Ballymoney on top of the world

Great to see that Ballymoney is right up there almost with Japan in the world tables of life expectancy. It’s not a comparison we’re used to, but we can make the link if we compare World Health Organisation figures out today with Irish Public Health institute results last week.

Their quality of life is so high in the north Antrim Shangri-la that men can expect to reach an average age of 78.1 years; while women live, on average, to the grand old age of 82.4.

The average life expectancy for the whole of Northern Ireland, stands at 75.9 years for men, and 80.6 years for women.

The all-Ireland life expectancy is 75.6 years for males and 80.6 years for females. “

So it would seem the Celtic Tiger’s slightly greater prosperity doesn’t give them the edge on how long they live.

The World Health Organisation study tells a story that won’t surprise us. Social injustice kills and is widening on a grand scale although it’s conceded that in rich countries the bottom rung has been raised.

“In every society there is a substantial gap between the life expectancy of the children of the most affluent and privileged, and those who are born into deprivation. But some countries are better than others at closing the gap.”

The salutary point is that if two people live only a mile or two apart, one in the inner city, the other in the leafy suburbs, life can be much longer in the leafy suburbs. So in Britain: “A boy in the suburb of Calton, Glasgow, can expect to live 28 years less than one raised in Lenzie, a few miles away. One born in Hampstead, London, will live around 11 years longer than a boy from St Pancras, five stops away on the Northern line of the underground.” So life expectancy in Lenzie is much higher than the average, at 82 for men. Healthy suburbanites everywhere can I presume, look forward to a similar result.

I wonder how wide the gap is between say Ardoyne in north Belfast and Ballyclare?

  • Rory

    A man may survive to a greater age in the suburbs but would we call it life?

  • BfB

    Quality of life is the secret. My grandmother lived happily to 92, my mother suffered for the last 8 to 84. If I start ailing, it’s back to socialist Assachusetts, that’ll end it quickly.

    Feel free to start a pool…

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Ah, too much of the high living may be a factor regarding the south. All that rich food and drink is so bad for the cholestral and blood pressure!

    Stay off the smokes if one wants to live a long life!

  • Ulsters my homeland

    It’s the cow dung in the air that does it, hi.

  • Ann

    A lot of people in poorer areas contribute to their own state of bad health. for example I know of one person a friend from child hood who gambles and drinks away all their money with a result that they has no money left for a proper diet or electricity to heat their home. No electricity or heat all year round including our horrible winters, no proper meals – save the odd meal bought at the local hospital cafeteria.

    Yet my friend receives a lot of money in state benefits, more than I do by working. Poverty is indeed relative, and while I’m not saying that this is the case for everybody it is the case for a certain amount of people.

    Add that together with the food stocked in stores in some of our inner cities and it will contribute to an unhealthy life. Proper food will be found in better areas where stores are stocked with fresh food, rather than the food deserts of our inner cities. Try going to Dunnes at the Park centre when you next visit the RVH and see what they stock, then go to M&S;and see what I mean. It’s a useful social experiement for any shopper..

  • Nice to see my native city still setting the pace on ill-health & social exclusion……

    Calton being the original irish ghetto in Glasgow (complete coincidence that of course)

  • Greenflag

    Interesting that of the countries with the longest life expectancies the top seven are all countries with what the Americans call ‘socialised medecine ‘ i.e the Health care system is either controlled by the State or is largely regulated by the State with health care access to all regardless of income or previous conditions .

    Averages are of course just that . I’m sure that if one breaks down the average by social class, and income in all the countries mentioned that you would see disparities because of life styles , ethnicity , race ,education , stress factors , levels of obesity , etc.

    I believe ‘genetics ‘ has to be a major factor in how long somebody lives . How somebody chooses to live and where may determine for how much and how long the ‘genetics’ will be allowed to
    maximise their potential Imo .

    Whether life is worth living of course depends very much on the liver 🙂 .

    Imagine the life of a lichen – clinging to a rock for a century or more ? Why would a lichen want to live and yet they do . Life is tenacious and we all want to live – lichen or lounge lizard- louse or louser – unionist or nationalist .

    Life is not a dress rehearsal so enjoy it while you can and help your fellow humans do the same.

