Spanish Armada in Ireland
The Spanish Armada in Ireland refers to the landfall made upon the coast of Ireland in September 1588 of a large portion of the 130-strong fleet sent by Philip II to invade England. Following its defeat at the naval battle of Gravelines the Armada had attempted to return home through the North Atlantic, when it was driven from its course by violent storms, toward the west coast of Ireland; the prospect of a Spanish landing alarmed the Dublin government of Queen Elizabeth I, which prescribed harsh measures for the Spanish invaders and any Irish who might assist them. Up to 24 ships of the Armada were wrecked on a rocky coastline spanning 500 km, from Antrim in the north to Kerry in the south, the threat to Crown authority was defeated. Many of the survivors of the multiple wrecks were put to death, the remainder fled across the sea to Scotland, it is estimated that some 6,000 members of the fleet perished off its coasts. The Spanish Armada was a fleet of 130 ships that sailed from A Coruña in August 1588 under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia with the purpose of escorting an army from Flanders to invade England.
It met with armed resistance in the English Channel, when a fireship attack off Calais broke its formation, was driven into the North Sea after the Battle of Gravelines. When the fleet entered the North Sea, 110 ships remained under Medina Sidonia's command. Many were damaged by gunfire or were running low on supplies, making them unfit for service in the Atlantic Ocean; some had cut their anchors in the flight from the fireships, which diminished their ability to navigate close to shore. The Armada commanders made a large navigational error that brought the fleet too close to the dangerous Atlantic coasts of Scotland and Ireland. After Gravelines the commanders of the Armada held a conference on Sidonia's flagship; some proposed a course for others for Ireland. The admiral made his choice, orders were issued to the fleet: The course, first to be held is to the north/north-east until you be found under 61 degrees and a half. Parting from those islands and doubling the Cape in 61 degrees and a half, you shall run west/south-west until you be found under 58 degrees.
The fleet was to approach the coast of Norway, before steering to the meridian of the Shetland Islands and on to Rockall. This allowed passage outside the northern tip of Shetland, clearing the coast of Scotland at a distance of 160 km. Once out in the broad Atlantic, the ships were to steer to a point 645 km beyond the Shannon estuary on the west coast of Ireland, giving themselves a clear run to northern Spain; the Armada's sailing orders were impossible to follow. The weather was difficult. Many of the ships and their crew members were in great distress; the navigators' charts were primitive, their best training and experience in the techniques of dead reckoning and latitude sailing fell far short of what was needed to bring the fleet safely home. The Armada failed to keep its course around the north of Shetland at 611⁄2'N. Instead, on 20 August, it passed safely to the south, between Orkney and Fair Isle, was carried into the Atlantic at about 591⁄2'N. From there it was due to sail from North Uist in the Hebrides Islands until it caught sight of the distant islet of Rockall, but failed again.
Southerly winds blew from 21 August to 3 September, stirred up by an anticyclone over Scandinavia, which prevented the fleet from running west-south-west as ordered. One report reflects the frustration of the navigators: "We sailed without knowing whither through constant fogs and squalls"; the sailing orders were rendered useless by the weather, but the miscalculation of the Armada's position contributed to its destruction. The navigators were unaware of the effect of the eastward flowing Gulf Stream, which must have hindered the fleet's progress - by as much as 30 km a day; the paymaster of the San Juan Bautista, Marcos de Aramburu, recorded a log of his progress from late August onwards, when the rest of the fleet was within sight. The inference from his observations is that his ship's estimated position as it turned for home was wrong, some 480 km to the west: its real position lay in the east, perilously close to the coasts of Scotland and Ireland; this single deficiency "made the difference between safety and disaster".
