The name of the town Ballymena comes from the Irish Gaelic "An Baile Meadhonach" meaning "middle townland."
Ballymena is an area rich in history; you'll notice many ancient buildings, churches and historical sites in the town and surrounding villages of Gracehill, Cullybackey, Kells and Portglenone. The first recorded history of this area dates to the early Christian period between 5th-7th centuries; however archaeologists have uncovered artifacts which are reputed to date from the Bronze Age.
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The town of Ballymena is built on land given to the Adair family by King Charles 1 in 1626, on provision that the town holds two annual fairs and a free Saturday market perpetuity. Almost four hundred years on, the town upholds its promise; the Saturday market still runs and for two days in June, the town's Ballymena Showgrounds plays host to one of the largest agricultural shows in Ireland.
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The Belfast Telegraph takes a stroll down Memory Lane with a visit to Ballymena.