County Antrim

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County Antrim
Contae Aontroma
Coontie Antrìm / Countie Antrim

Coat of arms
Motto: Per angusta ad augusta  (Latin)
"Through Trial to Triumph"
Coordinates: 54°42′N 6°13′W / 54.7°N 6.217°W / 54.7; -6.217Coordinates: 54°42′N 6°13′W / 54.7°N 6.217°W / 54.7; -6.217
Country United Kingdom
Region Northern Ireland
Province Ulster
County seat Antrim
Area
 • Total 1,176 sq mi (3,046 km2)
Area rank 9th
Population (est. 2011) 618,108
 • Rank 2nd[source?]

Contae Aontroma is the Irish name; Coontie Antrìm,[1] Countie Antrim,[2] Coontie Anthrim[3] and Coonty Entrim[4] are Ulster-Scots names.

County Antrim is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland. It is in the province of Ulster. It is named after its former county town, Antrim. The name comes from the Irish Aontroim which means "lone ridge". [5] The largest part of the capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast, is also in County Antrim. The rest of Belfast is in County Down.

Geography[change | edit source]

A large part of Antrim is very hilly. The highest hills are in the east of the county. The mountain range runs north and south, and, following this direction the highest points are Knocklayd 514 m (1,690 ft), Slieveanorra 508 m (1,670 ft), Trostan 550 m (1,800 ft), Slemish 437 m (1,430 ft), Agnew's Hill 474 m (1,560 ft) and Divis 478 m (1,570 ft).[6] Along the coast there are a lot of cliffs in the north. Some of the most remarkable cliffs are those formed of vertical basaltic columns, like at the Giant's Causeway.

The only large island of County Antrim is L-shaped Rathlin Island, off Ballycastle, 11 km (6.8 mi) in total length by 2 km (1.2 mi) maximum breadth, 7 km (4.3 mi) from the coast.

The river Bann and the river Lagan are the two important rivers in the county. The fisheries of the Bann and of Lough Neagh (especially for salmon and eels) are of value both commercially and to sportsmen. The county borders Lough Neagh.

basalt columns at Giant's Causeway
Belfast International Airport
Larne Harbour

Transport[change | edit source]

County Antrim has a number of air, rail and sea links.

Air[change | edit source]

Belfast International Airport is in County Antrim. It is Northern Ireland's main airport. There are regular flights to Great Britain, Europe and North America.

The other airport in the area, George Best Belfast City Airport, lies a mile east of Belfast city centre on the County Down side of the city.

Rail[change | edit source]

The main Translink Northern Ireland Railways routes are the major line between Belfast, Antrim, Ballymena, Coleraine and Londonderry, Belfast to Carrickfergus and Larne, the port for Stranraer in Scotland and Coleraine to Portrush.

Sea[change | edit source]

Two of Northern Ireland's main ports are in County Antrim, Larne and Belfast.

Ferries sail from Larne Harbour to destinations including Cairnryan and Troon in Scotland, and Fleetwood in England.

The Port of Belfast is Northern Ireland's main port. It is a major centre of industry and commerce and has become established as the focus of logistics activity for Northern Ireland. Around two thirds of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade, and a quarter of that for Ireland as a whole, is handled at the port which receives over 6,000 vessels each year.[7]

Irish language[change | edit source]

Statistics for 2009-2010 show 1,832 students attending the 12 Gaelscoileanna (Irish language primary schools) and 1 Gaelcholáiste (Irish language secondary school).[8]

Religion[change | edit source]

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is the largest religious denomination, followed by the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. County Antrim is one of two counties in Ireland in which most of people are Protestant, according to the 2001 census, the other being Down. The strong Presbyterian presence in the county is mostly because of the county's historical links with lowland Scotland.

History[change | edit source]

Royal Avenue, Belfast. Photochrom print circa 1890-1900.

It is unknown when the county of Antrim was formed. It was the name of a district in the early 14th century, before Edward II was king. The earliest known people to live here were Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of pre-Celtic origin,[9].

In ancient times, a Celtic people called the Darini lived in Antrim.[10]

In the early Middle Ages, southern County Antrim was part of the Kingdom of Ulidia. It was ruled by the Dál Fiatach clans Keenan and MacDonlevy/McDunlavey. The north was part of Dál Riada, which stretched into what is now western Scotland over the Irish Sea. Dál Riada was ruled by the O'Lynch clan. The Dál nAraide and the Cruthin, who were pre-Gaelic Celts and probably related to the Picts of Britain[11]lived in lower County Antrim. Between the 8th and 11th centuries there were Vikings in Antrim too.

In the late 12th century Antrim became part of the Earldom of Ulster, won by Anglo-Norman invaders. Edward Bruce fought to restore local, Gaelic, government in 1315. It left Carrickfergus as the only significant English stronghold.

