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  • Irish: Oileán Mhic Aodha
Near Browns Bay, Islandmagee - - 172680.jpg
Cottages near Browns Bay, Islandmagee, in 2006
Islandmagee is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
• Belfast18 mi (29 km)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLARNE
Postcode districtBT40
Dialling code028
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
Coordinates: 54°47′47″N 5°42′11″W / 54.79643°N 5.70304°W / 54.79643; -5.70304

Islandmagee (from Irish: Oileán Mhic Aodha, meaning 'Magee’s island/peninsula')[1] is a peninsula and civil parish on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, located between the towns of Larne and Whitehead. It is part of the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area and is a sparsely populated rural community with a long history since the mesolithic period. In the early medieval period it was known as Semne, a petty-kingdom within Ulaid.

It is the site of Northern Ireland's main power station Ballylumford and the endpoint of the Scotland-Northern Ireland gas pipeline.


The name comes from Mac Aodha (Magee) a prominent Irish family in the area. An earlier Irish name was Rinn Seimhne (peninsula of (the district of) Seimhne) from an original tribal name.[1]

The Bissett family held the tenancy of the peninsula in Elizabeth I's reign, their rent being an annual offering of goshawks, birds which bred on the rugged white chalk cliffs nearby.

Islandmagee was the site of the massacre of more than 3,000 Irish Catholics at the outset of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, with one witness testifying, 'About the beginning of November, the English and Scots forces in [Carrickfergus] murdered in one night, all the inhabitants of the territory of Islandmagee to the number of above 3,000 men women and children, all innocent persons, in a time when none of the Catholics of that county were in arms or [in] rebellion. Note that this was the first massacre committed in Ireland of either side’.[2] This was probably the first massacre of the rebellion and the War of the Three Kingdoms.[3]

It was the site of a witch trial in 1710 where eight women were convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to a year's imprisonment.

In the 19th century, the first dinosaur fossil bones found on in Ireland were discovered near Islandmagee.[4]

The last witch trial in Ireland was the Islandmagee Witch Trials in 1711. Eight local women were trialled. It is hoped to include these in a new historical tour.[5]


  • Islandmagee is the home of the Ballylumford Dolmen. Known locally as the "Druid's Altar", this megalithic monument could date to 2500 BC (The Early Bronze Age), or be the remains of an earlier Neolithic simple passage tomb dating to c. 4000 BC. It consists of four upright stones, with a heavy capstone and a fallenstone within the structure. The fallenstone may have been put there to block the entrance to the tomb.[6]
  • Neolithic houses have been excavated at Ballyharry, on the Islandmagee peninsula.[7] Finds included Neolithic pottery, flint arrowheads, javelin heads, polished stone axe fragments and quernstones.[8]
  • Dinosaur remains were found in the area in the 19th century and in the 20th century. These were the first find of dinosaur fossil bones ever found in Ireland.[9]

Gas storage project[edit]

The Gas storage project, owned by famous ship building firm Harland & Wolff, will consist of 7 underground caverns storing up to 500 million cubic meters of gas and is the only one in North West Europe to have 'Project of Common Interest' status from the European Union. Isandmagee Energy- About Us, Isandmagee Energy, 21 August 2021, retrieved 26 August 2021 The facility is expected to provide 25% of the UK's gas capacity when it is completed. Preston, Allan (13 August 2021). "Former naval chief joins board of Harland & Wolff owners". The Belfast Telegraph. London.


Civil parish of Island Magee[edit]

The peninsula is part of the parish of Island Magee. The boundaries of the parish and the peninsula match.


The gasline project is the subject of objections, citing "concerns of harm to dolphins, porpoise and whales". This caused the Environment Agency to extend the response time for consultation.[10] [11]

There has also been controversy over commemorating the Islandmagee Witch Trials. A local councillor said it would be a 'shrine to paganism'.[12] But others have said it should go ahead. One historian citing "It's a dark event in our history - but it happened. People are fascinated by what happened at the Islandmagee witch trials, and the council could get a lot more tourism value from their interest".[citation needed]


The civil parish contains the following townlands:[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Island Magee". Place Names NI. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  2. ^ John Gibney, ‘What about Islandmagee?’ Another version of the 1641 rebellion (History Ireland, 2013)
  3. ^ "Interpreting Islandmagee". History Ireland. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Dinosaur bones discovered in Ireland for the first time in history". The Irish Post. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  5. ^ "Gobbins tour guides 'not ordered to avoid witch trials'". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  6. ^ "Ballylumford Dolmen". Discover Northern Ireland. Retrieved 5 December 2007.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ O'Sullivan, Aidan; Breen, Colin (2007). Maritime Ireland. An Archaeology of Coastal Communities. Stroud: Tempus. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7524-2509-2.
  8. ^ "Investigations at Ballyharry Farm, Ballyharry, County Antrim" (PDF). Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  9. ^ "Dinosaur bones discovered in Ireland for the first time in history". The Irish Post. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Extension for responses to consultation on Islandmagee Gas Storage Project". The Irish News. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Islandmagee gas cavern project raises fears over wildlife impact". Belfast Live. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Gobbins tour guides 'not ordered to avoid witch trials'". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Islandmagee". IreAtlas Townlands Database. Retrieved 4 May 2015.

External links[edit]