Place:Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland


Alt namesLarnesource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Latharnasource: Wikipedia
Coordinates54.85°N 5.817°W
Located inCounty Antrim, Northern Ireland
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Larne (IPA:[ˈlahəɾˠnˠə], the name of a Gaelic territory) is a town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, with a population of 18,755 at the 2011 Census. It is a major passenger and freight roll-on roll-off port. Larne is administered by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Together with parts of the neighbouring districts of Antrim and Newtownabbey and Causeway Coast and Glens, it forms the East Antrim constituency for elections to the Westminster Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The civil parish is in the historic barony of Glenarm Upper.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The coastal area around Larne has been inhabited for millennia, and is thought to have been one of the earliest inhabited areas of Ireland, with these early human populations believed to have arrived from Scotland via the North Channel. Knockdhu, north of Larne, was the site of a Bronze Age promontory fort and settlement. The early coastal dwellers are thought to have had a sophisticated culture which involved trading between the shores of the North Channel and between other settlements on the coasts of Scotland. The coast of Scotland is in fact clearly visible from here. Archaeological digs in the area have found flintwork and other artefacts which have been assigned dates from 6000 BC onwards. The term Larnian has even been coined by archaeologists to describe such flintworks and similar artefacts of the Mesolithic era (and one time to describe Mesolithic culture in Ireland as a whole). Larnian is also currently used to refer to people from Larne.

Larne takes its name from Latharna, a Gaelic territory or túath that was part of the Ulaid minor-kingdom of Dál nAraidi.[1] The name spelt as Latharne was used at one point in reference to the Anglo-Norman cantred of Carrickfergus.[1] Latharna itself means "descendants of Lathar", with Lathar according to legend being a son of the pre-Christian king Úgaine Mór.[2] The town sprang up where the River Inver flows into Larne Lough. This area was known in Irish as Inbhear an Latharna ("rivermouth/estuary of Latharna") and was later anglicised as Inver Larne or simply Inver. Latharna was only applied exclusively to the town in recent centuries.

There was Viking activity in the area during the 10th and 11th centuries AD. Viking burial sites and artefacts have been found in the area and dated to that time. Ulfreksfjord was an Old Norse name for Larne Lough. According to the Norse historian Snorri Sturluson, Connor, King of Ireland, defeated Orkney Vikings at Ulfreksfjord in 1018. Later anglicised names include Wulfrichford, Wolderfirth, Wolverflete and the surviving name Olderfleet. The ending -fleet comes from the Norse fljot, meaning "inlet". Older- may come from the Norse oldu, meaning "wave".[3]

In the 13th Century the Scots Bissett family built Olderfleet Castle at Curran Point. In 1315, Edward the Bruce of Scotland (brother of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland) landed at Larne with his 6000 strong army en route to conquer Ireland, where Olderfleet Castle was of strategic importance. Edward saw Ireland as another front in the ongoing war against Norman England.

In 1569, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland, appointed Sir Moyses Hill as the governor of Olderfleet Castle. It was seen as strategically important for any Tudor conquest of Ulster. Following the 17th century Union of the Crowns of Scotland, England and Ireland under James VI & I many more settlers would have arrived to Ulster via Larne during the Plantation of Ulster. The area around County Antrim itself, however, was not part of the official 17th century Plantation; instead many Scottish settlers arrived in the area through private settlement in the 17th century (as they had also been doing for centuries before).

During the 18th century many Scots-Irish emigrated to America from the port of Larne. A monument in the Curran Park commemorates the Friends Goodwill, the first emigrant ship to sail from Larne in May 1717, heading for Boston, Massachusetts in the New England region of the modern United States of America. Boston's long standing Scots-Irish roots can be traced to Larne. The town is documented as being the first in county Antrim to be taken by United Irishmen during the ill-fated rebellion of 1798. The Protestant rebels from this area (almost entirely Presbyterian) filled Larne and engaged the government forces around 2am on the morning of 7 June. This surprise attack drove the garrison to flee the town, at which point the rebel force marched off to join up with McCracken and fight in the Battle of Antrim.

In 1914, Loyalists opposed to the Home Rule Act 1914 prepared for armed resistance. In an episode known as the Larne Gun Running German, Austrian and Italian weapons with ammunition were transported into the ports of Larne and Bangor in the dead of night and distributed throughout Ulster. This event marked a major step in cementing the right to Ulster Unionist self-determination, with the recognition of such a right ultimately leading to the creation of Northern Ireland.

The Troubles

Larne throughout the course of The Troubles had a significant paramilitary presence in the town, mostly through the presence of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA). For further information see UDA South East Antrim Brigade.

The town suffered a number of Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attacks during The Troubles, notably including a large car bomb at the King's Arms hotel in 1980 that caused damage to the main shopping areas, for which the IRA claimed responsibility. This incident was raised in Parliament at the time.

Incidents which involved fatalities

  • 16 September 1972: Sinclair Johnston a UVF member, was shot by the Royal Ulster Constabulary during street disturbances in the town when the Royal Ulster Constabulary were protecting Catholics living in St Johns Place.
  • 20 November 1974: Kevin Regan died from his injuries received in a UVF attack five days before on Maguires bar on Lower Cross Street. The Larne UDA blamed the IRA for the attack.
  • 6 February 1975: Colette Brown, a Catholic, was found by the side of the Killyglen Road after being shot by Loyalists. Two men, one a UVF member the other a Lance Corporal in the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) were later convicted of her murder.
  • 8 September 1975: Michael O'Toole a Catholic, died from his injuries sustained in a loyalist booby trap bomb attached to his car two days previously.
  • 24 August 1980: Rodney McCormick a Catholic, was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in the Antiville area of the town. The Royal Ulster Constabulary convicted the gunmen involved.
  • 11 July 2000: Andrew Cairns a UVF member, was killed by members of the UDA at an eleventh night bonfire celebration in a suspected loyalist feud at Boyne Square. He may also have been murdered due to his alleged involvement in an earlier assault. The Royal Ulster Constabulary detective inspector, George Montgomery, did not find any motive for the murder. David Ervine (PUP) stated that there was no Loyalist feud.