  • Rory

    Why would anyone choose to shop at “M&S;near the RVH” when Fortnum & Mason is but a short plane hop away?

  • Ann

    Rory, since you can’t read I hereby recommend an orgasmic diet which would help improve your eyesight:-)

  • Glencoppagagh

    Maybe longevity in B’money has something to do with its Bible belt location (no smoking or drinking) but they’re just as likely to be obese, perhaps more so. Gluttony is not a sin apparently.

  • mac

    Isn’t the famed “Ulster fry” part of the diet in Ballymoney? Two eggs, rashers, sausages, wheaten bread and a soda farl on the side. How are they managing to escape the vein ravaging effects? Maybe there’s something in the water … or it might be the cow dung right enough … hard to say really.

  • Try going to Dunnes at the Park centre when you next visit the RVH and see what they stock, then go to M&S;and see what I mean

    Middle-class tosh – there’s plenty of fresh fruit and veg in Dunne’s. There’s even plenty in ALDI, as I’m fortunate enough to live near ALDI’s fine Shore Road emporium and benefit from their fine fresh veg selection.

    As for why the people of the Falls shop at Dunne’s rather than M&S;, have you ever looked at the price difference?

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    So wealthy people live longer than poor people; who thought we’d all live to see such pronouncements in our time?

  • Harry Flashman

    Of course Ann makes a valid point for which the Tories got lambasted when they made it. Poverty and ill health are inextricably linked but often – often, not always, often – are the self inflicted results of some spectacularly wrong headed and downright stupid lifestyle choices. Until we have the courage to address this issue honestly no amount of taxpayers billions thrown at the problem will alleviate the problem one iota.

  • L Fahy

    If you are interested in finding out male and female life expectancy figures by Local Government District in Northern Ireland or by county in the Republic of Ireland, log onto These are the data that were produced by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland. You can also download the report at
    The report finds that Belfast has the lowest male life expectancy of 73.5 years and Ballymoney has the highest male life expectancy of 78.1 years. Derry has the lowest female life expectancy of 79.3 years and Ballymoney also has the highest female life expectancy of 82.4 years. In the Republic of Ireland Roscommon has the highest male and female life expectancy of 76.9 and 82.2 years respectively. Limerick has the lowest male life expectancy of 72.8 years.

  • mac

    Wealthy people do live longer – less stress. Unless you live in Brazil of course, where your son and heir is liable to kidnapped for extortion purposes.

    In the US the death rate for the urban poor is higher than for the well heeled. Many lack the funds for decent health care, but it goes beyond that to basic nutritional deficits due to lack of information and lack of coin. The daily fast-food take-out and soda is a staple for many. The end result of such a diet is weight gain and in some cases obesity … not exactly a life extender.

  • Ann

    Actually Sammy I visited Dunnes only a few days ago when coming from the rvh and I can tell you quite honestly that the bulk of their fare was stoge, crisps and what I’d call stocking fillers. Very little fresh fruit and veg – whole sections of display refrigeration was taken up with small bottles of high sugar lemonade. At first I thought it was going out of business it was so badly stocked, but one of the taxi men informed me it had been like that for a while now.

    However the point I was making was indeed about life style choices, there are an awful lot of people out there making an awful lot of bad choices and then crying woe is me over the consequences.

  • Harry Flashman

    I had a very good friend who worked for Dunnes in the 1990’s and she told me that their best sellers were frozen chips and Coca Cola.

    Now if their customers were clamouring for wholemeal bread, brown rice and tofu I’m fairly certain Margaret Heffernan would have been delighted to sell it to them at very competitive prices.

    It’s time to start treating people like adults and if they make shite life choices well is it the responsibility of the rest of us to subsidise the consequences?

  • Rory

    Well here is one poor man with a short life expectancy who is quite willing to admit that it is all down to my poor life-style choices. As a younger eligible male I absolutely refused to attend at hunt balls and so deprived myself of the choice of meeting and marrying a well-heeled heiress.

  • Ann

    Harry’s right, it’s supply and demand. However leftists governments adopted the phrase food desert suggesting it’s either access or cost is the problem for the poor choices made by people, but in reality stores are only supplying what their customers want. Until that changes, theres not much point in throwing more money at the problem.