After seven weeks at sea the opportunity to make landfall and take on supplies and effect repairs must have been welcome, but navigation in these waters demanded intimate knowledge. The experience of Spanish mariners in the intricacies of north Atlantic conditions was confined to trading voyages to the south and south-west of Ireland, it is that the fleet's pilots preferred to maintain Sidonia's course, despite the hardships on board their ships. Most of the fleet – 84 ships – avoided land, most of those made it home, although in varying degrees of distress; the remainder were forced toward the coast of Ireland - 28 - and included several galleons and many merchantmen. The latter had been converted for battle and were leaking making sail with damaged masts and rigging, with most of their anchors missing; the ships seem to have maintained contact until the beginning of September, when they were scattered by a south-west gale (described in the contemporary account of an Irish government official as one "the like whereof hath not been seen or heard for a long ti
Bank of Ireland
Bank of Ireland Group plc is a commercial bank operation in Ireland and one of the traditional'Big Four' Irish banks. The premier banking organisation in Ireland, the Bank occupies a unique position in Irish banking history. At the core of the modern-day group is the old Bank of Ireland, the ancient institution established by Royal Charter in 1783. Bank of Ireland is the oldest bank in continuous operation in Ireland; the history is. 1783 – 25 June 1783, the Bank of Ireland opened for business at Mary's Abbey in a private house owned by one Charles Blakeney. 1808 – 6 June 1808, Bank of Ireland moved to 2 College Green. 1864 – Bank of Ireland first pays interest on deposits. 1926 – The Bank of Ireland took control of the National Land Bank – a friendly society. 1948 – The Bank of Ireland 1783–1946 by F. G. Hall was published jointly by Hodges Figgis and Blackwell's. 1958 – The Bank took over the Hibernian Bank Limited. 1965 – The National Bank Ltd, a bank founded by Daniel O'Connell in 1835, had branches in Ireland and Britain.
The Irish branches were acquired by Bank of Ireland and rebranded temporarily as National Bank of Ireland, before being incorporated into Bank of Ireland. The British branches were acquired by Glyn's Bank. 1980 - The first Pass card and machine were open known as ATM. 1983 – Bank of Ireland Bi-Centenary. A commemorative stamp was issued; the Bank commissioned the publication of "An Irish Florilegium". 1995 – Bank of Ireland merge First New Hampshire Bank with Royal Bank of Scotland's Citizens Financial Group 1996 – Bank of Ireland buys the Bristol and West building society for €882m, which keeps its own brand. 1999 – Merger talks with Alliance & Leicester were held and called off. 2000 – It is announced that Bank of Ireland is to acquire Chase de Vere. 2002 – Bank of Ireland acquires Iridian, the US investment manager, which doubles the size of its asset management business. 2005 – Bank of Ireland completes the sale of the Bristol and West branch and Direct Savings to Britannia Building Society.
2008 – Moody's Investors Service changed its outlook on Bank of Ireland from stable to negative. Moody's pinpointed concerns over weakening asset quality and the impact of a more challenging economic environment on profitability at Bank of Ireland. A share price collapse followed. 2009 – The Irish government announces a €7 billion rescue package for the bank and Allied Irish Banks plc in February. The biggest bank robbery in the history of the state took place at Bank of Ireland at College Green. Consultants Oliver Wyman validated Bank of Ireland's bad debt levels at €6 billion over three years to March 2011, a bad debt level, exceeded by €1 billion within a matter of months. 2010 – The European Commission orders the disposal of Bank of Ireland Asset Management, New Ireland Assurance, ICS Building Society, its US Foreign Exchange business and the stakes held in the Irish Credit Bureau and in an American Asset Manager followed the receipt of Irish Government State aid. 2011 – The Securities Services Division is sold to Northern Trust Corporation.
2013 – Bank of Ireland more than doubles interest rates on mortgages tracking the Bank of England rates, citing the need to hold more reserves and the'increased cost of funding mortgages'. Described by Ray Boulger of broker John Charcol as'having shot the reputation of its mortgages to smithereens' the bank continues to offer competitive mortgages through the Post Office. 2014 – Regulation of the bank will transfer to the European Central Bank. 2014 – Enters marketing alliance with EVO Payments International and re-enters the card acquiring market. BOI Payment Acceptance launches in December 2014; the Bank of Ireland is not, was never, the Irish central bank. However, as well as being a commercial bank – a deposit-taker and a credit institution – it performed many central bank functions, much like the earlier-established Bank of Scotland and Bank of England; the Bank of Ireland operated the Exchequer Account and during the nineteenth century acted as something of a banker of last resort. The titles of the chairman of the board of directors and the title of the board itself suggest a central bank status.
