Originally called An Dun Mor - "the great fort"
- Randalstown was named after the 2nd Earl and 1st Marquis
of Antrim, Randal MacDonnell and has strong links to
the O'Neill family. The original stronghold of Edenduffcarrick
was built in the 16th century and changed ownership
repeatedly until it was renamed Shane's Castle after
the new owner, Shane Mc Brian O'Neill. The O'Neill family
still reside within the castle and enjoy a prominent
position in Northern Ireland.
In 1830 Randalstown was described as " chiefly
one street extending for half a mile along the road
from Toomebridge to Belfast.."
By the end of the 19th century the town depended on
the success of the industries based on the east bank
of the river, including an iron works and the Old Bleach
Linen Company which was established here in 1864. You
can just make out the chimney of the mill in the top
right of the picture on the left, above.
The Charles Lanyon designed viaduct was built in 1856
to extend the railway from Randalstown to Cookstown.
In the late 1990's the top of the viaduct and part
of the railway track were converted into a walkway and
cycle path leading from Station Road to New Street.
This development provides spectacular views of Randalstown,
the River Maine and the adjoining parkland of Shane’s
The walkway on top of the viaduct links both sides
of the community in Randalstown, from Station Road across
to New Street. The opening ceremony for the recent works
saw an Orangeman and a representative from the Ancient
Order of Hibernians walk from opposite ends of the viaduct
to meet in the middle.
Jim spoke with Lord O'Neill, President of the Railway
Preservation Society of Ireland about the introduction
of the railway at Randalstown in the mid 19th century
and its impact on the town.
Jim also spoke with Christine Doherty, founder of the
Arches Association ( Assisting Randalstown Community
towards Harmony and Economic Success ) whose husband
was appointed postmaster in the town in 1971. Christine
recalls the large parcels of linen, from the nearby
Old Bleaching Company linen mill, stacked to the ceiling
at the post office.
George Graham, chairman of ARCHES tells us about past
projects and future objectives of ARCHES including the
recent renovation work on the viaduct. George spent
35 happy years working at the Old Bleaching Company
and describes how the linen made its way from the mill
to the railway station on an electric lorry and on to
destinations all over the world.
If you roll your mouse over the image above you can
see the contrast between the scene of mid 19th century
New Street, in Randalstown, with that of the same street
At its peak in the 1930's, the Old Bleach company employed
over 1000 people. Its doors finally closed in 1980 and
the wrecking ball swung into action in 1994.
As you walk around the decaying site, with a brand
new housing estate next door, you feel a real sense
of history passing by. You can almost hear the hustle
and bustle of linen production echoing around the once
proud buildings, which are now reduced to empty shells,
open to the elements.
If you worked in the mill or railway, please get in
touch using the form at the bottom of the page.
In 1996 Randalstown was designated as a Conservation
Area, which was achieved in conjunction with Randalstown
Historical Society and the D.O.E. Planning Service.
John Mc Laughlin - Mar '08
I was born in Randalstown and lived there for about
18 years when I decided to wander, I am now settled
here in Australia and have been for the past 30
I have discovered this website and enjoyed
George was born at Feehogue in 1921. My Mother Helen
nee Mc Gary was born in Glasgow, Scotland but was
reared by 2 aunts from Cargin near Toomebridge
called Katie Conway and Mary Conway. They had a
brother Peter Conway who was killed in WW2. Anyone
cot any connections to these names, please contact
me. Also a lot of people were asking for photo
etc here is a website I found which might help
some of you.
Thank You All
Robert Morrison Stewart - Feb '08
For Ray Kerr, Regina ,Canada.
In the Kerr Family Chronicles I noticed a Henry Haslett
Whan. I have an ancester's sister, Margaret Haslett,
born 1782, who married a Whan. Are you aware of
Oonagh - May '07
This is a really good site for looking up
stuff on Randalstown. Thanks to it I now have a better
understanding of the History of this town and how
much the O'Neill's played in it! The O'Neills were
really intresting people especialy Shane who the Castle
was named after. So thanks alot!!!
Marcia Armstrong - California -
I am a descendant of Elizabeth Jane Harper/Harpur
(her maiden name.) She was the daughter of James Harper
who was a farmer who rented land from the O'Neill
Estates. They lived in Randalstown . She had three
sisters - Mary Ann, May and Margaret May. She married
Samuel Wilson in 1847. His father, Hugh Wilson, was
a weaver. He must have died as she migrated to the
United States and remarried.
