Ballymena, in the pleasant valley of the River Braid, is an important borough with linen and other industries. It is situated in central Antrim at the convergence of many roads, which give ready access to all parts of the north-east of Ireland. The Saturday market dates back to 1626. Roger Casement went to school here.
Most of the town is built on land of the estate received by William Adair of Kinhilt, Scotland, from Charles 1. About 1732 the Adairs and another family named Hickey introduced the linen industry, to which the town chiefly owes its development. In 1798 a body of United Irishmen held Balllymena for three days, after defeating British forces in a battle in the streets.
Eight miles (13km) west of Ballymena, Slemish Mountain rises prominently on the South side of the Braid valley. This was the scene of St Patrick's six-year captivity as a youth. The shrine of St Patrick is a place of pilgrimage. There are now picnic sites and a scenic drive on the mountain.
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