From the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922 until 31 December 1971, the Bank of Ireland was the banker of the Irish Government. The headquarters of the bank until the 1970s was the impressive Parliament House on College Green, Dublin; this building was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce in 1729 to host the Irish Parliament, it was the world's first purpose-built bicameral parliament building. The bank had planned to commission a building designed by Sir John Soane to be constructed on the site bounded by Westmoreland Street, Fleet Street, College Street and D'Olier Street. However, the project was cancelled following the Act of Union in 1800, when the newly defunct Parliament House was bought by the Bank of Ireland in 1803; the former Parliament House continues today as a working branch. Today, visitors can still view the impressive Irish House of Lords chamber within the old headquarters building; the Oireachtas, the modern parliament of the Republic of Ireland, is now housed in Leinster House in Dublin.
In 2011, the Irish Government set out proposals to acquire the building as a venue for the state to use as a cultural venue. In the 1970s the bank moved its headquarters to a modern building on Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2; as Frank McDonald notes in his book Destructi
Allied Irish Banks
Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is one of the so-called Big Four commercial banks in Ireland. AIB offers a full range of corporate banking services. AIB Capital Markets is the division of the company that offers international banking and treasury operations; the bank offers a range of general insurance products such as home and health insurance. It offers pensions through its tied agency with Irish Life Assurance plc.. In December 2010 the Irish government took a majority stake in the bank, which grew to 99.8%. AIB's shares are traded on the Irish Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, but its shares were delisted from these exchanges between 2011 and 2017, following its effective nationalisation; the remainder of its publicly traded shares were listed on the Enterprise Securities Market of the Irish Stock Exchange until 23 June 2017. AIB owns Allied Irish Bank in Great Britain and First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland. In November 2010, it sold its 22.5% stake in M&T Bank in the United States.
At the beginning of 2008 AIB entered the Latvian and Lithuanian markets by acquiring AmCredit mortgage finance business from the Baltic – American Enterprise Fund. This stake was sold at a loss to Swedbank in 2012. In 2009, Allied Irish Banks along with its competitor Bank of Ireland accepted a 3.5 billion euro bailout from the government of the Republic of Ireland as a part of the Bank Recapitalisation Scheme. Over several further tranches, the total bailout of AIB amounted to €20.7 billion. On 12 June 2017, the Irish government announced that the IPO of Allied Irish Banks to take place in the month might result in bank value of $14.9 billion. The IPO took place on 23 June 2017. Allied Irish Banks is referred to, both inside and outside the company as AIB and by its trade name of "Allied Irish Bank". In Northern Ireland, the bank trades as First Trust Bank, while in Great Britain, it is called "Allied Irish Bank"—the only part of the operation where the full name, in the singular, is still in day-to-day use.
The bank operated under the names of its former constituent companies, alongside a new AIB logo, a circle divided in three with an "A" at the centre. From 1970, these were replaced by "Allied Irish Banks". In 1990, AIB introduced a new logo Since the bank has preferred to be referred to as "AIB", though "Allied Irish Banks plc" remains its legal name; the bank is referred to colloquially as "AIB Bank", an example of a redundant acronym. This is due to the name "AIB Bank" being adopted for the Republic of Ireland branch banking business at the time of the 1990 rebrand; this version of the logo is no longer used in print advertising but can still be seen on the façades of most AIB branches in the Republic. The'Trustee Savings Banks' rebranded to "TSB Bank" in 1993; the new logo features a depiction of Noah's Ark, after a carving on a Celtic cross at Killary Church near Lobinstown in County Meath, which dates from the 9th century. Allied Irish Banks Limited was formed in 1966 as a new company that acquired three Irish banks: Provincial Bank of Ireland, the Royal Bank of Ireland, the Munster & Leinster Bank.
The banks saw an alliance as the best way to overcome the fragmented nature of the Irish banking industry. Ireland in the mid-1960s was changing fast and the merger strengthened the banks' position in the emerging global business era. In 1966, AIB's aggregate assets were €323.8 million—as at 31 December 2005, the AIB Group had assets of €133 billion. In the 1980s the introduction of their Automatic Teller Machine Network called Banklink just shortly after the Bank Of Ireland Pass. 1825 saw Provincial Bank commence operations. It established a branch in London. Royal Bank of Ireland commenced operations in 1836. Shaw's Bank merged. In 1867 the Munster Bank purchased some of the branches of the unsuccessful Union Bank of Ireland. In 1870 The Munster Bank acquired the long established private bank David La Son. In 1885 the Munster Bank is liquidated; however and Leinster Bank commenced operations. It would become the largest of the three banks with the most extensive branch network. In 1923 the Royal Bank of Ireland bought the Irish Free State business of the Belfast Banking Company, which in turn bought the Northern Ireland business of the Royal Bank.