David Ayre of Kilmarnock - Feb '07
I was delighted to discover your webpage featuring
My paternal family hails from Randalstown (I lived
in the Parade Ground listed houses in my childhood
- a very long time ago!). Perhaps you could add a
photograph of the Parade Ground here sometime?
Randalstown has a brief mention - with a small collection
of old postcards - on the AYRE page of my website,
should any reader drop by at www.kilmarnock.org.uk
Kathleen McDonald - Feb '07
my g. g.grandfather was born near randalstown town
land of carngranny circa 1830 his name was George
Hannon he married in Scotland to Violet Riggs 1872
she was a widow with 2 daughters they moved to antrim
town were they owned a pub and china shop anyone any
information please contact thank you.
Sheamus Brendan McIntyre - Dec '06
Dear Mr Bob Brehm
I have just read this site and let my father above
Ian Robert Morrow McIntyre whom you were looking to
contact know of you message.
We havn't managed to get back to any earlier than
1876 which is the date writen on the side on my great
grandfather house in Clonkee road Randalstown.
Well if you want to get hold of dad back in NZ email
me below and I'll pass on your details.
Christopher Peake - Nov '06
A family friend, Margaret Gordon Erskine (c.1912 -
31st January 1994), the only daughter of the four
children of Robert M. Erskine, J.P. and Eleanor Erskine
(nee Pollock) of Holywood, Co. Down worked as a designer
for the Old Bleach Mill in Randalstown in the 1950s.
She lived in a caravan in the factory yard during
the working week and returned to her cottage at Creighton's
Green, near Holywood, Co. Down at the weekends. Two
of Margaret's three brothers died during World War
II. Her eldest brother died shortly after the end
of the War.
Ian Millar - June '06
Hello. I am trying to research my family who I know
lived in Randalstown prior to WW1. They are my Great
Grandparents James and Sarah Millar. Their son, Thomas
Millar who was born in Drumaul, Co. Antrim, and lived
in Randalstown, was killed on the first day of the
Battle of the Somme on 01/07/16. Tommy was in the
12 Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. There was also a
daughter (my paternal Grandmother, Sarah Jane Millar.
I would be obliged for any information. Thank you
Steven Smith May '06
I went there it was nothing short of a war zone, there
are good people there but some are still wrapped up
in bitterness, such a shame as it is a gold mine waiting
to be discovered. Take my advice drive through it
and you will see what you want but don't stay there!
Ray Kerr from Regina, Saskatchewan,
Canada - April '06
My great grandmother was Mary Ann Foster (Kerr) born
1864 to William Foster / Margaret Small of Cloghoghue(Drummaul)
near Randalstown. Their where also Samual Foster and
Joseph Foster of Andraid and they where members of
the old presbyterian church Randalstown. Their was
their father Robert Foster also. Looking for Foster
Family History in the area! My greatygrandmother married
a Michael Kerr of (Armagh) - Carrowcolman (Clonfeacle)
and they left Glasgow, Scotland May 1893 for ellis
island, NY. Then to Melita, Manitoba until 1905, then
Indian Head, Saskatchewan until 1935, retiring to
Mary Kerr (Foster) died 1964 at the age of 100 year
old. Michael kerr died 1957 at the age of 94 years.
Both are buried at Regina (Cemetary), Saskatchewan,
Canada. please contact > raymondkerr1961 at hotmail.com
**FYI go to Google * then type :
' Kerr family chronicles' Kerr history from
Dungannon connected to the Fosters.
David Wayne O'Neill - April '06
I am always interested in meeting family, so drop
me a line anytime.
I am the son of John Martin O'Neill son of Francis
Martin O'Neill who died in Philidelphia in the early
1920 in an auto accident. He was an artistic plasterer
with 32 horse drawn carts. He came here from Ireland
in the late 1800's.
Bob Brehm - April '06
I would very much like to contact Ian Robert Morrow
McIntyre.(see below ) We may have a common ancestor,
since my mother Mary McIntyre was born in 1903 in
Motherwell as well. Ancestry goes back to Dunaghy,
Antrim, Ireland, in the early 1800s.
Ryan Joseph Patrick O'Neill - March
I am an O'Neill and a proved descendant of Hugh O'Neill,
Earl of Tyrone. I would appreciate any information
on the current head of the family and woulkd like
to know if any of the old titles of the Great O'Neills
George Allan - March '06
Is there any Hotels B&B to stay in Randaltown
? How close is it from Rail Links. My Great Grand
Father/Mother was form there, Joe McGlaughlin they
moved to Clydebank to work in the Ship Yards. I would
love to visit but it is hard to find anywhere even
close by to stay. can Anyone help?
