Work on new homes has changed the streetscape on site of former Catholic Church in Harryville which was making world-wide headlines twenty years ago

New housing is being built at the site of the former Catholic Church in Ballymena’s Harryville area.

This is the new streetscape in the Harryville area of Ballymena twenty years after the ending of loyalist pickets at the former Catholic Church which sat on the site.

New homes are being built at the location of the former Church of Our Lady which was the scene of protests which generated world-wide headlines from September 1996 to this time of the year in 1998.

The place of worship closed in 2012 after the church authorities said there were structural issues with the building and it was demolished in 2013.

Work on the new houses began last year and is well underway.

Almost 50 homes are being built.

Housing plan for Harryville Church site 4
The former Church of Our Lady in Harryville.

Harryville Chapel was in sharp focus in 1996 when a series of loyalist demonstrations – sometimes 400-strong – began outside its doors in response to nationalist objections to loyal order parades in Dunloy.

The protests, which often disrupted Masses and frequently turned into riots, eventually ended after the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

The church was damaged on a number of occasions in sectarian attacks and in 2005 police even positioned a special guard on the building.

Harryville houses
The site had been vacant for a time in recent years.

The church closed in 2012 because of leaks and and structural damage which the church said would have cost over £600,000 to repair, which they described as “prohibitive”, and it was demolished in 2013.

After that a Union Flag had been placed in the centre of the unoccupied site which was surrounded by a high metal fence.

Planning permission was then obtained to build 48 new homes – 12 townhouses and 36 apartments – on the site.

Ulster Unionist councillor Stephen Nicholl said work on the housing is ahead of schedule.

He said March next year was supposed to be the handover date but the builders are now hoping to complete the work by the end of October.

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