Celebrating industrial heritage in Mid and East Antrim

Rachel McNabb


Rachel McNabb

MID and East Antrim Borough Council is gearing up to celebrate the borough’s industrial heritage.

From May 23 – 29 May council will run a series of special heritage and industrial themed events to mark the occasion including a special Red Hills half-day tour of the iron ore mines around Cargan and Glenravel.

The tour by local local historian and mines expert, Kevin O’Hagan, will take place on Friday, May 27 from 10am.

Skerry Road East, perhaps the least busy road in Northern Ireland, is part of the Dungonnell Trail but it also runs past the evidence of this area’s industrial past.

If you’ve ever driven out of Cargan and on towards Cushendall and Waterfoot you will have seen the signs of railway lines in the valley below.

An article, which sets this story in context, first appeared in its entirety in The Glynns Volume 8 (1980) and is currently hosted online via the website of the Glens of Antrim Historical Society. It is drawn from the ‘Iron Mines of Glenravel’ by Kevin J. O’Hagan.

“Within the last two years an extensive and valuable iron mine was discovered at Glenravil about 7 miles from Ballymena by James Fisher Esq. of Cleggan Lodge near this town and of Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire. Under the energetic management of this enterprising gentleman it was opened about 18 months ago,” so read the editorial of the Ballymena Observer, Saturday, July 25th, 1868, commemorating the opening of the first of the Glenravel iron ore mines

For the tour a minibus will leave from and return to Houston’s Mill car park, Broughshane. Prior booking is required, with a cost of £5.00 payable on the day contact: 028 2563 5029 (Mon–Wed) email braidmuseum@midandeastantrim.gov.uk

Commenting on Industrial Heritage Week Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey said: “Council museums care for a number of local artefacts from our industrial past and we are inviting you to celebrate with us how Mid and East Antrim has been shaped by industry.

“Our borough has a rich industrial history with the echoes of our industrial past all around us in our rural landscape, and in our towns and villages. From the tales of iron ore miners in the Glens and limestone quarrying at Carnlough and Glenarm to the multi-nationals such as ICI, Courtaulds and Michelin, they are woven into our sense of place and something that should be celebrated.”

As part of Industrial Heritage Week there will also be ‘Tales Shaped by Industry’ interactive story telling for families will take place at The Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall from 11.15am to 12.15pm on Saturday 28 May for 7–11 year olds. Storyteller Karen Edwards will be telling tales inspired by local industries. This event is being presented with Carnlough Community Association. To book for the events please contact 028 2563 5029 (Mon–Wed) or email braidmuseum@midandeastantrim. gov.uk

The local salt mines exhibition will run at Carrickfergus Museum. With the help of Irish Salt Mining Co. Ltd, Kilroot, this exhibition highlights the history of this local industry, exploring developments in technology and final use.

A unique presentation of photographs of the Aluminium Works in Larne is open to all on Saturday 21 May from 11am – 11.45pm, and again from 1pm – 1.45pm. This is a free event, contact Larne Museum & Arts Centre to book 028 28 262443 email marian.kelso@midandeastantrim .gov.uk

There will also be evocative memories of the days of steam at Whitehead Railway Museum. On Monday 23 and Wednesday 25 May the museum will be launching two online video shorts showing behind in the scenes at their engineering workshops. A special Steam and Jazz mainline train, starting and finishing at Belfast on Friday 27 May will visit Whitehead, and on Saturday 28 May there will be steam train rides at the museum.

For more details of all events, check out the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland website at www.steamtrainsireland.com

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