Ballymena City?

As part of the Queens Diamond Jubilee in 2012 one town will be granted city status.

Predictably Ian Paisley Jnr has nominated Ballymena hey

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  • john

    It wont be long before the dictionary definition of a city will have to change.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I was in Ballymena for a week one Sunday.
    Not the best choice. Surely Coleraine with its University is a better choice.

  • Don’t cities have to have a cathedral?

  • Moochin,
    Yes maybe but there are several large Presbyterian Churches in Ballymena: much better than a cathedral.

    That said Ballymena probably has more right to being a city than Newry or Lisburn.

  • Gareth


    Cathedrals are not required today. A charter from Her Maj is.

  • I would go for Bangor. It is a very attractive town and it is big enough to be regarded as a city.

  • andnowwhat

    For goodness sake Moochin, it has a bad heroin problem and a high per capita crime rate!!!

    of course it qualifies as a city.

    it is the Edinburgh of Ulster

  • Turgon
    Maybe so but the Queen isn’t a Presbyterian so i’m guessing that might go against the wannabe city regardless.

  • Donald Fraser

    A sick joke. Can’t Her Maj elect to boot a ‘city’ out of the UK instead? If so, she’d have her work cut out to choose only one candidiate from sunny ‘Ulster’ – Larne, Coleraine, Newry, Ballymena, Craigavon, Derry, Dungannon, Cookstown, Strabane, Lurgan, Portadown – unmitigated hell-holes one and all.

  • Moochin,
    Ah you are being an evil anti Calvinist bigot (well not really). The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian (well often in a very liberal way). Hence, as an equality measure for Ulster Scots Ballymena must become a city. That said Professor McIlveen has authoritatively described Caulraine, kultural hame til the Ulster Scot. So maybe Coleraine / Caulraine should receive city status.

  • Alanbrooke

    Nominate Hillsborough

    Church as big as a cathedral, quirky like St David’s, or failing that Dun Laoghaire just for the sheer fun of reaction

  • Driftwood

    Downpatrick claims to be the ‘Ancient City of Down’ on its signs. So Margaret can add her bid, pity about the Christmas tree..

  • Driftwood
  • Driftwood
  • Is this one town in the whole of the UK, or just one town in Northern Ireland? If it is one town anywhere in the British Isles the Cavan should be nominated. It has just celebrated 400years, although it lost the original Charter?! So a new Charter from the Crown would be most appropriate, and she could hand it over on her much anticipated visit to the Republic. And if anyone knows where the original Charter is, could they let the Council know please.

  • Drumlins Rock

    firstly Mooch, the Queens IS a Presbyterian, when she is in Scotland.
    Donald, coming from Dungannon I find your list of Hell-holes highly offensive, generally accurate of course, but raising Larne and Lurgan to the standard of hell-hole is grossly unfair on the rest of us.
    Might I add Omagh and Enniskillen to the list of wannabe cities, then watch then slag the crap out of each other again for another two years?

  • Pete Baker


    Ian Paisley Jnr didn’t nominate anything.

    He used a rare opportunity during Prime Minister’s Questions for a spot of cheap self-publicity.

    And the additional coverage just amplifies it.

  • ThomasMourne

    The 4th biggest ‘city’ by population in NI is Newry with about 27,000 inhabitants.
    The 4th biggest city in China is Shenzhen with 8 and a half million residents [and counting] – 320 x Newry.

    What is a city?
    And what difference does it make when a town is declared a city?
    Newry City football club seems to be in a worse state than Newry Town.

  • Flip2

    Cities are only cities when people feel like – or are able to – go on city breaks to them. This ruled out both Lisburn (suburb of Belfast, no hotel, relatively very little to do) and Newry (no offence but it is truly awful), but it didn’t stop them being cities.

    Ballymena is in the same league as Newry. I would go for Enniskillen. It actually attracts out of state tourists and even has an airport, as well as a few hotels.

  • Driftwood

    Is Craigavon not a city? If not, Lurgan and Portadown can go head to head on a BBC NI reality show.
    Pete on the money with IPJ trying to ‘jump’ into PMQ’s and raise profile. Cameron was fairly dismissive.
    I know Larne was in the book ‘Crap Towns’ but Ballymena really should have been, as should Downpatrick.

  • Which city in Ireland has as it’s Latin motto on its crest: ‘Urbs Intacta’ ?

    Not joking !

  • JJ Malloy


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Waterford/Port Láirge

  • Rory Carr

    I loved this response to the story on the Talkback blog of Downpatrick’s unfortunate choice of a site for their Christmas tree :

    2. At 5:34pm on 01 Dec 2010, SeasonedLoyalist1andonly wrote:

    why must we have to have these ugly roman/pagan anti-Biblical trees erected at all anywhere in any of our towns or cities,theyre all ugly and horrible.