    People must make choices what to spend their money on, if its smoking drinking drugs or stoge then their health will suffer. It’s time to grow up.

  • RK


    Seriously. Think about it. ‘Choices!’ Who in the name of god would actually ‘choose’ to have a crap sick life and die 10 years before everyone else! So what are you saying – all those people living in Sweden/Norway etc – deserve to live longer because they’re better people? Here’s a suggestion – if it is about ‘choice’ WHY do people here choose to kill themselves off early? Natural selection maybe?

    Here’s a thought – maybe there is another reason? Or a number of reasons? And i bet if you can be bothered to look into it at all you’ll find money, education etc all to be at the bottom of it – or rather lack of

  • rk

    PS – only people with money get the luxury of real choices – to even consider the possibility of going to university etc. Did anyone actually bother to read that WHO report before spouting off? Or did they ‘choose’ not to!?

  • BfB


    If you take responsibility for yourself, eating well, not over-anything-ing, you’ll do OK. Not expensive. Money/education has little to do with it. Nanny stater socialist bang the class warfare drum for their own ends…you don’t have to dance to that beat.

  • RK

    Still missing my point here, BfB – so why are more people in Norway/Sweden/Japan etc living longer or as you call it taking responsibility for themselves? take out the whole nanny stater socialist idea – is it fair and are you saying its simply something those who aren’t in this position should sit back and leave the rest to their own ends? The fact that the arguments from those writing this report include the fact that as a nation the UK would have been top of the life expectancy list – but because of a big gap are well down. Suggest you read a bit more:

    And while you are doing it, remember that illiteracy rates in areas of NI and the UK are as high as 25% – North Belfast being particularly bad. Do you really think you’d be that bothered about ‘healthy choices’ if you couldn’t even read or were still ringing the council about that rising damp, before trying to get to the shop for the tea, school to pick up the kids and don’t even talk about trying to pay for the oil. And don’t forget, you can bearly if at all, understand what the letter from the council says.

  • Rory

    “Wealthy people do live longer – less stress. Unless you live in Brazil of course, where your son and heir is liable to kidnapped for extortion purposes.”

    Mac’s above assertion set me to thinking (I know, I know – I’ve already been advised how injurious to one’s health that can be).

    When a rich man’s child is taken hostage their life may become forfeit unless the father can afford the ransom demanded. Might not ever occur to these wealthy men the cruel irony that their refusal to pay just taxes on their income (usually investment, i.e. unearned, income) that might ensure decent social health provision is precisely what delivers the children of the poor taken hostage by life-threatening disease into the hands of death when their fathers cannot afford private health care?

    But then I doubt that the rich indulge in such soul-searching as might threaten their comfort zones.

  • Rory

    Oh, and please, do not anyone (yes, that means you, Harry) come back with heart-warming stories of how some billionaire “personally funded from his own pocket” the transportation of “little Jorge” from Guatemala, who had lost his limbs to a land mine “planted by terrorists”, by private air ambulance to Johns Hopkin Hospital where he was fitted out with new bionic limbs and is expected to soon have a trial for the Boston Celtics.

    Because chances are that:

    1. He did not fund it from his own pocket. It came from his private charity which is funded by unearned investment profits placed there to avoid tax. The bequests from the charity such as this for “little Jorge” are then useful as free propaganda which is used to argue that social health-care is not necessary as there will always be kind Daddy Warbucks like him him around when compassion calls.

    2. The air-ambulance, which is on permanent standby in case he ever gets a hernia climbing off a sixteen year old (provided on his own health plan as “a sexual therapist”), can now enjoy tax free status.

    3. The “terrorist” mine that removed “little Jorge’s” limbs was in fact planted by CIA trained mercenaries and provided by an armaments company in which he is a major shareholder.

    4. He is fat and ugly and frightens children and constantly farts noxious gases that threaten the very future of the planet. **

    **(I made that bit up).

  • PaddyReilly

    bet if you can be bothered to look into it at all you’ll find money, education etc all to be at the bottom of it

    Money isn’t everything, especially not in our society. Personal choice comes into it too. One only has to look at the Queen Mother, who lived to be more than a hundred, her husband (King George VI) who died half a century before her due to smoking and her daughter (Princess Margaret) who died not long after her due to smoking and possibly other indulgences.

