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Coleraine ( ) is a large town in County Londonderry, Northern Irelandmarker near to the mouth of the River Bann. It is northwest of Belfastmarker and east of Derrymarker, both of which are linked by major roads and railway connections. City of Derry Airportmarker, to the west, Belfast International Airportmarker, the main regional airport to the south and George Best Belfast City Airportmarker to the south–east are all relatively accessible from Coleraine.

Coleraine had a population of 24,042 people in the 2001 Census. Disposable income is well above the Northern Ireland average. The North Coast (Coleraine/Limavady) area has the highest property prices in Northern Ireland, higher indeed than those of affluent South Belfast (according to the University of Ulster Quarterly House Price Index report produced in partnership with Bank of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive - March 2006). Championship golf courses, scenic countryside and a host of leisure facilities and attractions are all on the doorstep. It has an attractive town centre, a marina and the prestigious Riverside theatremarker. Coleraine, during the day is a busy town, however at night the town is relatively quiet, with much of the night life in the area located in the nearby seaside towns of Portrushmarker and Portstewartmarker.

Coleraine is situated at the lowest bridgeable point of the River Bann, where the river is a quarter of a mile wide. The town square is called 'The Diamond' and is the location of the Town Hall. St. Patrick's Church of Ireland is situated nearby. The University of Ulster campus was built in the 1960s but is one of the better pieces of architecture from that era and has brought a high quality theatrical space to the town in the form of the Riverside Theatremarker, where the quality of production often belies the small size of the town.

Coleraine is the major commercial centre in the North West of Northern Ireland and has been designated as a major growth area in the Northern Ireland Development Strategy. Although the population of the town is only 24,000, Coleraine has a large catchment area. The town also has the advantage of being near some of the most extraordinary landscape in the whole of Europe. In 2002, Coleraine won the Best Kept Town and Ulster in Bloom awards. In 2003, it was selected to represent Northern Ireland in the prestigious Britain in Bloom competition. It has its own local radio station: Q97.2FM

The Unionist-controlled Coleraine Borough Council operates a rotation for position of Mayor/Deputy Mayor between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Democratic Unionist Party and the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).


The centre of Coleraine
Coleraine has a long history of settlement. The Mesolithic site at Mount Sandel, which dates from approximately 5935 BC is the earliest evidence of human settlement in Ireland.

The town was one of the two urban communities developed by the London Companies in County Londonderry (hence, Londonderry) in the Plantation of Ulster at the start of the 17th century. The slightly skewed street pattern of Coleraine's town centre is legacy of that early exercise in town planning, along with traces of the lines of the ramparts that provided the Plantation town with its defences. With some industrialisation, the expansion of the river port, and the development of the railway, the town expanded significantly throughout the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century.

Coleraine steadily expanded after the Second World War. The population doubled due to major industrial development on extensive suburban sites, the decision to site the New University of Ulster (now known as the University of Ulster) in the town, the expansion of commerce and the development of sporting and recreational facilities. There has been a steady expansion of the urban area from the mid 20th century compact town of less than 1¼ square miles (2 km²), to the present much more dispersed town of about 7 square miles (11 km²). During the Northern Irish Troubles 13 people were killed in or near Coleraine, ten of them in two separate car bomb explosions.

Since 1980 growth has continued but at a slightly more modest pace. In the twenty years to 2001 the town’s population increased by 22% to approximately 24,000 but the rate of increase fell from 12% in the 1980s to 8% in the 1990s.

The Troubles


Coleraine also has the headquarters of Coleraine Borough Council which are situated in a splendid position overlooking the River Bann.
Overlooking the River Bann
The Borough Council area together with the neighbouring district of Limavadymarker, forms the East Londonderry constituency for elections to the Westminster Parliamentmarker and Northern Ireland Assembly. This is despite some of the borough being in County Antrim.


