Coordinates: 55°12′17″N 6°39′08″W / 55.20474°N 6.65222°W / 55.20474; -6.65222
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Planes on the beach during the yearly air show
Portrush is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population6,150 (Census 2021)
Irish grid referenceC855409
• Belfast50 miles (80 km)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT56
Dialling code028
PoliceNorthern Ireland
FireNorthern Ireland
AmbulanceNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
55°12′17″N 6°39′08″W / 55.20474°N 6.65222°W / 55.20474; -6.65222

Portrush (from Irish: Port Rois, meaning 'port of the promontory')[3] is a small seaside resort town on the north coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It neighbours the resort of Portstewart. The main part of the old town, including the railway station as well as most hotels, restaurants and bars, is built on a 1 mile (1.6 km)–long peninsula, Ramore Head. It had a population of 6,150 people at the 2021 Census.[4]

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 Great Britain which has hosted The Open Championship in 1951 and 2019.


Portrush Harbour c.1900
Portrush Chapel, Ireland (1850)[5]

A number of flint tools found during the late 19th century show that the site of Portrush was occupied during the "Larnian" (late Irish Mesolithic) period;[6] recent estimates date this to around 4000 BC.[7]

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.[8]

Following the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the mid-17th century, Portrush became a small fishing town. It grew heavily in the 19th 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 20th 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.[9]

The town's fortunes peaked in the late 19th and early 20th century, and declined after the Second World War with the growth of foreign travel. It escaped any involvement in the Troubles until 3 August 1976, when a series of bombings of properties burned out and destroyed several buildings, though with no loss of life.[10] In a second attack in April 1987, two officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were shot in the back by the Provisional Irish Republican Army while on foot patrol on Main Street.[11]


2021 Census[edit]

On Census day (21 March 2021) there were 6,150 people living in Portrush.[4] Of these:

  • 59.8% belong to or were brought up in a "Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)" faiths and 24.7% belong to or were brought up in the Catholic faith.[12]
  • 57.0% indicated that they had a British national identity,[13] 40.7% had a Northern Irish national identity[14] and 15.5% had an Irish national identity[15] (respondents could indicate more than one national identity).

2011 Census[edit]

On Census day (27 March 2011) there were 6,454 people living in Portrush (2,824 households), accounting for 0.36% of the NI total.[16] Of these:

  • 18.89% were aged under 16 years and 19.09% were aged 65 and over.
  • 51.78% of the usually resident population were female and 48.22% were male.
  • 66.90% belong to or were brought up in a "Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)" faiths and 24.84% belong to or were brought up in the Catholic faith.
  • 63.43% indicated that they had a British national identity, 32.89% had a Northern Irish national identity and 11.93% had an Irish national identity (respondents could indicate more than one national identity).
  • 42 years was the average (median) age of the population.
  • 15.75% had some knowledge of Ulster-Scots and 4.83% had some knowledge of Irish (Gaeilge).


Portrush has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb).

Climate data for Portrush (8 m or 26 ft elevation, averages 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.9
Average low °C (°F) 3.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 85.6
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 17.2 12.6 15.4 11.5 12.1 11.9 13.4 14.4 16.1 17.9 17.8 16.3 176.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 50.9 70.2 109.6 178.2 221.6 175.0 152.9 137.3 124.1 96.1 53.9 37.3 1,407.3
Source: metoffice.gov.uk[17]

Places of interest[edit]

Portrush's West Strand Beach.
Portrush shops
Portrush Town Hall
  • Attractions in the town include the "Coastal Zone" (formerly the Portrush Countryside Centre),[18] 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. The Open next returned to Portrush in July 2019.[19]
  • For the 2019 Open, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews invested significant funds in the region to improve the rail service and worked with the club to modify the course so it could better host a modern major championship. The 2019 championship had the largest advance ticket sales of any Open ever held.[20]
  • There are two long sandy beaches in the resort: 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). “To the People of the Sea”, a 13 ft (4 m) high bronze sculpture on the East Strand, inspired by the sails of local traditional boats, is by Cork-based sculptor Holger Lönze.[21]
  • Portrush is home to one of Northern Ireland's best known nightclubs. The nightclub Lush! was immortalised by CJ Agnelli of Agnelli & Nelson and Col Hamilton with one of their first releases, titled "Lush", and the later remixes, "Lush Gold".[22]
  • Portrush is also home to Barry's Amusements (now Curry's Amusements), the largest amusement park in Northern Ireland. Actor James Nesbitt once worked there. The park was put up for sale as a potential development site in May 2021, and reopened as Curry's in May 2022.[23][24]
  • The Skerries, a series of small rocky islets just off the coast, are an important habitat for several species, some unique to Northern Ireland.[25]
  • Portrush Town Hall which was completed in 1872.[26]