    A friend of mine wanted to be macrobiotic and feed her children the same way, but her single parent status made this difficult so she resorted to shoplifting when necessary.

    Meanwhile I am pleased to report that I have found fighi d’India (aka Nopal or prickly pears) in a Lebanese owned shop near me. These fruit have anti-diabetic properties and may, inter alia, help to prolong my lifespan. If I could only get some Philipinos to supply me with banaba I’d be laughing.

    Such exotica are to be recommended to people with a tendency to run to fat, which I believe includes Sammy Morse.

  • BfB

    Norway/Sweden/Japan= responsible minded societies, who raise their children to be responsible…not wanting someone else to raise their children AKA socialist nanny staters. My grandfather could barely speak english when he got here (didn’t make much progress after 50 years too) but we all are doing brilliantly, no welfare, no blaming Boston Brahmins, I don’t buy this robin hood take from the rich to help the poor bullshit. Some poor sods are going to fall by the wayside…. get over it. It’s much better than it was 100 years ago….don’t fix it…evolutionary forces will.

  • Rory

    Paddy Reilly,

    You point to the different life styles of the late Princess Margaret and her late mother Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother as being factors in determining the relatively short life span of the former and the rather longer one of the latter.

    It is true that Princess Margaret was addicted to nicotine and a heavy user of alcohol and cocaine and was well known as leading a somewhat dissolute lifestyle, often blamed on her rebellion at not being permitted to marry the divorcé, Group Captain Peter Townsend (at least not without relinquishing her royal priveleges – the marriage itself could not legally be forbidden).

    Less well known is the Queen Mother’s lifelong addiction to heroin which was distributed to her daily in the form of an injection of the purest diamorphine by a trusted medical orderly of the Scots Guards. Lovely drug – if administered judiciously it has no harmful side effects and the accompanying eradication of stress is positively beneficial and hey! who needs nicotine. The writer Williams Burroughs Jr. also lived well on it – but then he could afford the best too, daddy had a line in adding machines.

    The two things that Princess Margaret and her royal mother had in common is that both their addictive lifestyles and their required supplies (Scotch, fags and nose candy for Yvonne, as the princess was known, and H and G&T;’s for Queen Mum) were funded by the taxpayer. Social health provision in action!


    Many of the people who live in the inner city areas live a shit existence and have little prospects. They will obviously look for some escape in life so you will have heavy smokers and drinkers, more consumption of high cholesterol diets like Ulster fries, chips and take aways. Not very healthy but a bit of comfort when you are stuck in a housing estate or high rise with a few kids. Then money comes into it too. Far cheaper and convenient to feed yourself and the weans on frozen chips, beans and white bread than stand baking a quiche, wholemeal bread and tossing a bean salad all day. It isn’t rocket science. I’d love a job like that, stating the blooming obvious. I mean if we all had the time to work from home, have a leisurely walk, cook a fresh dinner and listen to Radio 3 it would be problem solved. Welcome to the real cruel world. It’s the way it’s always been and it’s the way it will always be.

  • Harry Flashman

    Is there some sort of Godwin’s Law (Gudvinsen’s Law perhaps) that means anyone who mentions how Sweden manages to create a socialist paradise on earth (it isn’t actually) so we should follow them can be safely ignored by the rest of us?

    France has beautiful little roadside restaurants serving gourmet food and glorious wine. Therefore the government should immediately use tax payers’ money to open boutique restaurants along the side of the A5 for the benefit of Aughnacloy’s gourmands. Why not? It works in France.

    And please spare me the life story of poor Consuela, dying of consumption in the favella, it’s sad I know but it isn’t why nasty Roberto is out whacking the kids from the neighbouring drugs gang, it really isn’t, trust me. Scandinavian tax laws aren’t about to turn the Boyz in da Hood into members of the Fabian Society, you’ll just have to accept my word for that.

    If you spend ten quid a day on fags then you’re blowing enough cash to buy you an annuity which would provide you with a pension that would make the average Hampstead Labour voter green with envy.

