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Greenisland, as viewed from the Knockagh Monument
|Population||5,486 (2011 Census)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Greenisland is a town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies 7 miles north-east of Belfast and 3 miles south-west of Carrickfergus. The town is on the coast of Belfast Lough and is named after a tiny islet to the west, the Green Island.
It is a semi-rural[ citation needed ] community located at the foot of Carn Hill , upon which stands the Knockagh Monument, a war memorial for those from County Antrim who died in the first and second world wars.
The town has two distinct areas, known locally as Upper Greenisland and Lower Greenisland after the upper Station Road and lower Station Road around which two parts are respectively located.[ citation needed ] Upper Greenisland stretches from Upper Road (B90) to the railway station at the bottom of Upper Station Road, includes Greenisland Primary School and features predominantly middle-class demographics and housing. Lower Greenisland runs from the railway station, down Station Road and ends at Shore Road (part of the A2 road). It features a large, predominantly Protestant working-class housing estate built during the 1950s and 1960s and includes Greenisland Library, Greenisland Community Centre, a number of churches, a small shopping parade at Glassillan Court and Silverstream Primary School. The village in its entirety stretches from the foot of the hill to the shore of Belfast Lough.
Originally, the area now known as Greenisland was merely an unnamed area of the town of Carrickfergus with the Silverstream river, now the western boundary of Greenisland, marking the westernmost boundary of the large town. Today, roadsigns indicate that the river, which now flows through the grounds of Belfast High School, is the exact boundary between the Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey boroughs. From 1602 to 1606 the "freemen", leading citizens of Carrickfergus, obtained the right to redistribute this area of land from the Crown, renaming the area the West Division - a name which remains legal today.
Farmland was distributed in strips from Knockagh Hill, to the shore of Belfast Lough and lanes were constructed to provide access to the farms and their houses, including important residences such as Castle Lugg. The most notable of these was Longfield Lane, which was eventually widened and surfaced to provide access to the railway station, becoming the Station Road.Many of the lanes also remain in their original narrow state, such as Neill's Lane and Windfield Lane both of which run north from the Shore Road on either side of Greenisland.
In the 1800s, following the growth of Belfast towards the end of the 18th century, several bathing lodges used for summer recreation were established in the area.One such lodge is still standing today and has been transformed into "Ravenhill Nursing Home" by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. During this period, Bassett's directory of 1888 notes that the area was "devoted entirely to handsome residences occupied for the greater part by gentlemen engaged in commercial and professional pursuits in Belfast".
The Belfast-to-Ballymena railway line was opened in 1845, which travelled through the area, providing one of the first transport links to the town from both Belfast and Carrickfergus. The village was finally given the official name of Greenisland in 1893 when the Greenisland railway station was constructed in its present site. Improvements in transport and a growth in prosperity led to more semi-detached and terraced houses in the area immediately surrounding the railway station.
In 1859, the Christian Revival that swept Ulster arrived in Greenisland and an open-air service was held in the field below Longfield Farm (now known locally as Johnstone Farm) which is still standing on the Station Road. By 1860 the interdenominational Ebenezer Hall was built for worshippers on the Shore Road. This was then followed in 1912 when the Presbyterian Knockagh Hall was built on the Upper Road. Neither of these buildings survive, but the congregations of these two churches remain. With Greenisland Ebenezer Church of the Nazarene now in Longfield Gardens and Greenisland Presbyterian Church on the Upper Road. Over the years they have been joined by several other churches as Greenisland has grown.
Greenisland Primary School replaced a school in Trooperslane in 1938, when it was realised that children had to walk two miles to Trooperslane and back every day. On the opening day, pupils arrived at the Trooperslane school and then walked to the new school carrying armfuls of books, jars of ink and other learning materials.
