Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Bank Manager

Way back in March 2010 I wrote a blog about James Spence McIlhagga of Ballymena and I made a classic mistake. My mistake was to assume that there was only one James McIlhagga in Ballymena! James Spence McIlhagga was a train driver and I wrongly assumed that he had had a dramatic career change and had become a Bank Manager! Recent correspondence with his granddaughter has confirmed that this was incorrect. He retired as a train driver. He did, as I said, become an Alderman in the town of Ballymena, and as I have subsequently noted in another blog, he was one of the four founders of Ballymena Football Club.

So who was James McIlhagga listed in the 1940 Ulster Directory as Manager of the Belfast Savings Bank in the town? I do not have access to that Directory so couldn't check that I had got my facts right, so I did something I have not done before. For some years I have been a member of the North of Ireland Family History Society which kindly offers the service to its members of looking up the documents which they have in their library. I knew they had the 1940 Directory and I initially asked for a look up of the Belfast Savings Bank in Balfast. No McIlhagga! Then the volunteer went back and looked to see if the Bank had a branch in Ballymena. It had, and the manager was none other than James McIlhagga.

However the volunteer went the second mile. He was still there in the directories of 1945 and 1951, in the Bryant Street Branch, and in 1945 his surname was spelled McIlhagger. This alerted me to the possibility which I'm now sure is true, that this 'second' Ballymena James is none other than the James McIlhagger I have found who later was working for the Bank of Ireland in The Isle of Man. He settled there and died on the Island in 1968. He was the third son of David McIlhagger and Elizabeth Sherwood. He married Ethel Neville and had two sons. I express my sincere thanks to the North of Ireland Family History Society.


  1. Hi Donald I think I knew that he spelled his name Mc Ilhagger, but that had slipped my mind , when I read about the James Mc Ilhagger in the Isle of man , I wondered if this was the same person who was in Ballymena

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