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 Agepromontory 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. The name spelt as Latharne was used at one point in reference to the Anglo-Norman cantred of Carrickfergus.Latharna itself means "descendants of Lathar", with Lathar according to legend being a son of the pre-Christian king Úgaine Mór. 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. The loch was known as Loch Ollarbha or Inbhear nOllarbha. The territorial name 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". However, P.W. Joyce in his Irish Names of Places suggests that it comes from Ollarbha, the Irish name for the loch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The town is within the small parish of the same name. Like the rest of Ireland, this parish is divided into townlands. The following is a list of townlands within Larne's urban area, along with their likely etymologies:
Antiville (likely from An Tigh Bhile meaning "the house of the old tree")
Ballyboley (from Baile Buaile meaning "townland of the booley/dairy place")
Ballycraigy (from Baile Creige meaning "townland of the rocky outcrop")
Ballyloran (from Baile Loairn meaning "Loarn's townland")
Curran and Drumalis (from Córran meaning "crescent" and Druim a' Lios meaning "ridge of the ringfort")
Inver (from Inbhear meaning "rivermouth")
Many streetnames in Larne end in brae, such as 'Whitla's Brae' which comes from the Scots for "hillside".
The Town Park sits above the picturesque Promenade area, with walks from Waterloo Bay towards the Chaine Memorial Tower at Sandy Bay – a lighthouse and memorial to the founder of Larne Harbour sea route to Scotland. The Leisure Centre is nearby. The Promenade leads on to .
The Chaine Park contains the burial site of James Chaine and offers picturesque views over the North Channel.
The Curran park has a large children's play area, bowling facilities and camping. There are also tributes to emigrants to North America and Larne's connections with North America.
The Dixon Park contains a 2 hectare open green space area with bandstand.
Smiley park is a small park in the centre of the town also with tributes to emigrants to North America who left from the port of Larne.
Playing fields and cricket grounds at Sandy Bay.
Carnfunnock Country Park, 3.5 miles north of Larne is a large site with camping, caravanning, gardens, maze of Northern Ireland, sundials, children's play area, mini-golf, 9 hole pitch and putt golf course, Miniature railway, WOW balls, treasure trails, orienteering course, and walks.
Larne Leisure Centre offers a 25m indoor swimming pool, spa, sauna, weights, fitness, sports hall and theatre. It is situated at Sandy Bay near the picturesque Promenade area.
Larne Museum & Arts Centre, situated in the Carnegie Centre in the centre of the town.
Olderfleet Castle is the ruins of a 13th-century castle at Curran Point, near the Chaine Memorial Tower.
Diving tours are also available off the coast. The lighthouse on The Maidens rocks hosts a colony of seals. Numerous coastal bird species and other wildlife such as otters, whales and dolphins are often visible along the Larne coastal area.
Larne Lough is a protected bird-watching area and designated Special Protection Area, Area of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar wetland site to protect both birds and shellfish.
There are numerous stables horse-riding facilities in the area and pony trekking tours are available.
There are a number of Christian churches in Larne, including the following in alphabetical order:
All Saints' Church. This Church of Ireland parish church was constructed in 1962 in the then newly built Craigyhill estate with a hall added in 1971. It was originally a "daughter church" of the parish of St Cedma's, before being united with St Patrick's, Cairncastle, to form a new parish.
Church of God Larne. An Evangelical Pentecostal Church Located in Princes Gardens
First Larne Presbyterian Church. This Church describes itself "as one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations in Ireland " on its website. It is the home of the Larne music festival.
Gardenmore Presbyterian Church. Gardenmore is one of three Presbyterian Churches in the town of Larne. Although Presbyterians have been in Larne since the early 1600s, nothing is known about the origins of the congregation, although the church is believed to have been in existence for some years prior to the building of a meeting-house in 1769.
Craigyhill Presbyterian Church
Larne Baptist Church
Larne Congregational Church. This church was founded in 1879 by Rev James Orr, but nothing is recorded about other founding members and nothing is known about Rev Orr except that his time as minister lasted for six years until 1885 and that he had died before February 1910 when the new church was built at 38–40 Curran road. Before this there was an old tin/iron building on the Clonlee which was the original meeting place. It was known as the tin tabernacle. After it became unusable due to rust and decay, the church members met at 139 Main street in the town and some meetings were held in Rev Archibald Mackinlay's home at 20 Clonlee. Around this time (1900 approx.) monthly meetings were being held in the Intermediate school at Barnhill. This school was actually the end house in the terrace beside the Orange hall and is now a house again.
