Scots: Lairne[1][2]
Irish: Latharna

A birds-eye view looking south-east towards Larne Harbour, Islandmagee, and down the length of Larne Lough. Chaine Memorial Tower can be seen in the left of the picture, with Ballylumford power station behind the ferry.

Larne Coat of Arms
 Larne shown within Northern Ireland
Population 32,180 (2011 Census)
Irish grid referenceD4102
    Belfast 30 km (19 mi)  
DistrictMid and East Antrim
CountyCounty Antrim
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town LARNE
Postcode district BT40
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK ParliamentEast Antrim
NI AssemblyEast Antrim
List of places
Northern Ireland

Coordinates: 54°51′04″N 5°48′40″W / 54.851°N 5.811°W / 54.851; -5.811

Larne (from Irish: Latharna, the name of a Gaelic terrority)[3][4][5] is a seaport and industrial market town, as well as a civil parish, on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland with a population of 18,323 people in the 2008 Estimate.[6] As of 2011, there are about 32,000[6] residents in the greater Larne area. It has been used as a seaport for over 1,000 years, and is today a major passenger and freight roll-on roll-off port.[7] Larne is twinned with Clover, South Carolina which has named one of its schools, Larne Elementary School,[8] after Larne. Larne is administered by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Together with the neighbouring district of Carrickfergus and part of Newtownabbey, it forms the East Antrim constituency for elections to the Westminster Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The civil parish is situated in the historic barony of Glenarm Upper.[9]


The coastal area around Larne has been inhabited for millennia, and it 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. 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).[10][11][12] Larnian is also currently used to refer to people from Larne.

The river Inver runs through Larne and was the name of a small village (now area in Larne) to one side of the current Larne town. Its name is an Anglicised spelling of the Irish inbhear, meaning "river-mouth, estuary".

The oldest recorded name for Larne Lough is the Irish Loch Ollarbha (loch meaning "inlet") and Inbhear nOllarbha'. Larne Lough is thought to have bee mentioned by the Roman Emperor Serverus who described how, in 204AD, a Roman slave galley bound for Scotland was blown off course and took shelter in a place that they called Portus Saxa ("Port of the Standing stones").

The name spelt as Latharne was used at one point in reference to the Anglo-Norman cantred of Carrickfergus.[13] Latharna itself means "descendants of Lathar", with Lathar according to legend being a son of the pre-Christian king Úgaine Mór.[14] The area where the modern town sits was known in Irish as Inbhear an Latharna ("rivermouth of Latharna") and was later anglicised as Inver Larne or simply Inver. The territorial name Latharna was only applied exclusively to the location of the present 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.[15] 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. This was later anglicised as Wulfrickford, Wulfrichford and Wulvricheford. Other Norse-derived names for Larne Lough and the surrounding area are found in various records. They include Woking's Fyrth, Wolderfirth, Wolverflete and Olderfleet. The only one that survives is Olderfleet. The ending -fleet comes from the Norse fljot, meaning "inlet".[16] Older- may come from the Norse oldu, meaning "wave".[16] However, P.W. Joyce in his Irish Names of Places suggests that it comes from Ollarbha, the Irish name for the river.[17]

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, New England in the modern United States. 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 the 7th of 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.[18]

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.[19] 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 IRA bomb attacks during The Troubles, notably including a large car bomb at the King's Arms hotel[20] in 1980 that caused damage to the main shopping areas, for which the PIRA claimed responsibility. This incident was raised in Parliament at the time.[21]

Incidents which involved fatalities


Photograph looking north from Islandmagee illustrating the proximity to Scotland.

In the foreground is Islandmagee in Northern Ireland, followed by Stena Line ferries entering and leaving Larne, and The Maidens lighthouses.

In the background are the Scottish Paps of Jura on the left and Mull of Kintyre on the right.

Larne sits on the western side of a narrow inlet that links Larne Lough to the sea. On the eastern side of the inlet is a peninsula called Islandmagee. To the west of Larne is the ancient volcanic formation of Antrim Plateau, with its glaciated valleys scenically sweeping down to the sea to the north of Larne in what are known as the Glens of Antrim. Larne is 25 miles from the Scottish mainland, with stunning views across the North Channel towards the Mull of Kintyre, Rhins of Galloway, Islay and Paps of Jura often visible from the Larne area – this proximity to Scotland has had a defining influence on Larne's history and culture.

The town is within the small parish of the same name. The following is a list of townlands within Larne's urban area, alongside their likely etymologies:[31]

Many streets in Larne end in Brae which comes from the Lowland Scots for Hillside. Here are just 2 of many:

Civil parish of Larne

The civil parish contains the following townlands:[9] Antiville, Ballyboley, Ballycraigy, Ballyloran, Blackcave North, Blackcave South, Curran and Drumaliss, Glebe, Greenland and Town Parks.

Panorama of the Antrim Plateau and Antrim Coast from the Blackcave area of Larne.
From left to right (panning from West to North): Craigy Hill, Agnew's Hill, Sallagh Braes, Knock Dhu, Scawt Hill, Drains Bay, Ballygally Head, North Channel

Places of interest

Looking towards Chaine Memorial Tower and north along the Antrim Coast towards the Glens
The bandstand on Larne Main Street.
Maze in the shape of Northern Ireland in Carnfunnock Country Park


There are a number of Christian churches in Larne, including the following in alphabetical order:


Larne is classified as a Large Town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)[46]

On Census Day 27 March 2011, in Larne Local Government District, considering the resident population:

Respondents could indicate more than one national identity On Census Day 27 March 2011, in Larne Local Government District, considering the population aged 3 years old and over:

Industry and commerce

Larne in March 2007, with the FG Wilson plant dominating the top of the picture, Moyle Hospital in the centre, and the Laharna Retail Park (site of the former Invercon paper mill) at the bottom.

