The Broadisland Gathering

From the early 1990s the community of Ballycarry celebrated music poetry and history and its Ulster-Scots heritage through the Broadisland Gathering. This programme explores its twenty-five year history.

The village, with a population of approximately 950 people, has a vibrant community life with a community centre, three churches, sports clubs, fraternities and social groups. Volunteers ran the annual Broadisland Gathering for 25 years, the oldest Ulster-Scots festival in Northern Ireland, which organised pipe bands, drum major displays, musical groups, singers, storytelling and poetry, exhibitions, vintage vehicles, re-enactors, village fair, children’s entertainments, a pageant parade, pet show, history walks and concerts and attracted upwards of 6,000 people.


The village is also the birthplace of the foremost of the weaver poets, James Orr, who became known as the Bard of Ballycarry and was regarded as the best Ulster-Scots “rhyming weaver” of his generation. A complex character, his poems told stories of his surroundings, local events, battles of the 1798 Rising, exile and nationalism. He also wrote songs and poems for several local Lodges including the ‘Craftsmen of Ballycarry”.