Larne Elim Pentecostal
Larne Free Presbyterian Church. This church came into being as a result of a protest when the minister of Gardenmore church (Dr R.V.A. Lynas) invited two priests, Joseph Murphy and John Miley to the opening of their new church hall on Friday 2 May 1969. Two local men, Jack McKee who later was Mayor of Larne and James Strange organised a protest along with approximately 30 others who had similar convictions. Following this, on 7 November 1969, an application was made to the Free Presbyterian church of Ulster to be recognised as a Free Presbyterian congregation. Rev William Beattie was appointed as Interim Moderator. A church was later built on the Mill Brae in the town (1971–72) which was then renovated in 2011-12 and is still there providing a witness in the town.
Larne Methodist Church. This church is one of three on the Larne Circuit. The other Churches on the circuit are Craigyhill and Carnlough Methodist Churches. The Methodist Church in Larne has maintained a presence in the town ever since visits from the founder of the Methodist Church Rev John Wesley. Methodism seeks to be "a friend to all and an enemy to none" and this is what the Larne circuit has tried to achieve through many years of ministry. The Methodist Church throughout the circuit is involved in many community and ecumenical organisations throughout the town. The previous Superintendent the Rev Andrew Kingston was always in awe of the great relationship this group built up between the churches in Larne.
Larne Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Old Presbyterian Church of Larne and Kilwaughter
St. Anthony's Church
St. Cedma's Parish Church. The oldest church in Larne is the St. Cedma's Church, the local Anglican or Church of Ireland parish church. Records show a church in the area going back to the 12th century, with the current building dating from around 1350. The Church has a traditional lychgate, made of Burma teak, which leads into the graveyard, featuring headstones dating back as far as 1677. The Most Reverend Alan Buchanan served in the parish before being elevated to the position of Archbishop of Dublin. The site is believed to have once contained a friary.
St. MacNissi's Church. This Catholic Church was built in 1857–1859 and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. It was built with basalt and sandstone dressings. It was designed by Robert Young of Belfast. There has been a church here since 1831, erected shortly after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, but proved to be too small. Enlargements were made in 1905 and a thorough restoration was carried out in 1993.
On Census day (27 March 2011) there were 18,755 people living in Larne, accounting for 1.04% of the NI total. Of these:
18.59% were aged under 16 years and 18.00% were aged 65 and over;
51.98% of the usually resident population were female and 48.02% were male;
67.03% belong to or were brought up Protestant and other non-Catholic Christian (including Christian related) and 25.97% belong to or were brought up Catholic;
71.62% indicated that they had a British national identity, 30.56% had a Northern Irish national identity and 8.75% had an Irish national identity (respondents could indicate more than one national identity);
41 years was the average (median) age of the population;
17.20% had some knowledge of Ulster-Scots and 4.02% had some knowledge of Irish (Gaelic).
A variety of shops can be found mainly along Larne Main Street, Dunluce Street, Laharna Retail Park, and large supermarkets off the Harbour Highway near the harbour. A variety market is also held every Wednesday at the Larne Market Yard.
Ferries sail from the harbour to Cairnryan in Scotland. Passenger services are operated by P&O Irish Sea which describes the crossings from Larne to Scotland as "the shortest, fastest crossings" due to the close proximity that Larne has to Scotland. An Irish Sea Bridge has been proposed, connecting Larne with Portpatrick in Scotland.
The Ballymena and Larne Railway was a narrow gauge railway. It opened in 1878, was closed to passengers in 1933 and finally completely closed in 1950. Another line ran from Larne to Ballyclare and some parts of it can still be made out where it ran along the Six Mile valley.
This gave the regiment the right to march through the towns of the borough with 'flags flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed'. The march was named Musa Qala.
Events in the Area
Larne Civic Parade: On the 1st weekend in June Larne Town Centre is closed for a few hours for the annual Civic Parade where the whole town gets involved in celebrating their love for the area.
The Goodwill Music Festival: On the second weekend in May Larne Town puts on a music festival like no other. The music festival occurs over a number of days and celebrates the Irish immigration taken in the 18th and 19th centuries to the promise land of America. There is plenty of local artist on show and some national ones as well.
Pop-Up Emporium Christmas Twilight Market: Occurs yearly in early December at the Larne Market Yard. This market is different from most others with live music and many local independent crafts, artisans, food, drink and other businesses involved.
Larne Half Marathon: The annual half marathon takes place mid-March and is one of the most popular half-marathons in the Northern Ireland with most of the route taking place on the famous East Antrim Coast Road.
Draperstown is a village in the Sperrin Mountains in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is situated in the civil parish of Ballinascreen and is part of Mid-Ulster district. It is also part of the Church of Ireland parish of Ballynascreen and the Catholic parish of Ballinascreen, and within the former barony of Loughinsholin.
Ahoghill is a large village and civil parish in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, four miles from Ballymena. It is located in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area. It had a population of 3,417 people at the 2011 Census.