    If after a half century of the marvellous welfare state you aren’t bright enough to understand simple basic nutrition, the sort of things our grannies took for granted, well a lot of people may be to blame, government run schools, your parents, you, the hopeless NHS perhaps, but I sure as fuck know who isn’t to blame.


  • Kaido

    Ballymoney and Roscommon…..c’mon there must be a catch.
    I have been “fortunate” enough to live in both locations and waking up in either on a wet autumn Sunday it is difficult not to seriously think of terminating the life experience rather than look forward to it lasting longer than any other place on earth.

  • Suilven

    I’m seriously worried about Rory’s mental health after his last 3 contributions.

    Worldview according to Rory:

    1) Rich people deserve to have their first-born slaughtered.

    2) If they give to charity, they’re even bigger b’stards.

    3) The Queen Mother was a smackhead.


  • RK

    Interesting what you said about Norway/Sweden/Japan being responsible minded societies….not wanting someone else to raise their children AKA socialist nanny staters. Not very informed are you? Or familiar with the Swedish Social Democratic Part either? Perhaps heard of Norway’s ‘egalitarian’ values?! The wages of lowest paid workers in Norway and the CEO’s of most companies are closer than anywhere else in Europe. Hospital Cleaner, Hospital Clerk and Doctor are all within a closer wage bracket – in the middle, and hence tend to live in the same areas. – Less people on the bottom of society and less people on the top – more equal in the middle. So… not perfect, higher costs of living BUT still less crime etc than here. Oh and the best one – more people die from living in cold here than there. Consider the temperatures and then go figure!

    And I’m guessing it wasn’t always that way either! They didn’t sit like happy pigs in swill with the ‘I’m alright Jack stuff everyone else its all their own fault’ attitude you have – methinks. Only that attitude will get you eventually – better to have everyone in an equal responsible society – than live in one like we seem to be heading for, like the US where anyone with a few bob will have to sleep with a gun under their pillow.

  • Reader

    LURIG: …heavy smokers and drinkers, more consumption of high cholesterol diets like Ulster fries, chips and take aways. … Then money comes into it too. Far cheaper and convenient to feed yourself and the weans on frozen chips, beans and white bread than stand baking a quiche, wholemeal bread and tossing a bean salad all day.
    I suppose an attempt at justification is an acknowledgement of sorts. But I can’t feel sorry for a “heavy smoker and drinker” who pays for their habits by feeding their kids, and themselves, cheap crap (expensive crap, if you include frozen chips or takeaways). I could feel sorry for the children – but they get to make their own choices in a few years anyway. And the unemployed do have *time* to cook.

  • RK

    heavy smokers and drinkers, more consumption of high cholesterol diets like Ulster fries, chips and take aways. … Then money comes into it too. Far cheaper and convenient to feed yourself and the weans on frozen chips, beans and white bread than stand baking a quiche, wholemeal bread and tossing a bean salad all day.

    Is this about life expectancy/health inequality etc – or nutrition?

    Certainly is a factor in your health – but one in about 15 of them!!

  • barnshee

    Been to Ballymoney?
    It just seems longer

  • Rory


    Thank you for your expression of concern regarding my health. In honesty I cannot say that I have such concern about yours, but I do hope that you are well.

    With the best exercise of good will on my part I can say that you appear to have made a misreading of my earlier post and I will say why if I may.

    1. This was a wilful misreading and you know it.

    2. This is generally true. I worked as an accountant in the charity sector and I “know whereof I speak”.

    3. You made the disparaging “crackhead” remark on the late Queen Mother’s addiction – I did not.

    Heroin addiction in the UK was treated humanely by judicious prescribed supply of diamorphine until pressure from the US demanded that this cease and the disgraceful methadone prescription was substituted which of course allowed the drug suppliers a market previously unavailable.

    I have no arguments against the Queen Mother being treated humanely – I would argue however that if her daughter’s subjects who were similarly addicted had been allowed the same humanity which was denied to them by UK kow-towing to pressure from the US government’s drug policy (which was to spread drug addiction) things might be better today.

    “Bizzare”, you say. You can bet your ass it is and more than a sweet liitle good boy like you might care to delve into.