Today’s townland is Ballyholme, in Bangor, County Down.  Ballyholme is the built-up hinterland of the large sweeping bay in the lower half of this photograph.

BangorThe whole of that bay is known as “Ballyholme Bay”, but the townland itself only includes the streets between Waverley Avenue and Ballymaconnell Road.  Ballyholme townland doesn’t extend out to the eastern headland, which is in Ballymacormick townland, or the western headland, which is in Corporation (the townland for Bangor town centre).

North Down Coast Path sign - east of Bangor The origin of the name Ballyholme is not clear.  The suggestions on the PLACENAMESNI website involve either the surname Holm or Holmes, or the word “holm” meaning “river meadow”.

It may once have been a meadow, but as you saw from the aerial shot, most of Ballyholme is now a built-up residential area.  The townland spreads as far inland as the East Circular Road A2 dual carriageway, with a school and a church both named after Saint Columbanus.

Bangor map St ColumbanusIn 1903, builders working near the shore at Ballyholme found two 9th century brooches and a bowl.  According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1906 edition), the items were probably connected with the cremated burial of a Viking, more likely to have been a member of a raiding band than a settler in Ireland.  Brooches were worn by both men and women, but the absence of weapons suggested that this was the grave of a woman.

A thousand years after the Vikings, visitors were crowding into Ballyholme again as the opening of Bangor railway station in 1865 brought holiday-makers from Belfast to enjoy the seaside.

Ballyholme EsplanadeThe next photo shows a 19th century grave in Bangor Abbey graveyard for the Alexander family of Ballyholme.

Grave for Alexander family of Ballyholme in BangorIn the 20th century, my parents’ generation spent many evenings dancing in Caproni’s Ballroom in Ballyholme Bay.  The ballroom has gone, replaced by apartments.

Ballyholme from BallymacormickThe 21st century visitor to Ballyholme can try kite-surfing.

Ballyholme kitesurfersThe next image of the sign for Ballyholme Yacht club is actually in Corporation townland.

Ballyholme YC signBut I must mention the yacht club because they run this great sea-swimming event in Ballyholme Bay every Monday evening over the summer.  Click here for details if you feel like joining the next swim!

Ballyholme swimmers


more information

Which county is Ballyholme in? County Down

Which civil parish is Ballyholme in?  Bangor

Which townlands border Ballyholme?   To the west, into the town of Bangor, Corporation.  To the east, on the coast, Ballymacormick.  Inland, to the east, Ballymaconnell.   Inland, to the south, Ballymagee.

Click here to see a map of Ballyholme on Townlands.IE.

And finally, click here to read about the townland name on PLACENAMESNI.ORG.


  1. This is great to know, really enjoyed your post. Fantastic memories of Ballyholme as a child taken there by parents for Sunday outings. Something occurred to me as I am currently reading Thomas Williams’s History of Viking Britain and he mentions that ‘holm’ is Old Norse for island or a meeting place near water. Especially in light of the Viking finds! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post thank you! I’ve lots of great memories of day trips to Ballyholme- just happen to be reading Thomas Williams’s History of Viking Britain and apparently Old Norse word ‘holm’ means island or meeting place near water which is interesting given the Viking remains unearthed there.

    Liked by 1 person

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