Newtownabbey is a large settlement north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Sometimes considered to be a suburb of Belfast, it is separated from the rest of the city by Cavehill and Fortwilliam golf course. At the 2011 Census, Metropolitan Newtownabbey Settlement had a population of 65,646, making it the third largest settlement in Northern Ireland. It is part of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Ballymena is a town in County Antrim, and the eighth largest in Northern Ireland. It is part of the Borough of Mid and East Antrim. It had a population of 29,551 people at the 2011 Census.
Larne Lough is a sea lough or inlet in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The lough lies between Islandmagee and the mainland. At its mouth is the town of Larne. It is designated as an area of special scientific interest, a special protection area, and a Ramsar site to protect the wetland environment, particularly due to the presence of certain bird species and shellfish.
Magheramorne is a hamlet in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is about 5 miles south of Larne on the shores of Larne Lough. It had a population of 75 people in the 2001 Census. Following the reform of Northern Ireland's local government system on 1 April 2015, Magheramorne lies within the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area.
Glenarm is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies on the North Channel coast north of the town of Larne and the village of Ballygalley, and south of the village of Carnlough. It is situated in the civil parish of Tickmacrevan and the historic barony of Glenarm Lower. It is part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and had a population of 568 people in the 2011 Census. Glenarm takes its name from the glen in which it lies, the southernmost of the nine Glens of Antrim.
Glynn is a small village and civil parish in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies a short distance south of Larne, on the shore of Larne Lough. Glynn had a population of 2,027 people in the 2011 Census.
Ballycraigy is a townland in the Civil Parish of Carnmoney in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located near the Sandyknowes Junction where the A8 motorway spur diverges from the M2 motorway. The neighbouring townlands are Kingsbog, Ballyearl and Ballyhenry to the east, Ballyrobert, Carnanee and Craigarogan to the west and Ballyvesey to the south. To the north it is bordered by the Belfast to Derry railway line. The townlands is the site of the Ballycraigy Housing Estate in Antrim, south of Greystone and about ten miles (16 km) north of Belfast.
Whiteabbey is a townland in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Ballycarry is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is midway between Larne and Carrickfergus, overlooking Islandmagee, and is part of the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 981.
Kilrea is a village, townland and civil parish in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It gets its name from the ancient church that was located near to where the current Church of Ireland is located on Church Street looking over the town. It is near the River Bann, which marks the boundary between County Londonderry and County Antrim. In the 2011 Census it had a population of 2,724 people. It is situated within Causeway Coast and Glens district.
Dál nAraidi or Dál Araide, sometimes Latinised as Dalaradia or Anglicised as Dalaray, was a Cruthin kingdom, or possibly a confederation of Cruthin tribes, in north-eastern Ireland during the Middle Ages. It was part of the over-kingdom of Ulaid, and its kings often contended with the Dál Fiatach for the over-kingship of the province. At its greatest extent, the borders of Dál nAraidi roughly match those of County Antrim, and they seem to occupy the same area as the earlier Robogdii of Ptolemy's Geography, a region shared with Dál Riata. Their capital was Ráth Mór outside Antrim, and their eponymous ancestor is claimed as being Fiachu Araide.
Jack McKee was a Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) politician in Larne, Northern Ireland.
This is a timeline of actions by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group since 1966. It includes actions carried out by the Red Hand Commando (RHC), a group integrated into the UVF shortly after their formation in 1972. It also includes attacks claimed by the Protestant Action Force (PAF), a covername used by the UVF. Most of these actions took place during the conflict known as "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland.
Belfast Lower is a barony in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. To its east lies the east-Antrim coast and Belfast Lough, and it is bordered by four other baronies: Belfast Upper to the south, Carrickfergus to the east, Antrim Upper to the west; Glenarm Upper to the north. The Forth and Milewater rivers both flow through Belfast Lower, with Larne harbour also situated in the barony.
The Crumlin Road is a main road in north-west Belfast, Northern Ireland. The road runs from north of Belfast City Centre for about four miles to the outskirts of the city. It also forms part of the longer A52 road which leads out of Belfast to the town of Crumlin. The lower section of the road houses a number of historic buildings, including the city's former law courts and prison, whilst the road encompasses several large housing areas, including Ardoyne, Ballysillan and Ligoniel(from Irish: Lag an Aoil, meaning hollow of the lime)..
The Antrim Road is a major arterial route and area of housing and commerce that runs from inner city north Belfast to Dunadry, passing through Newtownabbey and Templepatrick. It forms part of the A6 road, a traffic route which links Belfast to Derry. It passes through the New Lodge, Newington and Glengormley areas of Northern Ireland amongst others.
The Ramble Inn attack was a mass shooting at a rural pub on 2 July 1976 near Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is believed to have been carried out by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary organisation. Six civilians were killed in the attack—five Protestants and one Catholic—and three others were wounded.