Ballygally lies a few miles from Larne on the coast road to Glenarm, located in the Parish of Cairncastle (Cairn of the Castle) which derives its name from the old castle on the rock island near Ballygally Head.
The castle is sometimes referred to as O’Halloran’s Castle and is said to have been the home of a poet named Agnew at some time in its past. The stone ruins were originally built by the Anglo Norman Duncan Fitzgilbert who was given lands here in the early 13th century.
The small village is home to Ballygally Castle, a classic example of a Scottish baronial house. Built in 1625 by James Shaw who arrived here in 1606 from Greenock during the Plantation of Ulster. In 1621 a grant was made to him by the Earl of Antrim of land which included 120 acres at Carnfunnock and 80 acres at Corkermain and Ballyruther. Today the land at Carnfunnock is part of the well used Carnfunnock Country Park.
This castle was a fortified residence and would have originally had four walls around it much like the remains we see of the bawns, the musket loop holes indicate the seriousness of the times. It was used as refuge on several occassions, during the 1640s rebellion it withstood several attempts to take it by an Irish garrison from Glenarm.
The castle remained in the Shaw family into the 1800s, then passed through a couple of families until it was acquired in the 1950s by Cyril Lord, he was an entrepreneur who was widely know for carpet manufacturing. He refurbished the castle and opened it up as a hotel, then in 1966 it was bought by the Hastings group who developed the hotel to what we see today.
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