Larne is an important town on the coast of Antrim. According to the latest census Larne has about 20,000 inhabitants. In front of Larne lies Larne Lough, a small natural gulf and excellent safe port protecting boats from the waves of the Atlantic. Larne is known by most non-Northern Irish for the ferry connections that run to and form England and Scotland with more 750,000 passengers leaving and arriving at the port. However, there is much more to the town than the port. It has a fascinating history and several places of interest to visit.
Larne Antrim – Early History
As with other Irish cities, Larne has a long history. The name Larne probably drives from Lathar, a son of the legendary great king of Ireland Ugaine Mor who reigned in the 5th century BC. What is more certain is that the Greek and later Roman explorers may have visited the area for Larne Lough as there seem to be references to in ancient maps.
Larne Antrim – Come the Vikings
From the end of the 8th century until about AD 950 the Vikings raided throughout the island but especially in the west and north. The area of Larne must have experienced its own share of fighting and pillaging. We know that the Vikings set camps just to the south in Strangford Lough and to the east in Lough Neagh. Larne Lough was for a time known as Ulfrich after a Viking king. The Vikings eventually stopped raiding and settled down to trade and live among the locals. It is hard to determine their impact on Larne town.
Larne Antrim – Later History
Larne played a role during the fighting between the English and the Irish. As a harbor invading forces at times landed here. Larne also played a role in the large waves of Irish immigration to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was from Larne that in May 1717, the Friends Goodwill, the first immigrant ship to sail from Larne left for America and landed in Boston. Many Irish Bostonians are descendants for immigrants either from the Larne area or who left Ireland through Larne. Later in the 18th century John Wesley, the great Methodism preacher and revivalist preached in Larne. A small plaque in the High Street marks the place where John Wesley preached. During the Troubles Larne was a loyalist stronghold and still retains a strong loyalist outlook. Today two things that dominate the business life of Larne are the Port and F. G. Wilsons a large factory that produces industrial generators and gives employment to a substantial part of the population of Larne.
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