    Scrooge, it would seem. is alive and well and attending an Orange Lodge near you.

    This guy is so anal that he won’t spend any apostrophes or question marks or capitals (except wrongly for “biblical”) in a piece of writing. At least his lack of any sense of humour indicates that he is not from Downpatrick which is, of course, the one town in the north worthy of city status. The only problem is that should city status be conferred upon ‘the ancient city of Down’, then we would never hear the end of it from the Blessed Margaret.

  • acrowley

    Well, it has the hard drug problems, and the endemic ghetto poverty areas; so why not?

  • Mr Brightside

    If we use size as the determinating factor, then it should go to Newtownabbey which is the 4th biggest town/city after Belfast, Derry and Lisburn.

  • Kaido

    Dervock and Stranocum joined would be as big as some of the “cities” we now have and IPJ should have no objection as an alternative to Ballymena. Also close to where he lives/ lived and he has a lot of friends in the area.

  • Pete

    That was the point of the blog……..what a waste of time to ask such a spurrious and frankly ridiculous question at PMQ’s.
    What was to stop him asking a question say about the govt’s *ahem* donation to the Republic and how it would affect us here.

  • slug

    I thought I’d stand up for Ballymena by pointing out its excellent export-based provate sector economy. The big firms are Wrightbus, selling iconic buses to London and Hong Kong; Gallaher, selling tobacco; and Michelin exporting tyres to the Far East. There are many others.

  • Seimi

    Lisburn has two hotels! One is in Dunmurry (the Beechlawn – approx. 5 miles from Lisburn) and the other is the Ballymac (which must be 9 miles away!)

    Lisburn has the widest green-belt of any ‘city’ I have ever seen!

  • Skintown Lad

    Enniskillen surely the number one choice. The kingpin in terms of beauty, it has much more to offer than any other town. Two noble-looking churches at the top of high street; a Royal School jam-packed with history; intriguing geographical position on an island separating two huge lakes; birthplace of two historic regiments; state of the art new hospital, airport, higher education college and theatre; bustling commercial centre and most importantly for these purposes, “things to do” for tourists. Its city status would provide more balance to NI geograhically, which currently favours the North and East.

  • Skintown Lad

    If it’s hotels you’re after, look no further than the world class five star Lough Erne Resort, the four star Killyhevlin, the extremely impressive Manor House Hotel or a plethora of smaller hotels, motels and charming B&Bs. Enniskillen wins again.

  • Turgon, yes, but Newry and Lisburn are really pushing the definition.

    What’s wrong with being a town, anyway?

  • Flip2

    Momentum for Enniskillen has started! And it has started on this site. The main reason isn’t political but because it is genuinely worthy of the title.

    Any idea what Fermanagh Council thinks?

  • Skintown Lad

    No idea Flip2. I suppose they would need to know what the benefits are, which I’m not too sure about myself. Maybe its simply a marketing thing, which of course has value.

  • Neil

    Speaking as Ballymena born and bred, I reckon Enniskillen would be better. At least if any tourists did decide to visit based on the presence of city status they wouldn’t end up in Ballymena. Ok it has shops, a cinema and a bowling alley, but that’s your lot, and two from three of the above are located in shitholes within the shithole.

    Typically a large part of me imagines that the good folks down there are trying to get their money’s worth out of the large Ballymena City of the Seven Towers’ sign which has been on the Ballee roundabout for the past 15 years. Kind of getting ahead of themselves there (just checked on google maps, it’s there for all to see if you don’t believe me).

    Anywhere that’s within a stones throw of a city (Belfast, Derry and to a lesser degree Armagh) which is liable to become part of the city it’s close to, like for instance Newtownabbey, should be ruled out.

  • Well, that is two plugs for Enniskillen.

    I must admit that I would love it as my local city. I did think, however, that it might be too small. Then again, it does have a Cathedral.

    Enniskillen’s proximity to Lough Erne would stand it in good stead as a great tourist attraction but this town would need infrastructure investment. It needs a couple of big road bridge river crossings and that is just for starters. Then again, city status could bring it the funding it needs.

    Now, here is the rub. Is Michelle Gildernew going to get up and give “traction” for the bid at Prime Minister’s question time. Somehow, I dont think so. Worse for her still, what if she won the bid? She would end up with an invitation to shake hands with the Queen.

  • john

    Enniskillen would get my vote

  • john

    By the way Neil a shithole within a shithole? Have you just watched inception? it certainly sounds like limbo to me.

