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The Bells


The Eight Bells of St. Patrick's were put in the tower in 1895, as a memorial to Dean Murray, Rector from 1865 to 1893. The bells were supplied by Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel, London, and their daybook entry for the 15th May, 1895 shows that their total charge to the Bell Committee of St. Patrick's, Ballymena was 649 5s 11d. They were dedicated on Wednesday 29th May, 1895, two years after Dean Murray's death and burial. Dean Murray died on the Sunday after Ascension, 1893, and was buried the following Wednesday. The Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette noted this fact when reporting the Dedication, giving details of the bells as follows:


"The bells have been hung with the usual fittings for ringing,.. elm headstocks with steel gudgeons, gunmetal bearings in iron carriages, wheels and ropes. The framework in which they swing is of massive English Oak, well constructed, and every joint secured with double bolts or corner plates. A chiming apparatus has also been attached to enable one person to chime the bells."


After the service, the bellringers of St. Thomas', Belfast, rang the first 'peal' on the bells, which was listened to by crowds of people who 'thronged the approaches to the sacred edifice.'


Two other bells are worth mentioning in connection with St. Patrick's. The first is the 17th century bell from the old parish church, whom in 1964 was preserved in the present ground in a timber belfry at ground level. The other bell is the single original bell at St. Patrick's, placed there presumably in 1866 and inscribed:


St. Patrick AD 1866 Laus Deo

Sheridan Eagle Foundry Dublin


The Sheridan Foundry in Church Street, Dublin, was taken over by M. Bryne of the Fountain Head Bell Foundry shortly after the casting of this bell. The Byrne Foundry catalogue gives the diameter of the bell as 40", and the weight as 12 cwts with tongue, the note being F. Dr. Murray described the bell in 1868:


"The bell has given much satisfaction, the tone is good, and it can be heard at a distance of four miles on a calm day. As a specimen of casting also the bell has been much admired."


In June 1895, just after the ring of eight was put in, this bell was purchased by the Select Vestry of Lambeg for 40. A further 47.8s.3d was spent in the work of transferring it from Ballymena to Lambeg. A subscription list was opened in Lambeg, which raised 122.0.6d. This bell was dedicated on 30th June 1895, with Rev Dr. Irvine, Rector of St. Stephens, Belfast, preaching. This bell is still in use in Lambeg.


According to the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph in 1942, the parish also has a connection with two ancient bells. The "Bell of Ballyclug", one of the old iron bronze-dipped type usually associated with the times of St. Patrick, was then in the custody of Belfast Museum together with the "Bell of Ballymena", one of the earliest known bronze bells, probably dating back to the very early Christian centuries. This latter bell was found near the ruins of Kilconriola Church, but is believed to have been associated with an earlier church on the same site.