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Cullybackey Main Street

Cullybackey or Cullybacky (from Irish Coill na Baice, meaning 'wood of the river bend')[1] is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies 3 miles north-west of Ballymena, on the banks of the River Main, and is part of Mid and East Antrim district. It is a predominantly Protestant area. It had a population of 2,569 people in the 2011 Census.[2]



Cullybackey was part of the ancient kingdom of Dál nAraidi. Evidence of ancient dwellers in the area have been found throughout the years, including the remains of Crannogs and Souterrains.[3]

Christian Missionary Mackevet erected a monastery in the area. It is said that when Mackevet first approached the Irish Chieftain MacAfee about this matter the two began to argue over it and Mackevet, who was a large man raised his fist into the chieftains face and said "I'm a man of peace, but smell that MacAfee". This won him the argument and the monastery was built, supplying the area with a place of learning for many centuries afterwards.[4] In 1778 a corps was raised by John Dickey of Cullybackey House, They named themselves 'The Cullybackey Volunteers'.[5] In 1847, the village contained 235 residents and contained about 50 houses.[5]

Notable Cullybackey peopleEdit

Places of interestEdit

  • Arthur Cottage, the ancestral home of Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the United States, from 1881 to 1885, is close to the village, on the B62 road from Ballymena. It is a restored 18th-century farmhouse with open flax-straw thatched roof. Usually open to the public through the spring and summer months but currently closed until further notice due to extensive damage caused by fire in 2011.
  • The old Methodist church on the banks of the river was opened in 1839 as the Original Secession Church. It later became the United Free Church of Scotland. When the United Free clergy withdrew from Ireland in 1923, the congregation became Methodists.
  • The Cunningham Memorial Presbyterian Church
  • Craigs Church of Ireland, which was designed by celebrated 19th-century architect Sir Charles Lanyon and built in 1840. Attached to the church is a very old graveyard which contains 'The Strangers Plot', where the poor of the parish where buried, including those who lost their lives in the parish during the Great Famine (Ireland)
  • Cullybackey Millennium Riverwalk [7]
  • Galgorm Resort and Spa
  • Craigdun Castle, a 19th-century Scottish baronial castle that is set a mile outside the village. Believed to have been designed by Charles Lanyon, it was left to the NHS as a home for multiple sclerosis sufferers in the 1950s and continued in this role until the 1990s, when it was sold by the NHS. The current owners have extensively renovated the property and gardens, and in 2011 the house was a finalist in the BBC Northern Ireland House of the Year programme.


The first sod on the Belfast railway line was turned in 1845 and the line from Ballymena to Portrush was completed in 1855 [8]

The railway line is still well used by the population of Cullybackey today with trains stopping at the station almost hourly throughout the day. On 24 March 2000, a woman died after a collision involving a passenger train and her car at a level crossing at Station Road, Cullybackey. None of the 88 passengers on board the train travelling from Belfast to Derry were hurt. [9]


  • Cullybackey College is a secondary school in the village.
  • Buick Memorial Primary School is also located on Main Street.

Societies and GroupsEdit

  • Cullybackey Development Agency
  • 1st Cullybackey Scout Group - this Scout group was established in 1936. Currently they have over 120 members who meet weekly in The Cunningham Memorial church hall.
  • 1st Cullybackey Rainbows, Brownies, Guides & Senior Section - members meet weekly in The Cunningham Memorial church hall. Currently have over 100 members.
  • Cullybackey Girls Brigade - established in 1958 by Miss Maureen Anderson (now Boreland) and Miss Emma Boreland (now Hemphill). They currently have over 70 members who meet in the Cullybackey Methodist Church Hall on Monday nights.[10]
  • Cullybackey Boys Brigade - members meet weekly in Cullybackey Methodist Church Hall.
  • Cullybackey Detachment, Army Cadet Force (ACF) youth organisation meet weekly in Cullybackey College.
  • Cullybackey and District Historical Society - the society was established in February 2012 and holds public meetings on the third Thursday of the month from September to May.[11]
  • Cullybackey Pipe Band - a multi-award-winning Pipe Band, known for its talented drummers. They compete and perform all year round, both locally and further afield. It is divided into two bands, grade four and grade one and between the two has over 80 members.
  • Cullybackey Maine Defenders - a loyalist band which was re-established in 2008. The band is made up of drummers, Fluters, Bassdrummers and the Colour Party and attend many loyalist band parades during the Marching season. The band folded in 2016.
  • Cullybackey LOL 696 Flute Band - a loyalist band which was established in 2014. The band is made up of drummers, Fluters, Bassdrummers and the Colour Party and attend many loyalist band parades during the Marching season.


2011 CensusEdit

It had a population of 2,569 people (1,088 households) in the 2011 Census.[2] On Census day in 2011:

2001 CensusEdit

Cullybackey is classified as an intermediate settlement by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e., with population between 2,250 and 4,500 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 2,405 people living in Cullybackey. Of these:

  • 19.5% were aged under 16 and 22.3% were aged 60 and over
  • 47.1% of the population were male and 52.9% were female
  • 1.2% were from a Catholic background and 97.0% were from a Protestant background
  • 3.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service


In August 2005, the local Catholic church was attacked.[12] 17 February 2008 a house of a Polish family was attacked.[13] An upsurge in anti social behaviour and violence has been linked to paramilitary groups in the village.[14] However, after an investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland a statement was issued by a local police inspector who denied that paramilitaries were involved.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ [1] Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Cullybackey". Census 2011 Results. NI Statistics and Research Agency. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  3. ^ W. J., Knowles (April 1905). "Souterrains at Cullybackey, in the County of Antrim". Ulster Journal of Archaeology. Second. 11: 51–54. JSTOR 20566211.
  4. ^ Shaw, William (1912). Cullybackey and District. Ballymena Borough Council. p. 4.
  5. ^ a b Lewis, Samuel (1837). A topographical dictionary of Ireland. S. Lewis, 1837. p. 443.
  6. ^ "Ask About Ireland – Irish Scientists – Matilda Knowles". Ask About Ireland – Irish Scientists. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Maine Riverside". Walk NI. 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  8. ^ Cullybackey and District by William Shaw
  9. ^ "BBC News | NORTHERN IRELAND | Crash victim's name released". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  10. ^ "Cullybackey Girls Brigade makes the big five-oh!". Ballymena Times. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  11. ^ "Cullybackey and District Historical Society". Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  12. ^ "News". An Phoblacht. 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  13. ^ "Polak na Wyspie - Koktajlem Mołotowa w Polaków - strona 1" (in Polish). 2008-02-17. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  14. ^ "Paramilitary link to street violence - Belfast Newsletter". 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  15. ^ "'No paramilitaries' involved in Cullybackey fracas - DPP told". Ballymena Times. Retrieved 2015-10-22.

External linksEdit