Portrush

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Portrush
Scots: Tha Port[1]
Irish: Port Rois
On the beach - geograph.org.uk - 53193.jpg
Planes on the beach during the yearly air show
Portrush is located in Northern Ireland
Portrush
 Portrush shown within Northern Ireland
Population 6,372 (2001)
Irish grid reference C855409
   – Belfast  50 miles (80 km) 
District Coleraine
County County Antrim
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PORTRUSH
Postcode district BT56
Dialling code 028, +44 28
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament East Londonderry
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Antrim

Coordinates: 55°12′17″N 6°39′08″W / 55.20474°N 6.65222°W / 55.20474; -6.65222

Portrush (from Irish: Port Rois, meaning "promontory port")[2] is a small seaside resort town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the County Londonderry border. The main part of the old town, including the railway station as well as most hotels, restaurants and bars, is built on a mile–long peninsula, Ramore Head, pointing north-northwest. It had a population of 6,372 people as measured by the 2001 Census. In the off-season, Portrush is a dormitory town for the nearby campus of the University of Ulster at Coleraine. It neighbours the resort of Portstewart.

The town is well known for its three sandy beaches, the West Strand, East Strand and White Rocks, as well as the Royal Portrush Golf Club, the only golf club outside of mainland Great Britain which has hosted the Open Championship.

It was the base for the Katie Hannan (this life boat was damaged in 2008, after running aground during a rescue at Rathlin Island, Now based as a training boat for the RNLI), a Severn class lifeboat and Ken and Mary, a D–class inshore lifeboat of the RNLI. Lifeboats have operated out of Portrush Harbour since 1860.

Portrush is in the East Londonderry constituency for the UK Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly.

History[edit]

A number of flint tools found during the late nineteenth century show that the site of Portrush was occupied during the "Larnian" (late Irish Mesolithic) period;[3] recent estimates date this to around 4000 BC.[4]

The site of Portrush, with its excellent natural defences, probably became a permanent settlement around the 12th or 13th century. A church is known to have existed on Ramore Head at this time, but no part of it now survives. From the records of the papal taxation of 1306, the Portrush church – and by extension the village – appears to have been reasonably wealthy. The promontory also held two castles, at varying periods. The first of these, Caisleán an Teenie, is believed to have been at the tip of Ramore Head, and probably destroyed in the late 16th century; the other, Portrush Castle, may have been built around the time of the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century. Nothing survives of either castle.[5]

Following the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the mid-seventeenth century, Portrush became a small fishing town. It grew heavily in the nineteenth century as a tourist destination, following the opening of the Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Portrush Junction Railway in 1855, and by the turn of the twentieth century had become one of the major resort towns of Ireland, with a number of large hotels and boarding houses including the prominent Northern Counties Hotel. As well as the town's beaches and the Royal Portrush Golf Club (opened 1888), the nearby Giant's Causeway was a popular tourist destination, with the Giant's Causeway Tramway – at the time, one of the world's longest electrified railways – built in 1893 to cater to travellers coming from Portrush.

The town's fortunes peaked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and declined after the Second World War with the growth of foreign travel. It escaped any involvement in The Troubles until 6 August 1976, when a series of bombings of properties burned out and destroyed several buildings, though with no loss of life.[6] In a second attack in April 1987, two officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were shot and killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army while on foot patrol on Main Street.[7]

Demographics[edit]

Portrush is classified as a Small Town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)[8] (i.e. with population between 4,500 and 10,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 6,372 people living in Portrush. Of these:

  • 20.8% were aged under 16 years and 23.1% were aged 60 and over
  • 46.2% of the population were male and 53.8% were female
  • 23.6% were from a Catholic background and 70.6% were from a Protestant background.
  • 5.1% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

For more details see: Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service.[9]

Places of interest[edit]

Portrush's West Strand Beach.
  • Attractions in the town include "The Coastal Zone" (formerly the Portrush Countryside Centre),[10] Waterworld swimming complex, and, on the edge of town, the links of the Royal Portrush Golf Club, which hosted the 1951 British Open golf championship, and Ballyreagh Golf Course. At the 1951 British Open golf championship young star Derek McLachlan won the hearts of the local crowd when he led on the third day by 3 strokes only to drive out of bounds twice on the final day of the Open and finish tied for 8th place.
  • There are two long sandy beaches in the town, known as the West and East Strand. White Rocks and Curran Strand stretch on from the East Strand and are backed by dunes. The coast continues past Dunluce Castle to the Giant's Causeway (it was once possible to travel to these attractions from Portrush on the Giant's Causeway Tramway). A 13 ft high bronze sculpture,[11] inspired by the sails of local traditional boats, is located at East Strand ('To the People of the Sea' by Cork-based sculptor Holger Lönze).
  • The White House department store is a well-known icon for many visitors.[citation needed] It has been on site for over one hundred and twenty years.[when?]
  • Portrush is home to one of Northern Ireland's best known nightclubs. The Kelly's complex consists of a multitude of bars and clubs and is Northern Ireland's largest nightclub complex.[citation needed] It includes the nightclub Lush! which attracts many of the world's top DJs and hosts BBC Radio 1 events.
  • Portrush is also home to Barry's Amusements, the largest amusement park in Northern Ireland. Actor James Nesbitt once worked in Barry's.
  • The Skerries, a collection of rocks located just off the coast, are an important habitat for several species, some unique to Northern Ireland.
  • Portrush parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5 km run along East Strand beach to the White Rocks and back.[citation needed] Every Saturday morning at 09:30 hundreds of parkrunners set off along the beach in the only parkrun on a beach in the world.

