymoney Urban council’s gift, “The Queen’s Book” to Her Majesty, tracing the Queen’s links back to the ancient Kings of Dalriada and declaring Ballymoney to be the centre of the district formerly known as Dalriada.
In the late-sixteenth century the Clan McQuillan joined forces with the feared O’Neills, based by the English, to overthrow the powerful MacDonnells and cement their dominance and influence in North Antrim. Today in a real “game of thrones” experience you can relive the regions turbulent and epic history by walking in the footsteps of the Clans on Slieveanorra in the precincts of Sorley Boy’s Castle, a short distance from Ballymoney.
Commenting on the town’s unique history Mayor Kennedy, on one of his last civic engagements said: “Ballymoney is one of the oldest towns in Ireland with a long and unique history. We need to hang our hat on what makes us different, promote and conserve the towns’s strong cultural heritage. I think particularly of Ulster Scots and Motorcycling, as well as our historic townscape character. The town masterplan we put in place last year with the proposals identified will help the town be distinctive and differentiate itself and continue to grow and prosper offering a unique shopping and visitor experience.”