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.
The 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).
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.
In 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.
But 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!
Which county is Ballyholme in? County Down
Which civil parish is Ballyholme in? Bangor