Over the decades, AIB has become an international organisation. It created a branch network in Britain in the 1970s; the Can of Worms at ICI was the headline in Business & Finance magazine on 8 November 1984. The Insurance Corporation of Ireland was a wholly owned subsidiary of AIB when it collapsed in 1985 with losses of over £200 million; when it was discovered in November 1984 that ICI was operating below the statutory reserve ratio, a request for further capital was made to AIB — ICI had returned a profit of more than £80 million the previous year. This collapse occurred at a time of deep economic recession in Ireland; the level of Government debt at that time was 116% of GDP. But the Irish taxpayer bailed ICI out of its difficulties; the Irish Government did so to ensure a continuation of the insurance business and to protect policyholders. AIB claimed that it could not resolve the problems of ICI without putting its core banking business in jeopardy; the investment of £85 million by AIB in ICI was written off and
Ulster Bank is a large commercial bank, one of the traditional Big Four Irish banks. The Ulster Bank Group is subdivided into two separate legal entities, Ulster Bank Limited and Ulster Bank Ireland DAC; the Group's headquarters is located on George's Quay, Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland whilst the official headquarters of UBL is in Donegall Square East, Belfast, in Northern Ireland, it maintains a large sector of the financial services in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Established in 1836, Ulster Bank was acquired by the Westminster Bank in 1917; as a direct subsidiary of National Westminster Bank, it became part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group in 2000. It has 146 branches in the Republic of Ireland and 90 in Northern Ireland with over 1,200 non-charging ATMs; the Group has over 1.9 million clients. Ulster Bank was founded as The Ulster Banking Company in Belfast in 1836; the bank was formed by a breakaway faction of shareholders in the newly formed National Bank of Ireland, founded in 1835, who objected to the latter bank's plan to invest profits from the bank in London rather than in Belfast.
The founding directors of the bank were John Heron, Robert Grimshaw, John Currell a linen bleacher from Ballymena, James Steen, a Belfast pork curer. In 2002 three Ulster Bank employees were arrested on charges of money laundering; the three were responsible for the destruction of old banknotes at the bank's former Waring Street cash centre. Between November 2001 and February 2002 they were accused of stealing £900,000 of used banknotes designated for disposal; the money was placed in various bank and building society accounts. On 23 January 2004 the men were jailed for two and a half years for the theft of £770,000. Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr criticised the bank's security measures during the trial. In 2003/2004, Ulster Bank Group purchased First Active, Ireland's oldest building society, for €887 million. In 2009, the First Active branch network and business of several hundred thousand savers and borrowers was merged with Ulster Bank, the brand name was retired in 2010. In June 2012 a computer system failure prevented customers from accessing accounts.
Initial estimates that the problem would be sorted out within a week were wildly optimistic with thousands of customers still unable to access their accounts into late July 2012, with ongoing issues still not resolved by mid August 2012. This RBS / NatWest / Ulster Bank issue has proved to be one of the largest IT failures the world has known. Ulster Bank has set aside £28M for compensation to customers. In March 2014 it was reported that the RBS Group was considering merging the bank in the Republic of Ireland with some of its rivals in order to reduce its holding. RBS Group's annual results for 2013 revealed Ulster Bank had operating losses of £1.5 billion and accounted for a fifth of the parent group's total bad debt charges. In October 2014 RBS confirmed it would retain Ulster Bank following improved market conditions in Ireland. Ulster Bank provide a full range of banking and insurance services to personal and commercial customers. In Northern Ireland the bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Ulster Bank Limited is a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the British Bankers' Association. In Ireland, the bank is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland; the bank provides Visa Debit cards to customers with their current accounts, having issued Maestro and Laser debit cards to NI and ROI customers in addition to other financial services. It launched 15 new commitments to its retail customers in September 2010. Ulster Bank is used by RBS to deposit funds invested through the popular Royal Deposit Plan. From 1968 until 2005, Ulster Bank's logo was three chevrons – identical to that of the National Westminster Bank, its owner; the bank changed to the RBS "daisy wheel" logo and typeface style in October 2005. The bank is one of the four banks. In common with the other Big Four banks of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank retains the right to issue its own banknotes; these are pound sterling notes and equal in value to Bank of England notes, should not be confused with banknotes of the former Irish pound.