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.[52]


Larne Harbour from the hill at Inver. 
P&O "Express" fast passenger ferry entering Larne harbour. 
Freight ship docking at the port. 
The iconic Blackcave Tunnel or "Black Arch" at the start of the scenic Antrim Coast Road at the northern edge of Larne. 
Railway just south of Larne. 


There are a number of educational establishments in the area:

Primary Schools:

Secondary Schools:

Further education:

Public Services

Larne Town Hall

Larne Harbour Police

Larne Harbour Police is a small specialised police force, with approximately seven officers,[54] responsible for policing Larne Harbour 24 hours per day.[55] The officers of the force are sworn in as special constables under the Harbours, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847, and are responsible to Larne Harbour Ltd. Jurisdiction of the constables extends to one mile beyond the Harbour Complex.[56] The force are subject to the oversight of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.[57]

Notable people

Notable facts

Freedom of the borough

In memory of a battle in the town of Musa Qala in Afghanistan in 2006, involving the Royal Irish Regiment, a new regimental march, composed by Chris Attrill and commissioned by Larne Borough Council, was gifted to the regiment on Saturday 1 November 2008 in Larne, during an event in which the regiment was also presented with the 'Freedom of the Borough'.

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.[60]


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Larne.


  1. Dunluce Castle (Ulster-Scots translation) DOE. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  2. [Leaf through the Online Scots Dictionary]
  3. Larne/Latharna. Placenames Database of Ireland.
  4. Postal Towns/Bailte Poist. Northern Ireland Place-Name Project. Queen's University Belfast.
  5. Room, Adrian. Placenames of the World. McFarland, 2006. p.213
  6. 1 2 Local Government District information for Larne
  7. Port of Larne:History
  8. Elementary School Homepage
  9. 1 2 "Larne". IreAtlas Townlands Database. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  10. Larne Borough council – Local History and Heritage
  11. Larnian – Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology
  12. Larnian industry – Encyclopædia Britannica
  13. MacCotter, Paul. Medieval Ireland. Territorial, Political and Economic Divisions. The Heritage Council. ISBN 9781846825576.
  14. Place Names Northern Ireland. "Larne, County Antrim". Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  15. Danish Viking Ship Museum – Larne Viking Grave
  16. 1 2 Geoffrey Malcolm Gathorne-Hardy. The Norse Discoverers of America. Clarendon Press, 1921.
  17. Irish Times – Where's That?/Olderfleet 1365
  18. Hope, J., & Newsinger, J. (2001). United Irishman : the autobiography of James Hope: The autobiography of James Hope. p33-34 London: Merlin.
  19. A. T. Q. Stewart: "The Ulster Crisis", London, Faber and Faber Ltd., 1967 SBN 571 08066 9
  20. Report on King's Arms Hotel bombing
  21. Hansard commentary on King's Arms Hotel bombing being raised in Westminster
  22. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 264-265
  23. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 495-496
  24. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 514-515
  25. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 366
  26. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 575-576
  27. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 836
  28. UVF man shot as loyalists fall out | UK news | The Guardian
  29. David McKittrick et al Lost Lives page 1478-1479
  30. BBC News | NORTHERN IRELAND | Fresh appeal after bonfire murder
  31. "Northern Ireland Placenames Project". Retrieved 2010-06-12.
  32. Larne Borough Council overview
  33. Leisure Centre
  34. Larne Museum & Arts Centre
  35. Cairndhu Golf Club
  36. Larne Golf Club
  37. Ballygally and Carnlough beaches win UK awards
  38. Magheramorne reinvented by Lafarge
  39. Diocese of Connor website including All Saints' Church
  40. First Larne Presbyterian Church Website
  41. "Larne Music Festival hits the right note". Larne Times.
  42. St. Cedma's Parish church website
  43. The Diocese of Connor page on St. Cedma's Church, Larne
  44. Pictures of St. Cedma's Parish Church
  45. Larne Council website featuring Saint Cedma's Parish Church
  46. NI Statistics and Research Agency website.
  47. NI Neighbourhood Information Service
  48. FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd.
  49. TerumoBCT home page
  50. LEDCOM
  51. B9 Energy
  52. Larne Borough Council – Larne Market
  53. "Larne stations" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  54. Police Service of Northern Ireland, retrieved 2008-06-28
  55. "Passenger > Services". Website of Larne Harbour. Larne Harbour Limited. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  56. Hansard Report 5 June, 2006
  57. "Code of Ethics" (PDF). Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  58. "Bobby McKee elected new Mayor of Larne". Larne Times. Johnston Publishing. 12 June 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  59. Larnite Monerl Data and Location found
  60. Freedom of the Borough

Further reading

  • Cowsill, Miles (1998). Stranraer–Larne: The Car Ferry Era. Narberth, Pembrokeshire: Ferry Publications. ISBN 1871947405. 

External links

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