The Ould Lammas Fair is a traditional fair held in Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, every year on the last Monday and Tuesday of August. It is associated with the Lammas harvest festival. The fair has been running for nearly 400 years, dating back to the 17th century.
Some say that it started out as a sheep market, others that it originated when Sorley Boy MacDonnell ordered a celebration for his nephew. Either way it grew and migrated to Ballycastle. Whether or not today’s event is because Sorley Boy ordered it up, Lammastide celebrations have a long history in Ireland.
Lammas, also called “Lughnasad”, was an ancient celebration of the first harvest, and honoured the grain harvests, as well as the gods and goddesses of death and resurrection. Lughnasadh – meaning “festival of Lugh” – or Lammas – meaning “festival of the loaves”
Ireland’s oldest traditional fair will see thousands of people flock to the seaside town to celebrate its culture, heritage, music and agricultural traditions over a four-day event not to be missed.
Sticking with tradition, the main events will be held on the last Monday and Tuesday of August, when the town is transformed by hundreds of stalls lining the streets and visitors as far as the eye can see.
Building the momentum up to the fair days, there is a jam-packed weekend of activity to look forward to, with events such as the heavy horse show, horse races on the beach, fairground rides, live music, entertainment, market stalls selling favourites such as dulse, yellowman and much more.
A fantastic fireworks display will light up the sky to mark the start of the traditional fair on Sunday 27th from 9pm, followed by an outdoor concert at The Diamond.
Crafters and traders from Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market will be at the seafront, bringing together an array of fresh food, local produce, tasty treats, and handmade arts and crafts – enjoy a browse and meet the makers behind the products as well as experiencing an extended Twilight Market over the weekend.
Looking ahead to the event, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Steven Callaghan, said: “The Ould Lammas Fair has been a staple of Ballycastle for centuries – it is engrained in the town’s history and continues to be a focal point of the year’s tourism calendar.
“This fantastic event holds a very special place in the hearts of local people, as well as in the hearts of the many thousands who come from far and wide to be a part of it each and every year. For generations, the Ould Lammas Fair has brought families, friends and communities together and I look forward to seeing the town full of people enjoying dulse, yellowman and everything else it has to offer.”
The event’s historic origins will be celebrated at Fairhill Street, where traditional horse trading will continue. The popular family funfair at Quay Road will provide lots of entertainment alongside live music, amusements, street theatre, and dance throughout the streets of Ballycastle. Quiet times will be available for those with additional needs at a selection of activities.