During World War II, the new school's headmaster, as an Army reservist, was called into action. Soon after, an air-raid shelter was built in the playground and gas masks were placed under desks, where the pupils would store their bags. Village residents formed a Home Guard and Civil Defence Post and air-raid drills became regular free 'entertainment' in the evenings. Stirrup pumps were issued to put out fires and proved very useful for watering gardens during the summer. The name on the outside of the school was covered during the war so that any German parachutists landing in Greenisland would be disorientated, not knowing where they were.
In Easter 1941, when a German plane was reported to have flown up the Lough towards Belfast, the anti-aircraft battery on Neill's Lane opened fire. It was the only occasion during the war that necessitated the air-raid shelters in Greenisland. The guns did not bring down any aircraft and only managed to crack some windows in the village. However, it was soon realised that a full-scale attack had been waged on the city of Belfast (today known as the Belfast Blitz, the greatest loss of life outside London during the Blitz) and the village's Air Raid Precautions volunteers disappeared into Belfast for several days to help with the recovery.
Greenisland has a number of shops and services which include: grocery shops and newsagents, a petrol filling station, a butcher's shop, a golf club,a hair salon and a barber's shop, a bakery, a dental practice and doctors' surgery, a chemist, a number of takeaway food outlets and a nursing home formerly known as The Knockagh Lodge, an off-licence, car sales, a cafe and two children's nurseries.
The area is also served by the local NEELB Library, and has a community centre, youth centre and Scout hall.
Carrickfergus Citizens' Advice Bureau operates an outreach service which is available at Greenisland Baptist Church on Wednesdays from 12.30 - 1.30pm. (September–June Only). Christians Against Poverty (CAP) have also opened a centre at Greenisland Baptist Church which offers help and advice to anyone struggling with debt issues. Contact details for CAP can be found on the Greenisland Baptist Church website.
Greenisland railway station, opened on 11 April 1848,provides direct rail links in both the Belfast and Larne directions, from around 5am until 11pm. The vast majority of train services from the Belfast and Larne directions stop at Greenisland, with the exception of occasional express Belfast to Carrickfergus services.
The vast majority of Ulsterbus Belfast and Carrickfergus/Whitehead bus services take a ten-minute detour into the Greenisland estate before continuing to their destination, providing the village with frequent transport links in each direction.
Greenisland has a number of sports clubs and facilities including Greenisland Golf Club, Greenisland Bowling Green, Greenisland War Memorial Sports Club (GWMSC), Greenisland Ladies Hockey Club, Greenisland Boys Football Club, Knockagh View Equestrian Centre, Knockagh Wrestling Club.[ citation needed ]
Greenisland was part of Carrickfergus Borough Council but is now part of the much larger Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and forms part of the Knockagh district electoral area. It is also in the East Antrim Westminster and Assembly constituencies.
On Census day (27 March 2011) there were 5,486 people living in Greenisland,an increase of 8.6% on the Census 2001 figure of 5,050. Of these:
There have been multiple attempts and campaigns since the 1970s for the A2 Shore Road bottleneck to be removed and a dual carriageway to be built. Each made varying amounts of progress with plans and purchasing of property but were later abandoned for various reasons.
Proposals began to re-emerge around 2005 for the introduction of a new multimillion-pound dual carriageway along the A2 Shore Road. In preparation for this, public consultations were conducted and relevant properties purchased. Conor Murphy the then Regional Development Minister stated in June 2010 that subject to "finances being available, delivery is expected to start in 2011-12, and the project should be completed in 2013". This was then further delayed until finances could be found.
On 14 February 2012 it was confirmed in a press conference at Stormont by Edwin Poots, Martin McGuinness, Peter Robinson and Danny Kennedy that "£57m (would) be spent on improving the A2 Carrickfergus to Belfast road."
On 31 January 2013 the contract for the widening of the A2 shore road was awarded to Graham Construction. Work began in March 2013 and was opened to traffic on 28 September 2015 .
In May 2019, Greenisland Football Club opened a state of the art 3G Football pitch - with the help of the Mid and East Antrim Council - for use by the whole community, which confirms their reputation as one of the best amateur teams in Northern Ireland
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