Castle Directory

Northern Irish Castles

Scots American Travel Advisors represent Castle properties in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland:

Ballygally Castle Hotel - Larne/Co Antrim





Ballygally Castle

Ballygally Castle is 26 miles north of Belfast, 6 miles north of Larne on Antrim Coast Road. From Belfast take the M2, exit J5. Travel along the A8 to Larne, then A2 to Ballygally.

Situated on the scenic Antrim Coast Road, facing eastwards across Ballygally Bay with views to Scotland, at the southerly end of the famous Nine Glens of Antrim.

Belfast International Airport - 30 miles. Belfast City Airport - 28 miles. Nearest ferry terminal in Larne - is six miles away.

Ideally located on the scenic Antrim coast only 20 miles from Belfast and close to Larne, the Ballygally Castle hotel faces the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay and is an ideal base for touring. The Ballygally Castle dates back to 1625 and the hotel is unique in that it is the only 17th Century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today!

This enchanting hotel is full of character and charm and has recently undergone extensive refurbishment, with the addition of 20 new deluxe bedrooms (including disabled access), bringing the total number of bedrooms to 44. The many original features and antique furnishings give the hotel a feeling of stylish living in the last century and add to the unique welcoming atmosphere!

The famous "Nine Glens of Antrim" and the Giant's Causeway are near at hand and the superb scenery can be enjoyed from many coastal and glen walks. Whether you want to celebrate a special occasion or just get away from it all and relax in style - whatever the reason or season, the Ballygally will be delighted to welcome you! Complimentary car parking at the front of the hotel.

Ballygally Castle was built in 1625 by James Shaw and his wife Isabella Brisbane. Over the main entrance door to the Castle, leading to the tower is the inscription "1625 - GOD.IS.PROVIDENS.IS.MY.INHERITANS". Above this is a shield with the coats of arms of the Shaw and Brisbane families and the letters J.S and I.B. which represented their initials.

James Shaw, a native of Greenock, Scotland, came to Ireland in 1606 to seek his fortune. After Shaw came to the Ballygally area in 1613, he came into possession of a sub-grant of land, at the low rent of 24 pounds Sterling yearly, from the Earl of Antrim. It was on this land the castle was built.

It is probable that the original building was more extensive than what remains of the ancient Castle, for it served as a place of refuge for the Protestants during the Civil Wars. During the rebellion of 1641 the Irish garrison stationed at Glenarm tried on many occasions to take the castle, but they never were successful in gaining entry.

Ballygally passed through many troubles and was used again as a fortress as late as the eighteenth century. Towards the middle of the 18th century considerable addition was made to the castle buildings as the squire, one Henry Shaw, married a Miss Hamilton, who had two sisters and they all came to live within the castle.

During this time the castle was handed down from fathers to sons and in 1799 passed to William Shaw, who was the last squire of Ballygally. In the early 1800s the Shaw family lost their lands and wealth and the estate was sold to the Agnew family for 15,400.

The castle was for several years occupied as a coastguard station, and then once again as a private residence by Reverend Classon Porter and his family who resided there for many years. It was then taken over by the Moore family who eventually sold it to textile millionaire Mr. Cyril Lord in the early nineteen fifties, who refurbished it as a hotel. The Hastings Hotel Group purchased the hotel from Cyril Lord in 1966 for 40,000 and have over the years undertaken a series of major refurbishment programs.

The Castle Construction
When the castle was built it was know that the country was unsettled, so it was designed as a place of defense as well as one of residence. The castle was built with mostly local stone and in the style of a French chateau, with high walls, steep roof, dormer windows and corner turrets. The walls were about 5 feet thick, with loopholes for musketry. The stairs were of stone and spiral. Through the outer hall ran an open stream of water for the use of inmates in case of siege, and above the dormer windows were carvings which are still traceable. Outside were originally two courtyards, one surrounded by high walls, and the other inside the higher walls. The inner courtyard was marked by two stone pillars surmounted by round stone balls. Inside the courtyard were stables, coach houses, byres, sheep pens, brew-house and dovecot. Outside the courtyard there was a wash-house; scutch-mill and in the little glen on the other side of the river was a corn mill. Today, Ballygally Castle is much enlarged and modernized with 44 luxurious en-suite bedrooms, however the old Castle has been preserved and it retains many of its original features, including turretted bedrooms.

The Ghost
Every castle has to have a ghost of some kind, and the ghost of Ballygally has been around for the best part of 400 years! The popular theory is that the ghost is that of Lady Isobella Shaw, wife of Lord James Shaw. Lord Shaw wanted a son, and when his wife delivered his heir, he snatched the baby from his wife and locked her in a room at the top of the castle. While trying to escape to search for her beloved child, Lady Isobella fell to her death from the tower window! Another theory is that she was actually thrown from the window by the cruel Lord Shaw or one of his henchmen!

Lady Isobella's ghost is reputed to be a "friendly" spirit who walks the corridors of the old castle. Over the years many guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms! There are also endless stories of unexplained noises in the night, and an eerie green mist over the castle! The hotel is so fiercely proud of their permanent resident they have even given her her own bedroom, "The Ghost Room" in one of the towers in the oldest part of the castle.

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