In the late Middle Ages, Antrim was divided into three parts: northern Clandeboye, the Glynnes and the Route. The Cambro-Norman MacQuillans were powerful in the Route. A branch of the O'Neills of Tyrone migrated to Clandeboye in the 14th century, and ruled it for a time. Their family was called O'Neill Clannaboy. A Gallowglass sept, the MacDonnells, became the most powerful in the Glynnes in the 15th century.

During the Tudor era (16th century) numerous adventurers from Britain wanted to come and live in the region. Many Scots settled in Antrim around this time.[12] In 1588 the Antrim coast was the scene of one of the 24 wrecks of the Spanish Armada in Ireland. The Spanish vessel La Girona was wrecked off Lacana Point, Giant's Causeway in 1588 with the loss of nearly 1,300 lives.[13]

Historic monuments[change | edit source]

Dunluce Castle.
Carrickferrgus Castle (1177)

The historical monuments of the county consist of cairns, mounts or forts, remains of religious and military structures, and round towers.

The principal cairns are: one on Colin mountain, near Lisburn; one on Slieve True, near Carrickfergus; and two on Colinward. The cromlechs most worthy of notice are: one near Cairngrainey, to the north-east of the old road from Belfast to Templepatrick; the large cromlech at Mount Druid, near Ballintoy; and one at the northern extremity of Islandmagee. The mounts, forts and entrenchments are very numerous.

There are three round towers: one at Antrim, one at Armoy, and one on Ram's Island in Lough Neagh. There are some remains of the religious establishments at Bonamargy, where the earls of Antrim are buried, Kells, Glenarm, Glynn, Muckamore and Whiteabbey.

Carrickfergus Castle, dating from the Norman invasion of Ireland is a well preserved medieval structure. There are, however, remains of other ancient castles, as Olderfleet, Cam's, Shane's, Glenarm, Garron Tower, Red Bay, and Dunluce Castle, notable for its dramatic location on a rocky hill.

Saint Patrick[change | edit source]

Slemish, about eight miles (13 km) east of Ballymena, is where St Patrick's lived when he was young. According to tradition Saint Patrick was a slave for seven years, near the hill of Slemish, until he escaped back to Great Britain.

Linen[change | edit source]

Linen manufacturing was previously an important industry in the County. At the time Ireland produced a large amount of flax. Cotton-spinning by jennies was first introduced to Belfast by industrialists Robert Joy and Thomas M'Cabe in 1777; and twenty-three years later it was estimated that more than 27,000 people were employed in the industry within ten miles (16 km) of Belfast.

Famous people from County Antrim[change | edit source]

Government[change | edit source]

The traditional county town is Antrim. More recently, Ballymena was the seat of county government. The counties of Northern Ireland ceased to be administrative entities in 1973, with the reorganization of local government.

In Northern Ireland the county structure is no longer used in local government. Northern Ireland is split into districts. The majority of County Antrim residents are administered by the following nine councils:

Small portions of the county are administered by councils that are based in neighbouring counties, notably the village of Aghagallon in the Craigavon Borough and the town of Portrush in the Coleraine Borough.

The county contains all of five parliamentary constituencies:

Parts of the following constituencies are also in County Antrim:

Ballycastle

Main towns and villages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Bonamargy Friary Guide Department of the Environment.
  2. North-South Ministerial Council: 2004 Annual Report in Ulster Scots
  3. 2008 annual report in Ulster-Scots Tourism Ireland.
  4. The Ulster-Scot, June 2011 Charlie 'Tha Poocher' Rennals.
  5. Postal Towns/Bailte Poist, Northern Ireland Place-name Project. Queen's University Belfast. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  6. "Mountain Views". Simon Stewart. http://mountainviews.ie/mv/index.php?ids=summit_view&mtnindex=361. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  7. Port of Belfast
  8. Statistics from the national Gaelscoil management body, accessed at http://www.gaelscoileanna.ie/assets/Oid-Tr%C3%AD-Mhe%C3%A1n-na-Gaeilge-in-%C3%89irinn-sa-Ghalltacht-09_101.doc, January 2012
  9. Waddell, John (1998). The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland. Galway: Galway University Press Limited. pp. 11–24.
  10. O'Rahilly, Thomas F. (1946). Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. p. 7.
  11. O'Rahilly, Thomas F. (1946). Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. pp. 341–352.
  12. Benn, George (1877). A History of the Town of Belfast. Belfast: Marcus Ward & Company. pp. 21 ff..; Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th edition), Antrim.
  13. "La Girona" (PDF). # Annual Report of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wrecks, 2005. Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites. pp. 35. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/ACHWS_annual_report_2005.pdf. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1967.
  15. Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9

Other websites[change | edit source]