Slemish Mountain / Broughshane
Broughshane, Ballymena, County Antrim.
The charming village of Broughshane is set in the beautiful Braid Valley, located some three miles east of the town of Ballymena.
Known as the ‘Garden village of Ulster’, Broughshane is well renowned for its budding floral successes, having won the Ulster in Bloom, Britain in Bloom, the European Entente Floral and Nations in Bloom awards many times over..
Things to see and do:
There is plenty to do and see within this beautiful area: Visit the famous Glens of Antrim, play golf at the wonderful 18 hole Ballymena Golf Course, fish in the Braid River or walk the historic Slemish mountain – a traditional place of pilgrimage.
While in the area be sure to pay a visit to the quaint pub, The Thatch Inn. Originally a planter’s house, it has a thatched roof and is a Grade A listed building. It was originally a planter’s house. The local Masonic Lodge used to meet upstairs in The Thatch. Now a Masonic Hall built in 1904 stands next to the pub.
The nearby People’s Park is also a popular location, with much to offer its visitors all year round. The park boasts a children’s play area, tennis courts, bowling green, picnic areas and toilets. The park’s pavilion at the centre of the site, overlooks a large lake inhabited by a range of wild ducks and geese. During the summer months it hosts a wide range of major events including the annual outdoor children’s art festival.
Broughshane was the ancestral home of Sir George White VC, the most decorated soldier in the British Army and the hero of the Siege of Ladysmith. There is a memorial in the Presbyterian Church graveyard.
His son, Captain James Robert “Jack” White, co-founded and drilled the Irish Citizen Army before the Easter Rising of 1916 and later went on to fight the Fascist Regime in the Spanish Civil War.
The 1859 Ulster Revival, known as ‘the Great Awakening’, had a profound effect upon the local community. Starting with emotional scenes in the local Raceview Spinning Mill the outbreak of spiritual revival spread around the district. Large crowds gathered outside the local Presbyterian Church. Many of the 4,000 crowd were converted to faith in Jesus Christ. The outcome of that revival resulted in a new Presbyterian church being built in the village. The two churches remain with strong congregations today.
Life and Legend
The great volcanic plug of Slemish is impossible to miss. It was originally the centre of a volcano and volcanic plugs are always harder than the mixture of lava and ash that forms their sides. The last ice age wiped away the rest of the mountain leaving the steep sided plug of its core that still stands over 400 metres high. In most of the great places we have visited the great rock outcrops dominate the sea, but here Slemish dominates the flat surrounding land. Its worldwide fame grows by the year.
In the traditions of Irish Christianity, a young man named Maewyn Succat (pronounced MY WIN SUCK IT) herded sheep here until he was 22, the slave of the chieftain Milchu. Succat was captured on an Irish raid into Wales and then sold as a slave. In the lonely hours on the mountain, Succat turned to prayer, communing with nature and begging for help from God. One night he had a vision. He was encouraged to escape and return home to become a priest. He managed to escape and get passage to Wales, using silver to pay the boatman that he had stolen from his owner. The silver was stamped Patricius, the name of the Roman moneyer who had made the silver ingots and from these he took his new name, Patrick. After years of study, he did become a priest and returned to convert the Irish to Christianity. His own real conversion took place when he wandered Slemish, out in all weathers, far from his home, but close to everything and praying constantly for guidance. Slemish Mountain is open all year round and on St. Patrick’s Day, large crowds hike to the top of the mountain as a pilgrimage.
The countryside is made of stone. From Broughshane to The Sheddings and further towards the Glens, there are thousands of small fields, all enclosed with beautifully neat stone walls. The area is full of prehistoric monuments, from the giant portal grave of Ticloy to a cashel, a Celtic Circular stone fort in perfect condition that a Victorian farmer planted out with damson trees. This is the farmland upland Glens, so different from the blanket bog of the highlands.
Broughshane is the Garden Village of Ulster because of its constant beautiful apearance and its many awards, including the overall Britain in Bloom award. Broughshane was originally Sean’s mansion, a legendary figure who is all but forgotten. Even though he is lost in the mists of time, it is no surprise he settled here. The approaches to the village are filled with mature trees and the village itself is prettiness itself. There are many listed buildings in the village, but the Thatch Inn is one that you can visit. It was originally a planter’s house, dating from the early 1600s and one of the first Masonic Lodges in Ulster used to meet upstairs. One of Broughshane’s famous sons was Sir George White, the most decorated soldier in the British Army and the hero of the Siege of Ladysmith. There is a memorial to him in the Presbyterian Church graveyard.
Video produced by Ambient Light Productions with video poster image from Tourism NI.