Coleraine is the main town of the world famous Causeway Coast, which attracts over two million visitors per year, spending in excess of £37 million. The world famous Giant's Causewaymarker is a twenty–five minute bus ride away. The distillery village of Bushmillsmarker is well-served by buses from the town and there is a narrow-gauge steam train running in the summer from Bushmills to the Giant's Causewaymarker. Portrushmarker, which is part of the Borough. The train journey takes approximately fifteen minutes from the town to the Causeway. Also north of Coleraine is the spectacularly scenic coastal town of Portstewartmarker, with fine sandy beach and coastal walks.

North-west of Coleraine lies the small village of Castlerockmarker, with a beach which is essentially a continuation of the beach at Portstewartmarker, separated by the River Bann. Also nearby is the huge beach at Benone Strandmarker and Mussenden Temple, built by Frederick Augustus Hervey, an 18th century Anglican bishop atop a precipitate cliff and overlooking County Donegalmarker in one direction and Scotlandmarker in another. The National Trust managed Downhill forest was part of the Bishop's Palace, and although the Palace itself is now a ruin the gardens are a wonderful place full of strange hidden lakes and gloriously tended flower gardens.

Places of interest

The east side of the town is distinguished by Mountsandel Forest, which contains the impressive Mount Sandel fort, an ancient site which has been claimed as the oldest site of human settlement in Irelandmarker. Here wooden houses dating from about 7000 BC were uncovered. The fort can be accessed via Mountsandel forest, the closest entrance being the side near the Coleraine Courthouse. There is another fort about 2 miles south from Mountsandel one near a small village called the Loughan.

Notable people


Coleraine has an outstanding variety of educational institutions at all levels. Most notably a major campus of The University of Ulster is located just outside the town. This was in fact the original campus of what was originally the New University of Ulster but which became the University of Ulster following its merger with the former Ulster Polytechnic at Jordanstownmarker just north of Belfast in the early 1980s. It is a world-class centre of research for biomedical sciences.

The Causeway Institute is a College of Further and Higher Education based in Coleraine, with another campus in nearby Ballymoneymarker.

The local schools include:



Coleraine itself contains Coleraine Rugby Club, established in 1921, Coleraine F.C., established in 1927 and currently in the IFA Premiership and CLG Eoghan Rua established in 1957. Coleraine is one of the hosting towns for the Milk Cup. Coleraine also makes part of the circuit for the North West 200, a series of motorcycle road races organised by the Coleraine and District Motor Club.

Within the local area, but not within Coleraine are a number of well known golf courses including Castlerock Golf Club, Royal Portrush Golf Clubmarker and Portstewart Golf Club.

2001 Census

Coleraine is classified as a Large Town (ie with population between 18,000 and 75,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 24,042 people living in Coleraine. Of these:
  • 24.6% were aged under 16 years and 16.4% were aged 60 and over
  • 47.3% of the population were male and 52.7% were female
  • 22.7% were from a Catholic background and 73.5% were from a Protestant background
  • 4.7% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service

Coleraine internationally

As with many Northern Irish towns, Coleraine is duplicated across the world - Coleraine in Minnesotamarker, United Statesmarker for example. In 1853, a surveyor named Lindsay Clarke was working on a township called Bryans Creek Crossing in Victoria, Australia. He renamed the town Coleraine.

A wine from New Zealandmarker, Te Mata Estate's Coleraine Cabernet/Merlot, is named after the town.

The Zomba Action Project is a charity founded in 2003 under the guidance of Coleraine Borough Council to aid the municipality of Zombamarker in southern Malawimarker, which aims to help some of the citizens of that region to build a better life for themselves and their children. The region was chosen due to the historical connections between the Presbyterian and Catholic churches and Malawi, sustained by a number of specific local contacts. Donations have been used to fund computers, education, medical and other projects.

A street in Montrealmarker, Canadamarker is named Coleraine in Pointe-Saint-Charles, which once was an Irish neighbourhood

See also


  1. The Statesman's Yearbook 2007, Macmillan Publishing, page 678, edited by Barry Turner, ISBN 10-1403992762/ISBN 13-97814039092765
  2. Planning service Draft Northern Area Plan, Accessed 27 December, 2006
  3. Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  4. NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Accessed 27 December, 2006
  5. Accessed on 27 December, 2006

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