Ballymena Strikes Back – Liam Neeson calls on town’s schoolkids to name ‘wonderful new structure’
Monday 9 April 2018
Primary school children are to be given the opportunity to name an iconic new meeting place in the heart of Ballymena – with the winner to be selected by Hollywood superstar and hometown hero Liam Neeson.
Work is underway on Ballymena’s ultra-modern outdoor entertainment and creativity hub, marking the final stage of a multi-million-pound investment in the town.
With the regeneration project set to be completed within weeks, A-list actor Liam - star of a string of blockbuster movies, including The Phantom Menace, Schindler's List, The A-Team and Batman Begins, today launched a competition to find a suitable name for Broadway’s latest attraction.
And the Freeman of Ballymena admitted to being ‘Taken’ by the cutting-edge structure, which will finally provide residents with a fit-for-purpose outdoor community space, acting as a hive of activity, with a series of outdoor events already being planned to promote culture and the arts.
He said: “The name Ballymena derives from the Irish and means ‘middle town’.
“Indeed, our wee town sits in the middle of Northern Ireland: the centre of!
“How appropriate that a wonderful new structure will be erected right, bang in the middle of the town to be used as a gathering place, a place to shop, be entertained, meet the neighbours for a chat and a catch-up - set the world to rights!
“And also, more importantly, to show the world that we won’t sit and ‘lick our wounds’ at losing two vital factory industries.
“We look forward to the future, welcome it, adapt and attract new business initiatives. This beautiful, yet simple structure symbolises all that and more. Many congratulations.”
He signed his statement to council: ‘Liam Neeson, OBE and Proud Son of Ballymena’.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, said he was overwhelmed by Mr Neeson’s ringing endorsement for the big screen legend’s hometown.
The Mayor said: “We are delighted Liam has given his backing to our vision for Ballymena and Mid and East Antrim.
“Liam is an incredible ambassador for the town and Northern Ireland, and is a role model to many in our wee country.
“He has never forgotten his roots and I thank him on behalf of Council for his support and commitment to our borough.
“In the coming days we will be contacting primary schools throughout Ballymena, encouraging our children to play a vital part in naming a piece in the town we all hold so dear.
“A shortlist will be compiled and Liam has kindly agreed to select his favourite.”
The new structure forms one part of the £4.2million regeneration scheme in Ballymena. A third of this scheme has been paid by ratepayers, with the remainder of the funding provided by central government.
The striking structure, when completed, will provide a visually stunning piece of architecture in the centre of Ballymena.
Council is currently working on plans for several superb events for all the family at the new space, including summer markets and performances, which will bring more people into the town centre and create an excellent atmosphere around Ballymena.
It will provide the ideal venue for a host of exciting events, performances, concerts and markets, and showcase the very best of culture and the arts in Mid and East Antrim.
The Mayor added: “The new canopy will transform the aesthetics of our town centre.
“Our Council plays a key role in driving the economy of our Borough, as demonstrated by our commitment to, and delivery of, the public realm scheme.
“This work is all about boosting economic growth, generating jobs and bringing more people to Mid and East Antrim.”
If anyone wishes to contact Council in relation to the scheme, email: