History behind a hidden gem in Ballymena revealed

A specially commissioned film marking European Heritage Open Days 2021 and the Tercentenary of St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland in Ballymena, can be viewed online from September 6.

The short film focuses on the history of the Old Church Yard in the centre of the town, and highlights shared aspirations for the future regeneration of the site as an inclusive shared space. Entitled ‘If These Stones Could Speak’, the film has been created by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Church. It includes drone photography to show off the scale of the site and its location at the heart of Ballymena’s shopping district. The history of the site is also explored as the location of St Patrick’s predecessor church, consecrated in 1721, and a vision for its future is shared.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, commented: “The Old Church Yard features one of Ballymena’s famous Seven Towers and is an oasis of calm surrounded by the busy everyday life of the town. I am delighted that our film features in this year’s European Heritage Open Days campaign, particularly as 2021 marks St Patrick’s 300th Anniversary of Christian witness in Ballymena.

“Council recognises the unique value of this site. We are currently working up plans to improve the accessibility and safety of the Old Church Yard, including the resurfacing of the entrance avenue and paths around the church site, installing lighting and seating, and undertaking any necessary remedial works to ensure that the site is safe to use, and that the church tower is conserved.“

Old Church Yard in Ballymena. Photo credit: Mid-Antrim Museum Collection (Mid and East Antrim Borough Council)

The film will be available online from September 6-12 in this year’s European Open Days e-brochure. A free St. Patrick’s Church Tercentenary commemorative brochure produced with support of Council is also available.