Today’s townland is Ballymagee in Bangor, County Down. According to the website of the Northern Ireland Place-Name Project, the name comes from the Irish Baile Mhig Aodha meaning ‘Magee’s townland’. The Magees may have been tenants renting land from the monastery at Bangor.
Usually I include an image of the townland name in use on a signpost, but I had two problems this week. First, there are no streets called Ballymagee. Second, I haven’t been to Bangor since lockdown began. So I’m left with gravestones that I photographed back in 2016 in the churchyard at Bangor Abbey, for the Russell family and the Erskine family.
I plan to add a picture of Ballymagee Primary School when lockdown is over, but I’m ninety years too late to find Ballymagee Street. Until 1926 there was indeed a Ballymagee Street in Bangor, but it’s now called High Street. The council changed the name in response to a request from the residents. One councillor stated that he had been approached by quite a number of shopkeepers, “who wanted to give the street a better name, because it was going to be one of the important business thoroughfares of Bangor”. The local newspaper reported that:
“Ballymagee, while an excellent title for a rural road, is wanting in appropriateness now that the street is assuming substantial importance as a business artery. “High Street” is brief, impressive and business-like.”
Away from the business-like streets, the eastern boundary of Ballymagee is the Cotton river. I was able to follow the river by walking through Linear Park.
I’m using these images of the park rather than the ring road. You probably do want to know that Ballymagee stretches from the Gransha Road roundabout to the Donaghadee Road roundabout, but isn’t it nicer to look at pictures from the park?
Sandra A Millsopp contributed a chapter on the history of Ballymagee to the book Townlands in Ulster, Local History Studies, edited by W H Crawford and R H Foy (Ulster Historical Foundation & Federation for Ulster Local Studies, 1998).
Which county is Ballymagee in? County Down
Which civil parish is Ballymagee in? Bangor