Events[edit]

  • Portrush hosts an annual air show at the beginning of September.[12]
  • The RNLI raft race is a popular annual event. This is a popular competition where contestants must build a raft that can travel from the West Strand beach into Portrush Harbour. The contest has been featured on Northern Ireland news broadcasts on several years. The event is a great credit to the RNLI's popularity in the area.[13]
  • The annual "Beach Party" attracts headline acts; the first, held in 2006 was headlined by Fatboy Slim.[14] 2007 saw Basement Jaxx and Happy Mondays. 2008 was headlined by The Chemical Brothers. *Portrush hosts an annual chilli cookoff with representatives from each of the adjacent towns. This began on 3 June 1998 and remains a well anticipated tradition. Portrush have never themselves won the cook off, instead they have been bested each year by their rival town Dunloy
  • The North West 200 is a motorcycle race which runs through Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush every May, a long-running tourist attraction which has attracted crowds in excess of 150,000 in past years.[15] The late brothers Joey Dunlop and Robert Dunlop have been regular winners at the races: they hold the record for most wins, with thirteen and fifteen respectively.
A panorama of Portrush

Education[edit]

The following schools are in Portrush:[citation needed]

  • Portrush Primary School: a primary school with a nursery unit on Crocnamac Road. The school educates around 250 pupils aged 4–11. Portrush Primary was established in 1959.
  • Carnalridge Primary School: reopened in 2010 by ex-pupil and professional golfer Graeme McDowell.[citation needed]
  • Mill Strand Integrated Primary School.
  • St. Patricks Primary School.

People[edit]

Portrush.
  • Rev. James Law, father of Canadian born Andrew Bonar Law, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, (1922–1923) was born here.
  • Actor James Nesbitt, although born in Broughshane and raised in neighbouring Coleraine, has many times described his fondness of and experiences in Portrush in his youth (The Friday Night Project). Nesbitt was instrumental in the decision to film an episode of Cold Feet around Portrush and the surrounding coastline.
  • Marie-Therese Emma Caraher-Gilbert, Mrs New Zealand 2006, lived in Portrush with her family from 1977 until 1990. Emma's family history in Portrush is long, dating back over 100 years.
  • Professional golfer Graeme McDowell, who was the first Irishman to win the US Open, was born in Portrush.
  • Singer-songwriter Roger Whittaker had his first professional gig in Portrush. Then, a graduate of the University of Wales, Bangor, he was just a rising star and thanks to a break in 'The Port' and a subsequent appearance on UTV, he got his big break.
  • Professional golfer Darren Clarke, winner of the 2011 The Open Championship, lives in Portrush.

Sport[edit]

  • Royal Portrush Golf Club. The only place outside mainland United Kingdom to host the British Open. 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke is the clubs resident professional, and lives in Portrush.
  • Portrush Hockey Club
  • The Northern Ireland Milk Cup uses Parker Avenue in Portrush as one of the pitches for the tournament, and many teams stay within the town itself.
  • All three of Portrush's beaches are frequently used by watersports enthusiasts, in particular surfers and bodyboarders
  • Coleraine council maintain tennis courts, bowling greens and a playground at Ramore Head.
  • Fishing is popular from shoreside or at sea, with Causeway Lass fishing boat available for hire at the Harbour.
  • Portrush is home to Fred Daly who was the first Irishman to win the British Open Championship in 1947.
  • Professional golfer Graeme McDowell, winner of the 2010 US Open, was born and lives in Portrush.

Transport[edit]

Portrush railway station was opened on 4 December 1855 and closed for goods traffic on 20 September 1954. The station is the last stop on the Coleraine-Portrush railway line, where travellers can connect with trains to Derry, Belfast and beyond.[16]

Portrush is a busy seaside resort, with a frequent train service run by Northern Ireland Railways connecting with Ulsterbus services linking to Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Abdelmonen, M.G. Portrush, Architecture for then North Irish Coast. Ulster Tattler Group. ISBN 978-0-9504.
  • Deane, Ciarán (1994). The Guinness Book of Irish Facts & Feats. Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-793-2. 

External links[edit]

  • Local Secrets on Things to do in Portrush – A list of the big attractions in Portrush, plus some local secrets to share. Specialist local information for lovers of golf, walking, fishing, riding and surfing.
  • Visit Portrush – Local guide to Portrush, featuring info on accommodation, activities, places to eat, services and travel.
  • Landscapes Unlocked – Aerial footage from the BBC Sky High series explaining the physical, social and economic geography of Northern Ireland.
  • ‘To the People of the Sea’ – Information on and images of the public sculpture on East Strand: three 13 ft high Drontheim yawl sails in bronze.
  • Portrush on the Culture Northern Ireland website.