Historical description

Extracts pertaining to local and historical information are taken from a Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis published in 1837.

LARNE, a sea-port, market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of UPPER GLENARM, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 11 miles (N.) from Carrickfergus, and 97 (N. by E.) from Dublin, on the road from Belfast to Ballycastle; containing 3182 inhabitants, of which number, 2616 are in the town. This place is situated on the shore of Lough Larne, which was formerly called Olderfleet, and gave name to a castle built on the extreme point of the promontory of Curraan, which forms the small bay adjacent to the town. This fortress, under the protection of which the town arose, is supposed to have been erected by a Scottish family named Bisset, to whom a settlement on this part of the coast was granted by Hen. III., and to have been subsequently improved by the English. Edward Bruce landed here in 1315 with an army of 6000 men for the conquest of Ireland; and during the same reign, Hugh Bisset forfeited his lands here by taking part in the rebellion. These were subsequently claimed in right of the same family, by James Mac Donnell, Lord of Cantire, and after his death were granted by Queen Elizabeth during her pleasure, to his son Angus, on condition that he should carry arms only under the King of England, and pay annually a certain number of hawks and cattle. Olderfleet castle was at that time considered so important a defence against the Scots that, in 1569, it was entrusted to Sir Moyses Hill, but was dismantled in 1598. Jas. I., in 1603, granted the entire headland to Sir Randal Mac Donnell, surnamed Sorley-Boy; but in 1612 gave the castle and lands to Sir Arthur Chichester, together with the right of ferry between this place and Island Magee. During the disturbances of 1798, the town was attacked by the insurgent army from Ballymena, but the assailants were repulsed by the Tay fencibles, assisted by the yeomanry and inhabitants.

The town is beautifully situated on the shore of Lough Larne, on the eastern coast, and is divided into the old and new towns, containing together 482 houses, most of which are well built, and of very neat appearance; the streets in the old town are narrow and indifferently paved; the new town consists of one long and regular street, in which the houses are of stone and handsomely built. There are two public libraries, supported by subscription, both containing good collections. During the last century a very extensive trade was carried on in salt, of which large quantities prepared here from rock salt imported from Liverpool were sent from this port to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Prussia; the duties paid thereon, on the average, amounted to £18,000 per annum. About the middle of the last century this was the only port in the North of Ireland from which emigrant vessels sailed. The present trade consists chiefly in the exportation of oats, beans, flour, and, occasionally, black cattle, and a very considerable quantity of lime; and the importation of coal, slates, wheat, and North American timber. The number of vessels that entered inwards during the year ending Jan. 5th, 1835, was 340, of the aggregate burden of 13,517 tons, and of which 298 were from British ports and 42 employed in the coasting trade; and during the same year, 113 vessels, of the aggregate burden of 4329 tons, cleared out from this port, of which 64 were bound to British ports and 49 were coasters. The port, which is a member of that of Belfast, has an excellent harbour for small vessels, for which there is good anchorage between the Curraan, and the peninsula of Island Magee, in 2 or 2 1/2 fathoms, quite land-locked; great numbers of vessels from Scotland anchor off this place, while waiting for their cargoes of lime from the Maghramorne works. There are some good quays on both sides of the lough about a mile from the town, the water being too shallow to float vessels further up. The royal military road along the coast passes through the town. The market is on Tuesday; a great market is held on the first Monday of every month, and there are fairs on Dec. 1st and July 31st, principally for black cattle, a few inferior horses and pigs. A constabulary police force has been established in the town, and there is also a coast-guard station belonging to the Carrickfergus district. A court for the manor of Glenarm is held here every six weeks; and petty sessions are held every alternate week.

The parish comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 2210 statute acres of good arable and pasture land; the system of agriculture is slowly improving, and there is neither waste land nor bog. Limestone abounds, and is quarried both for building and agricultural purposes; at Ballycraigey, about a mile to the north of the town, is a quarry of felspar, worked occasionally for building; and at Bankhead a fine stratum of coal has been discovered, but is not worked. The principal seats are Gardenmore, the elegant villa of S. Darcus, Esq.; the Curraan, the residence of M. McNeill, Esq.; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. S. Gwynn. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Connor, and in the patronage of the Dean; the tithes amount to £135. 11. 11., of which £123. 15. 7. is payable to the curate, who receives also £23. 8. from Primate Boulter's fund. The glebe-house was built in 1824, by a gift of £450 and a loan of £50 from the late Board of First Fruits; the glebe comprises 3 1/4 acres. The church, previously to its alteration in 1819, had some interesting details of ancient architecture. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Carrickfergus and Larne; a chapel was erected here in 1832 by subscription. There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster and the Seceding Synod, each of the second class, and with the Presbytery of Antrim of the first class, also for Wesleyan Methodists. About 150 children are taught in the national school of the parish, and a dispensary is supported by subscription. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Olderfleet on the promontory of Curraan; and on the sea side, about a mile north of the town, is a cavern called the Black Cave, passing under the projecting base of a huge rock; the length of the cave, which is open at both ends, is 60 feet, and its height from 3 to 30 feet; the sides are formed of basaltic columns of large dimensions. On the shore of the lough, near the town, are some singular petrifactions of a blue colour, apparently the result of a spring issuing from a bank at high water mark. In a short road leading from the east to the north of the town is a chalybeate spring, at present little used.

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