Coleraine is the informal capital of the Causeway Coast and has all the modern amenities you need and has great historical significance too. This thriving town is busy all year round as it plays host to many National and International visitors who come to visit the Causeway Coast. Coleraine is within a few miles of some of the worlds most impressive coastal views natural attractions and pristine beaches.
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Coleraine, or Cúil Raithin means "Nook of Ferns" and was so named by St Patrick. I grew up here in this peaceful town on the River Bann, the longest river in Northern Ireland, home to 25,000.
'The Diamond' is the town centre proper with an impressive sandstone Town Hall built in 1859 and usually this area is bustling with people.
This award wining 'Tidy Town' has gorgeous floral displays throughout and plenty of places to sit and watch the world go by.
A pedestrian town centre makes shopping a safe and pleasurable experience. Many of the high street chains have shops in Coleraine and the independent local businesses, cafes, restaurants and pubs are great. The two independent department stores, well loved by the locals, Moores and Dixons, provide great all round shopping for yourself or others. Each has a restaurant and have been around for many years.
The opportunities for indoor and outdoor leisure pursuits are many. The leisure centre based in town offers a complex of pools, gym, health suite, sports hall and cafe and is open 7 days.
Soccer, swimming, cycling, gliding, water sports, fishing, sky diving, archery, climbing, rugby, tennis, snorkelling, athletics, clay pigeon shooting, diving, surfing, bowling, athletics, golf, putting, orienteering, boating, pony treking or whatever your choice of fitness it can be indulged in Coleraine.
There are three main local parks to visit, each offering something different for visitors, plus there are numerous inland, coastal, forest and parkland walking trails around town.
The Phoenix Peace Fountain, a present from the USA, is for public enjoyment in Anderson Park. Each symbol has a special meaning. You have to walk around the fountain in order to read the dedication in full on the six base platforms. You will recognised the hexagonal shapes of the world famous Giant's Causeway ancient rocks.
The modern Marina and commercial harbour is 1 mile out of town, just off the main road, on the way to Portstewart. It offers superb facilities including powered moorings for sailing of all types as well as canoeing, waterskiing and fishing. Coleraine is only a few miles away from 7 championship golf courses.
Coleraine's Riverside Theatre, one of Northern Irelands oldest professional theatres, is well known and loved. It provides top class entertainment plus a great youth drama programme known as Outreach. The theatre is run by the University of Ulster and Borough Council together and it is backed by some excellent actors who have intimate memories of it including James Nesbitt, one such local hero. I remember well (who could forget) his outstanding performance as Fagin in Oliver in 1978 and his International career goes from strength to strength.
Coleraine was the first town in Northern Ireland to twin with a European partner, La Roche sur Yon. This connection was designed to 'Foster and develop mutual understanding and respect' and to 'encourage and support exchange between individuals and group associations'. I spent some time in La Roche with my French Swap friend and we hosted her in our home in Coleraine, it was a really good experience and it most definitely helped my French.
Coleraine and surrounds has much historical significance as the first known settlement of man in Ireland around 5935 BC but was also the first town in the 'Plantation of Ulster' at the start of the 17th century. Evidence of this uncommon heritage is apparent as you explore the area.
The story of pre-plantation in Coleraine is turbulent. Ireland was, at that time, divided into kingdoms and each was governed by Chieftain. Over many years and through the clashes of clans Coleraine was settled many times.
After the Flight of the Earls in 1607, King James 1 took the opportunity to colonise Ulster in what was known as 'The Plantation of Ulster.' The Honourable The Irish Society' was founded to fund the building of the new fortified town of Coleraine. They were enticed by the promise of salmon fishing and timber.
Located in the middle of the gorgeous Mountsandel Forest is the the remains of Mountsandel Fort. The Fort is a State Care Historic Monument which dates back to 7000BC and the early Mesolithic and Iron Ages. It sits on the edge of a steep river bluff which falls into the River Bann on the opposite side of the river than the town.
Mesolithic and Neolithic man, Vikings, Saints, Chieftans, Norsemen, Earls, Barons, Rebels and heroes have frequented Coleraine in its past. For thousands of years man has known that Coleraine is a beautiful place to live!
Now Coleraine is an affluent town that is easily accessed by car, train and bus. The town has a great one way system throughout and the traffic moves smoothly through town, there are plenty of parking opportunities.
Coleraine has numerous walking trails in town and in the surrounding beaches, parks, rocks, rivers and forests. There are world class cycle tracks, including the National Cycle Network, which crosses the Millennium Bridge, which opened in May, 2001.
The easily accessible River Bann and Atlantic ocean makes all types of water recreational pursuits possible.
Coleraine is a large town ready for City Status, close to Portrush, Portstewart, Bushmills, Castlerock, Portballintrae and Ballycastle. Within minutes of the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Mussenden Temple.
Every May the Causeway Coast hosts one of the world's fastest road races, the 'North West 200'. The public roads between Coleraine, Portrush and Portstewart get turned into high-speed (up to 200 mls per hour) tracks, one of the last of its kind in Europe. It's an unbelievably thrilling race to watch, as you stand by the side of the road to get the best views of these powerful fast bikes coming speeding by. It's a busy time for the Causeway Coast, with additional crowds of 150,000 people coming every year to watch Ireland's largest outdoor sporting event.
Photographs cited under 'Fair Use' for informational purposes only:
The Diamond, Coleraine: http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000041887
The Diamond, Coleraine: http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000338194
Cottage Hospital Coleraine: http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000332792
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