Ulster Bank's current notes all share the same design of a view of Belfast harbour flanked by landscape views. The principal difference between the denominations is their size. Notes incorporate the RBS "daisy wheel" logo, having incorporated the NatWest chevrons until 2006. 5 pound note, grey 10 pound note, blue-green 20 pound note, purple 50 pound note, blueIn November 2006 Ulster Bank issued its first commemorative banknote – an issue of one million £5 notes commemorating the first anniversary of the death of former Northern Irish and Manchester United footballer, George Best. This was the first Ulster Bank banknote to incorporate the RBS "daisy wheel", the entire issue was taken by collectors within hours of becoming available in bank branches. In 2019, Ulster Bank will be issuing a new series of banknotes printed in polymer, will be replacing its paper equivalents in circulation. On 8 February 2008, Ulster Bank Group Chief Executive, Cormac McCarthy, announced a three-year sponsorship deal worth over £1m for the Belfast Festival at Queen's.
It was hailed as a "new dawn" for the festival, suffering unde
Old Bushmills Distillery
The Old Bushmills Distillery is a distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. As of December 2014, it was in the process of transitioning from ownership by Diageo plc to Jose Cuervo. All of the whiskey bottled under the Bushmills whiskey brand is produced at the Bushmills Distillery and uses water drawn from Saint Columb's Rill, a tributary of the River Bush; the distillery is a popular tourist attraction, with around 120,000 visitors per year. The company that built the distillery was formed in 1784, although the date 1608 is printed on the label of the brand – referring to an earlier date when a royal licence was granted to a local landowner to distil whiskey in the area. After various periods of closure in its subsequent history, the distillery has been in continuous operation since it was rebuilt after a fire in 1885; the area has a long tradition with distillation. According to one story, as far back as 1276, an early settler called Sir Robert Savage of Ards, before defeating the Irish in battle, fortified his troops with "a mighty drop of acqua vitae".
In 1608, a licence was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips by King James I to distil whiskey. For the next seven years, within the countie of Colrane, otherwise called O Cahanes countrey, or within the territorie called Rowte, in Co. Antrim, by himselfe or his servauntes, to make and distil such and soe great quantities of aquavite and aqua composita, as he or his assignes shall thinke fitt; the Bushmills Old Distillery Company itself was not established until 1784 by Hugh Anderson. Bushmills suffered many lean years with numerous periods of closure with no record of the distillery being in operation in the official records both in 1802 and in 1822. In 1860 a Belfast spirit merchant named Jame Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery. In 1885, the original Bushmills buildings were destroyed by fire but the distillery was swiftly rebuilt. In 1890, a steamship owned and operated by the distillery, SS Bushmills, made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to deliver Bushmills whiskey to America, it called at Philadelphia and New York City before heading on to Singapore, Hong Kong and Yokohama.
In the early 20th century, the U. S. was a important market for Bushmills. American Prohibition in 1920 came as a large blow to the Irish Whiskey industry, but Bushmills managed to survive. Wilson Boyd, Bushmills' director at the time, predicted the end of prohibition and had large stores of whiskey ready to export. After the Second World War, the distillery was bought by Isaac Wolfson, and, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers, meaning that Irish Distillers controlled the production of all Irish whiskey at the time. In June 1988, Irish Distillers was bought by French liquor group Pernod Ricard. In June 2005, the distillery was bought by Diageo for £200 million. Diageo have announced a large advertising campaign in order to regain a market share for Bushmills. In May 2008, the Bank of Ireland issued a new series of sterling banknotes in Northern Ireland which all feature an illustration of the Old Bushmills Distillery on the obverse side, replacing the previous notes series which depicted Queen's University of Belfast.
