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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Derry County > Coleraine
Coleraine (from the Irish: Cúil Raithin meaning "Ferny corner") is a large town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland near to the mouth of the River Bann. It is 55 miles (88.5 km) northwest of Belfast and 30 miles (48.3 km) east of Derry, both of which are linked by major roads and railway connections. George Best Belfast City Airport to the south–east, City of Derry Airport, 25 miles (40.2 km) to the west, and the main regional airport, Belfast International Airport, to the south 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 theatre. 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 Portrush and Portstewart.

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 Theatre, 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.

History
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.


Attractions
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 Causeway is a twenty–five minute bus ride away. The distillery village of Bushmills 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 Causeway. Portrush, 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 Portstewart, with fine sandy beach and coastal walks.

North-west of Coleraine lies the small village of Castlerock, with a beach which is essentially a continuation of the beach at Portstewart, separated by the River Bann. Also nearby is the huge beach at Benone Strand and Mussenden Temple, built by Frederick Augustus Hervey, an 18th century Anglican bishop atop a precipitate cliff and overlooking County Donegal in one direction and Scotland 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.

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 Ireland. 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.


 
 
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Coleraine
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Coleraine
In: Derry
People: 24,042
Speak: English
Type: Market Town
GPS: -6.661, 55.133