Anne McManus - Jan '06
One of my husband's forebears was a gardener at Shanes
Castle, circa 1847 - 1850. Can anyone tell me if the
old staff records, the Castle documents concerned
with the running of the estate, still exist, or, are
preserved anywhere? Your help would be appreciated.
Diane Purches - Jan '06
How wonderful to see good photos, and history of Randalstown.
My g grandfather Felix O'Neill b. 1841 married to
Annie Henderson lived in the area - in the townland
of Brecart and parish of Duneane. Would be most interested
to know of a possible connection to Shane's castle
as family lore suggests.
Eileen Phelan - Dec '05
I found this article very interesting and enjoyed
looking at the pictures. My grandparents lived in
Randalstown and my Mother and her three sisters (who
were all born there) worked at the Old Bleach (can't
give names because I still have an Aunt in Randalstown)
at different times and one of them was still there
when the factory closed. Mum and two of her sisters
used to do the hand painting on the tableclothes.
Mum told me that they couldn't get the colour dyes
from Germany while the war was on. An Aunt told me
the pay wasn't very good, but that the staff had a
laugh. Pity the factory wasn't turned into a Heritage
site, but I suppose selling off the land for housing
was more lucrative.
Dawn(O'Neill) Kobel - Dec '05
I am a desndent of Hugh O'Neill and would like to
know who now owns the O'Neill Castle and any information
would be Greatly apreciated.
Bob Duff - November '05
My family is in the process of tracing our Irish roots.
Unfortunately we have run into a dead end between
randalstown & belfast.
We know that our Paternal grandfather Thomas Duff
( born March 15, 1888) was apparently born in randalstown
and that his father was James Duff, lived on Shanes
Street for a while, husband of Cassie Duff. Both relocated
to Belfast and are identified as living in Belfast
in 1920 at 9 reid Street. An uncle 2 generations removed
has dim recollections of Aunts or cousins with the
forenames of Julia and Sarah, nee Duff who lived somewhere
in the vicinity.
There also is a cousin apparently from Randalstown
who was on the police force in Belfast ( retiring
some years ago.)
Other given names in the family are David and obviously
Thomas. My father was born in Belfast but came to
Canada as a child in 1923. His father Thomas Duff,
son of James Duff passed on in the early 50's.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
p.s. good website.
Ian Robert Morrow McIntyre - August
Very interested to find this article about Randalstown
because my father (Robert McIntyre) was borne near
here to Robert McIntyre and Esther Morrow in July
1898 before they emigrated to New Zealand in 1904.
I would be interested to know of anyone that knew
the Morrow family of the Randalstown Area or it's
Jennifer Steen - July '05
I have recently discovered that my great grandfather,
William Rea, worked in the Old Bleach company and
lived in a cottage owned by the mill where he and
his wife Elizabeth had 13 children. One of them, my
grandfather Alexander Rea, became stationmaster at
Coleraine and he may have joined the railway when
a station was opened at Randalstown. I think my grandfather
was born around 1868 so my great-grandfather would
have been working in the mill then.
I wonder if anyone can advise me if there is any
way of finding out details from records or if there
would be any old photographs of the mill workers?
Fergus, i would like to know who owns the farm up
at staffardstown road as i recently got some money
off deceased relatives and wouldn't mind buying this
Robert Morrison Stewart - Feb 08
For Ray Kerr, Regina ,Canada.
In the Kerr Family Chronicles I noticed a Henry Haslett
Whan. I have an ancester's sister, Margaret Haslett,
born 1782, who married a Whan. Are you aware of any
John Mc Laughlin
I was born In Randalstown and lived there for about
18 years when I decided To wander, I am now settled
here in Australia and have been for the past 30 years.
I have discovered this website and enjoyed the reading,
My surname is Mc Laughlin My Father George was born
at Feehogue in 1921 My Mother Helen nee Mc Gary was
born in Glasgow Scotland but was reared by 2 aunts
from Cargin near Toomebridge called Katie Conway and
Mary Conway They had a brother Peter Conway who was
killed in WW2. Anyone cot any connections to these
names Please contact me. Also a lot of people were
asking for photo etc here is a website I found which
might help some of you Thank You All