Portrush hosts an annual air show at the beginning of September.[27]

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution raft race is am annual event in which contestants must build a raft that can take them from the West Strand beach into Portrush Harbour. The event has been featured on Northern Ireland news broadcasts on several years and is a great credit to the RNLI's popularity locally.[28]

The North West 200 is a motorcycle road race following the triangular route around Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush. Held every May, with events in various engine categories, it attracts crowds in excess of 150,000.[29]

A panorama of Portrush


The following schools are in Portrush:[30]

  • 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.
  • Mill Strand Integrated Primary School.
  • St. Patricks Primary School.


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.[31]


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.

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.[32]


RNLI lifeboats have operated out of Portrush Harbour since 1860, and currently stationed there are the Severn class William Gordon Burr and the D-class inshore vessel David Roulston.[33]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Port Rois/Portrush". Logainm.ie. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. ^ Dunluce Castle US Archived 3 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine NI Department of the Environment. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Place Names NI – Home". www.placenamesni.org.
  4. ^ a b "Settlement 2015". NISRA. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  5. ^ "Portrush Chapel, Ireland". Wesleyan Juvenile Offering. London: Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society. VII: 31. March 1850. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. ^
    • Woodman, P. C. (1974). "The Chronological Position of the Latest Phases of the Larnian". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature. 74: 244. JSTOR 25506293.
    • Hewson, L. M. (1935). "Notes on Irish Sandhills". The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 5 (2): 238–242. JSTOR 25513788.
  7. ^ Price, T. Douglas (1987). "The Mesolithic of Western Europe". Journal of World Prehistory. 1 (3): 249. doi:10.1007/BF00975322. JSTOR 25800527. S2CID 162271625.
  8. ^ "Cite information" (PDF). www.qub.ac.uk. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Giant's Causeway Tramway – Discover Portrush". discoverportrush.com. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  10. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1976". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  11. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1987". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Religion or religion brought up in". NISRA. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  13. ^ "National Identity (British)". NISRA. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  14. ^ "National Identity (Northern Irish)". NISRA. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  15. ^ "National Identity (Irish)". NISRA. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  16. ^ "Census 2011 Population Statistics for Portrush Settlement". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Climate Normals 1981–2010". Met Office. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  18. ^ "Education at The Coastal Zone Portrush". UK: doeni.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Open Championship to be staged at Royal Portrush in 2019". BBC Sport. 20 October 2015.
  20. ^ Golf magazine, August 2019
  21. ^ "Portrush East Strand Sculpture: To the People of the Sea by Holger Lonze". www.peopleofthesea.info.
  22. ^ "Agnelli* – The Lush! Mixes (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  23. ^ "Historic Barry's Amusements in Portrush goes on sale for development". irishtimes.com. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Curry's Fun Park: when is the Portrush amusement park open and what are the rides". www.newsletter.co.uk. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  25. ^ "Skerries Survey 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  26. ^ "Town Hall Kerr Street Portrush Co. Antrim (HB03/10/001)". Department for Communities. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  27. ^ "Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting & Domain Names from Heart Internet". niinternationalairshow.co.uk.
  28. ^ "Portrush Royal National Lifeboat Institution website".[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "BBC Mobile – BBC Sport – N Ireland – North West 200 – About NW200". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Schools in Portrush". schools-search.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  31. ^ "Northern Ireland Milk Cup Fixtures". Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  32. ^ "Getting to Giant's Causeway". 14 December 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  33. ^ "RNLI launch lifeboat named after David Roulston". BBC. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  34. ^ Doward, Jamie (21 September 2014). "The real-life triumphs of the gay communist behind hit movie Pride". The Guardian.

Further reading[edit]

  • Abdelmonem, M.G. Portrush: Architecture for the North Irish Coast. Ulster Tattler Group. ISBN 978-0-9504092-1-4.
  • Deane, Ciarán (1994). The Guinness Book of Irish Facts & Feats. Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-793-2.

External links[edit]

  • "Portrush" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). 1911.
  • 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.