In November 2014 it was announced that Diageo had traded the Bushmills brand with Jose Cuervo in exchange for the 50% of the Don Julio brand of tequila that Diageo did not own. Bushmills Original – Irish whiskey blend sometimes called White Bush or Bushmills White Label; the grain whiskey is matured in American oak casks. Black Bush – A blend with a greater proportion of malt whiskey than the white label, it features malt whiskey aged in casks used for Spanish Oloroso sherry. Red Bush – Like the Black Bush, this is a blend with a higher proportion of malt whiskey than the standard bottling, but in contrast the malt whiskey has been matured in ex-bourbon casks. Bushmills 10 year single malt – Combines malt whiskeys aged at least 10 years in American bourbon or Oloroso sherry casks. Bushmills 16 year single malt – Malt whiskeys aged at least 16 years in American bourbon barrels or Spanish Oloroso sherry butts are mixed together before finishing in Port pipes for a few months. Bushmills 21 year single malt – A limited number of 21 year bottles are made each year.
After 19 years, bourbon-barrel-aged and sherry-cask-aged malt whiskeys are combined, followed by two years of finishing in Madeira drums. Bushmills 1608: Originally released as a special 400th Anniversary whiskey; some Bushmills offerings have performed well at international Spirit ratings competitions. In particular, its Black Bush Finest Blended Whiskey received double gold medals at the 2007 and 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competitions, it received a well-above-average score of 93 from the Beverage Testing Institute in 2008 and 2011. The band NOFX mentions Bushmills in the song "Theme From A NOFX Album" on the 2000 release Pump Up The Valuum Tom Waits mentions'Old Bushmills' in the song "Tom Traubert's Blues" In the third-season episode of The Wire, Back Burners, Jimmy McNulty refers to Bushmills as "Protestant whiskey" when he is offered it after being told Jameson is unavailable Burt Reynolds plays a Police Lieutenant in the 1975 movie Hustle whose favorite alcohol is Bushmills Todd Rundgren cites "a half a pint of Bushmills" as a poor substitute for love in his song Hungry For Love from the 1973 album A Wizard, A True Star In the 1982 film The Verdict, the Paul Newman character Frank Gavin orders Bushm
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 3,046 square kilometres and has a population of about 618,000. County Antrim has a population density of 203 people per square kilometre or 526 people per square mile, it is one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland, as well as part of the historic province of Ulster. The Glens of Antrim offer isolated rugged landscapes, the Giant's Causeway is a unique landscape and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bushmills produces whiskey, Portrush is a popular seaside resort and night-life area; the majority of Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, is in County Antrim, with the remainder being in County Down. According to the 2001 census, it is one of only two counties of Ireland in which a majority of the population are from a Protestant background; the other is County Down to the south. A large portion of Antrim is hilly in the east, where the highest elevations are attained.
The range runs north and south, following this direction, the highest points are Knocklayd 514 m, Slieveanorra 508 m, Trostan 550 m, Slemish 437 m, Agnew's Hill 474 m and Divis 478 m. The inland slope is gradual, but on the northern shore the range terminates in abrupt and perpendicular declivities, here some of the finest coast scenery in the world is found differing, with its unbroken lines of cliffs, from the indented coast-line of the west; the most remarkable cliffs are those formed of perpendicular basaltic columns, extending for many miles, most strikingly displayed in Fair Head and the celebrated Giant's Causeway. From the eastern coast the hills rise but less abruptly, the indentations are wider and deeper. On both coasts there are several resort towns, including Portrush and Ballycastle. All are somewhat exposed to the easterly winds prevalent in spring; the only island of size is the L-shaped Rathlin Island, off Ballycastle, 11 km in total length by 2 km maximum breadth, 7 km from the coast, of similar basaltic and limestone formation to that of the mainland.
