Antrim is a town and civil parish in County Antrim in the northeast of Northern Ireland, on the banks of the Six Mile Water, half a mile northeast of Lough Neagh. It had a population of 20,001 people in the 2001 Census. The town is the administrative centre of Antrim Borough Council. It is 22 miles (35 km) northwest of Belfast by rail and was, until recently, also served by the railway line from Lisburn.
The area around what was to become Antrim was the subject of attack and invasion by a variety of peoples, including Celtic tribes and Viking raiders from around the 4th century. A monastery established close to the present site of the round Tower in 495, thirty years after the death of St. Patrick, to take forward his ministry, and a small settlement grew up around it.
By 1596, an English settlement had grown up around a ford across the Sixmilewater River and All Saints Parish Church has a datestone of 1596 with the words 'Gall-Antrum' written on it meaning 'The Antrum of the English'. Hugh Clotworthy, father of the Anglo-Irish politician John Clotworthy, 1st Viscount Massereene, supervised the building of secure military quarters beside the old Norman motte. This later became the site of Antrim Castle. Hugh was knighted in 1617 and appointed High Sheriff of County Antrim.
A battle was fought near Antrim between the English and Irish in the reign of Edward III; and in 1642 a naval engagement took place on Lough Neagh, for Viscount Massereene and Ferrard (who founded Antrim Castle in 1662) had a right to maintain a fighting fleet on the lough.
The Society of United Irishmen launched a rebellion in 1798, which began in Leinster and quickly spread to Ulster. The United Irishmen had been founded in 1791 by liberal Protestants in Belfast. Its goal was to unite Catholics and Protestants and make Ireland an independent republic. Although its membership was mainly Catholic, many of its leaders and members in northeast Ulster were Protestant Presbyterians. On 7 June 1798, about 4000 United Irishmen led by Henry Joy McCracken attacked the town. The rebels were on the verge of taking the town until British reinforcements arrived. Thanks to a rebel band led by James Hope, most of the United Irishmen were able to withdraw safely. This is known as the Battle of Antrim.
Before the Act of Union, Antrim returned two members to parliament by virtue of letters patent granted in 1666 by Charles II.
Antrim is the setting for the novel All The Little Guns Went Bang, Bang, Bang by author Neil Mackay.
See also the UDA South East Antrim Brigade