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Beauty is more than skin deep

History of Coleraine

  • council: Coleraine
  • population: 24,042
  • phone code: 028
  • postcode area: BT51, BT52
  • county: County Londonderry

Coleraine has a long history of settlement. The mesolithic site at Mountsandel is the earliest evidence of human settlement on the island of Ireland. Coleraine has associations with Saint Patrick from the 5th Century.

The town was one of the two urban communities developed by the London Companies in County Derry 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 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 2 square kilometres, to the present much more dispersed town of about 11 square kilometres.

Since 1980 growth has continued but at a slightly more modest pace. In the twenty years up to 2001 the towns population increased by 22% to approximately 24,000, but there was a reduction from 12% in the 1980s to 8% in the 1990s.

Mountsandel Fort near Coleraine is the oldest known settlement in Ireland. Here wooden houses dating from about 7000 BC were uncovered. The east side of the town is distinguished by Mountsandel Forest, which contains the impressive Mountsandel fort, an ancient site which has been claimed as the oldest site of human settlement in Ireland

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