Ballymena Haigh!

Outside in, or inside out?  An image from my vist to Ballymena on 19th January.  It was taken in the Fairhill Shopping Centre.

‘Ballymena Haigh!’ is a phrase I have often heard over the years.  I am hoping that Nelly, Hannah or Hails might explain what exactly it means.

21 thoughts on “Ballymena Haigh!

  1. Hails

    I don’t think it means anything, to be honest!

    People make fun of our accent. And if someone has a very broad Ballymena accent, they tend to say “hi!” or “hey!” at the end of a sentence. Any sentence. No reason. Maybe it’s to draw attention to an observation? “It’s a great day, hi!” “You’re lookin’ well, hey!” Hmm. Maybe. Although it seems to me to be as pointless as the more general Norn Irish “so it is” at the end of every sentence!

    Anyway, there was a TV advert in the late 80s or early 90s for the Fairhill Centre, where your photo was taken. They took advantage of this already semi-famous phrase and coined the catchphrase “It’s a big shoppin’ centre in Ballymena, hi!”. It gets quoted at anyone who says they’re from Ballymena, and we have to smile politely or laugh like we’ve never heard it before.

    I was settling into my dorm in a youth hostel in a remote village in Hu ngary last summer, when a young member of staff came in with some bed linen. We did the small talk, and he asked where exactly in Ireland I was from. You can imagine how bizarre I found it when he grinned and replied, “Big shoppin’ centre in Ballymena, hi!”…! There’s no escaping it, clearly.

  2. Nick

    The most extreme example of that sort of thing is, as you may know, the Lloyds Insurance building in London. It’s actually known as the Inside-Out building because all the services such as staircases, lifts, electrical conduits and water pipes are on the outside. Pretty weird.

    Ballymena Haigh? Search me. But then, I’m just a blow-in….

  3. Grannymar Post author

    @Hails – I thought you would come to the rescue.

    @Nick – Alas, you and I will be blow-ins forever….. 🙁

    @Steph – You may well be correct, afterall I am known for my ba spelling!

  4. Magpie11

    Downside up?

    Lloyds building….ugly as heck!

    Hope all are surviving the snow in the B!s…here people seem to have discovered some thing new…walking!

  5. Nelly

    It’s adman toodle. Nobody, but nobody, actually says it unless they’re living in a time-warp on the foothills of Slemish.

    And I’m actually from Antrim (rural).

  6. Nancy


    I always thought Bali Ha’i was a song from South Pacific. When Bloody Mary sang about her special island,I thought she meant Ireland…..

    Bali Ha’i may call you,
    Any night, any day,
    In your heart, you’ll hear it call you:
    “Come away…Come away.”

    Bali Ha’i will whisper
    In the wind of the sea:
    “Here am I, your special island!
    Come to me, come to me!”

  7. Grannymar Post author

    @Nelly – I thought as much, but being a blow-in I needed confirmation. 😀

    @Nancy – Aye! You might have something there. Mind you our weather at the moment is not very Desert Island..ish!

  8. Nancy

    Ok Darlene, On Three:

    A One

    A TWo

    A Three

    Bali Ha’i may call you
    Any night, any day

    DARLENE!!!!! I can’t go through with this. Even for Grannymar.. I am a dreadful singer. If I could find the key I would go to my room!

  9. Darlene

    Nancy, you are probably an alto and I am too. So a duet is out. Beside, since getting my implant I probably sing off key. Sob!

    So sorry, Grannymar, we just can’t do it. How about a slow waltz?


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