  • Skintown Lad

    Agreed Seymour, the lack of infrastructure investment around Enniskillen is a disgrace and a huge blot in Gildernew’s copy book. The people of Enniskillen just get up and get on with it, which is a credit to them, but unfortunately lets its weak leaders (not just Gildernew) away with it.

  • Delta Omega

    It won’t be a Northern Ireland choice anyway as the Queen only intends to grant city status to one place. NI always has to do things in twos – one for usuns and one for themuns!

  • Skintown Lad

    Delta Omega – another reason why Enniskillen is the perfect choice! We have much less of that oul nonsense down in Fermanagh

  • Mr Brightside

    Newtownabbey is most deserving. It is the major campus site for the University of Ulster, has plenty of shops, hotels, a theatre, cinema and museum and is scenically positioned between the lough and Cavehill. And of course it is well connected with rail and motorway infrastructure.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ive never really thought of Newtownabbey as a “town” so Id have a lot of trouble thinking of it as a “city”. To me its still “Glengormley, Rathcoole and other bits I dont know”
    But as the so called City of Craigavon shows “cities” are not manufactured, they emerge.
    Armagh was of course a city long before Elizabeth Windsor turned up to say it was.
    And I cant take Lisburn or Newry seriously as “cities”. But Ballymenas relative proximity to Lisburn rules it out for me.
    And effectively Newtownabbey is a non starter because that would mean that it borders the city of Belfast which borders the City of Lisburn making effectively three continuous so called cities. At least in Salford/Manchester and London/Westminster people can actually draw a line.
    Bangor …..hardly…… postcodes effect house prices, the local MLAs would have to fight to preserve Holywood, Cultra and Helens Bay.
    West of the Bann we could rule out Omagh and Dungannon.
    Which leaves Enniskillen which has some merit in that the castle makes it look good.
    But Coleraine has that whole university thing going for it. And no nationalist need show up to the ceremony.
    Its Coleraine…as surely as England gets the 2018 World Cup bid. the event of England NOT getting the World Cup, please delete my reference to the fact that they will get it. Thanks a lot.

  • JJ Malloy

    I have it on inside information that the Queen is leaning towards choosing Crossmaglen. She wants to reward the extreme loyalty of her subjects in that area of her kingdom.

  • CW

    If the royal city charter goes to somewhere west of the Bann, it should be Carrickmore. The people living there seem to think it’s a city anyway, and they’d love nothing more than to have Aunty Betty round for tea!

  • drumlins rock

    FJH, I think I heard talk from Omagh once that they were pushing for it, which of course means Enniskillen will now want it too, Enniskillen does have a Cathedral I guess, (well a makey uppy one) and a cool castle, as well as a castlecoole. This time it should come west.

  • Mark

    Looks like England’s war on terror has just cost her the 2018 World Cup !

  • drumlins rock

    Mark, I would suspect the BBC’s war on FIFA had more to do with it.

  • Mark

    DRock , Yeh that can’t have helped aswell .

  • joeCanuck

    I’d like someone to answer Thomasmourne’s question. What happens when a town becomes a city? Are there specific advantages? Or is it a bit like that funny movie about the man who went up a hill and came down a mountain, with Hugh Grant as the man.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    They stop being eligible for “Its A Knockout” and can qualify as “UK City of Culture” and make unionist posters happy.

  • Yes, you’re right, fitzjameshorse, ……’s the Suirside city that carries the ‘Urbs Intacta’ motto on its coat-of-arms/crest.

    But, I’m not sure how or why this should apply to Waterford.

    Was it that Waterford was deemed a virgin city, unsullied by military onslaught ? or that its female population were more virtuous than those of other cities and towns ?

    Apologies to those who see this post as off-thread.

  • Driftwood

    Conor Murphy is now MP for 2 cities, Newry and Armagh, but neither is represented in the Commons.Wee Jeffrey is MP for the city of Lisburn, and Mark Durkan for the city of Londonderry. The city of Belfast has 4 MPs, of whom none ever represent their constituents.
    IPJ makes sure he is ‘visible’ .
    So it goes

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Warren Poynt,
    Its actually an official title “granted” to the city by Henry VII in recognition of the fact that it denied recognition to the “pretenders” Lambert Simnel and (more significantly) Perkin Warbeck.

  • drumlins rock

    does the rule of “having a cathederal” still hold any weight? Clogher qualifies in that case, it has a lovely Cathedral and half a main street.

  • drumlins rock

    think Dromore (co Down) would also qualify too.

  • becky

    is BUCKNA part of ballamana.such a name