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Travel to Ballymena

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Located in Country Antrim, the current town of Ballymena was built by the Adair family in 1626. It was constructed on land given by King Charles I on the condition that there be two annual fairs and a free market on Saturdays. The market still takes place today. The town is sometimes known as the ‘City of the Seven Towers’. Evidence of settlement in the town dates back to as early as the fifth century, and there are many ringforts located in the vicinity that reflect this. During the 19th century, a gravedigger uncovered a large stone which bared the inscription ‘ord do degen’, which refers to a seventh century bishop in Ireland. The stone can be observed in the porch of the Church of Saint Patrick located in the town. Sites to visit include the People’s Park and The Braid Arts Centre. Famous locals from the town include the Hollywood actor Liam Neeson. The town is also located near Slemish Mountain, where Saint Patrick is said to have worked as a shepherd for six years. It is thought that his time on the mountain led to him praying frequently and, thus, converting to Christianity. Patrick returned to Ireland after he was freed from slavery and converted people on the island. The mountain draws numerous pilgrims and hillwalkers every year, particularly on March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day.