It is arable, supports a small population. Islandmagee is a peninsula separating Larne Lough from the North Channel; the valleys of the Bann and Lagan, with the intervening shores of Lough Neagh, form the fertile lowlands. These two rivers, both rising in County Down, are the only ones of importance; the latter flows to Belfast Lough, the former drains Lough Neagh, fed by a number of smaller streams. The fisheries of the Bann and of Lough Neagh are of value both commercially and to sportsmen, the small town of Toome, at the outflow of the river, being the centre. Below this point lies Lough Beg, the "Small Lake", about 4.5 m lower than Lough Neagh. County Antrim has a number of air and sea links. Northern Ireland's main airport, Belfast International Airport, at Aldergrove is in County Antrim. Belfast International shares its runways with 38 Brigade Flying Station Aldergrove, which otherwise has its own facilities, it is the fifth-largest regional air cargo centre in the UK. There are regular services to Great Britain and North America.
The region is served by George Best Belfast City Airport, a mile east of Belfast city centre on the County Down side of the city, renamed in 2006 in honour of footballer George Best. The main Translink Northern Ireland Railways routes are the major line between Belfast, Ballymena and Derry, Belfast to Carrickfergus and Larne, the port for Stranraer in Scotland and Coleraine to Portrush. Two of Northern Ireland's main ports are in County Antrim and Belfast. Ferries sail from Larne Harbour to destinations including Cairnryan in Scotland; the Port of Belfast is Northern Ireland's principal maritime gateway, serving the Northern Ireland economy and that of the Republic of Ireland. It is a major centre of industry and commerce and has become established as the focus of logistics activity for Northern Ireland. Around two-thirds of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade, a quarter of that for Ireland as a whole is handled at the port, which receives over 6,000 vessels each year; the population of County Antrim was 615,384 according to recent census information, making it the most populous county in Northern Ireland.
Statistics for 2009–2010 show 1,832 students attending the 12 Gaelscoileanna and 1 Gaelcholáiste. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is the largest religious denomination, followed by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church of Ireland. County Antrim is one of two counties in Ireland in which the majority of people are Protestant, according to the 2001 census, the other being Down; the strong Presbyterian presence in the county is due to the county's historical links with lowland Scotland, which supplied many immigrants to Ireland. Protestants are the majority in most of the county, whilst Catholics are concentrated in Belfast the west of the city, the northeast, on the shore of Lough Neagh; the traditional county town is Antrim. More Ballymena was the seat of county government; the counties of Northern Ireland ceased to be administrative entities in 1973, with the reorganization of local government. In Northern Ireland the county structure is no long
Belfast Harbour is a major maritime hub in Northern Ireland, handling 67% of Northern Ireland’s seaborne trade and about 25% of the maritime trade of the entire island of Ireland. It is a vital gateway for raw materials and consumer goods, is Northern Ireland’s leading logistics and distribution hub; the Belfast Harbour Estate is home to many well-known Northern Ireland businesses such as George Best Belfast City Airport and Wolff, Bombardier Aerospace, the Catalyst Inc, Titanic Quarter and Titanic Belfast. Over 700 firms employing 23,000 people are located within the estate. Belfast is only one of two ports on the island of Ireland to handle a full range of cargoes, from freight vehicles to containers, dry and liquid bulk, as well as passenger services and cruise calls. Belfast Harbour handled 23 million tonnes of cargo during 2015, similar to its throughput for 2014; the tonnages suggest a varying performance between sectors in the wider Northern Ireland economy. Belfast Harbour's origins date back to 1613 when a Royal Charter for the incorporation of Belfast specified the need for a wharf at the confluence of the rivers Lagan and Farset in what is modern-day Belfast’s High Street.
Records show that by 1663 there were 29 vessels owned in Belfast with a total tonnage of 1,100 tonnes. Trade continued to expand throughout the century, to the extent that the original quay was enlarged, to accommodate the increasing number of ships. By the early 18th century Belfast had replaced Carrickfergus as the most important port in Ulster and additional accommodation was necessary. A number of owned wharves were subsequently constructed on reclaimed land. Throughout the century trade continued to expand as Belfast assumed a greater role in the trading activities of the country as a whole. In 1785 the Irish Parliament passed an act to deal with the town's burgeoning port; as a result, a new body was constituted: The Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port and Harbour of Belfast called'the Ballast Board'. Although well established by this stage, the Port remained disadvantaged by the natural restrictions of shallow water, bends in the channel approach and inadequate quays; these problems, together with an increasing volume of trade, led to a new government act of 1837 under the Westminster Parliament.
This reconstituted the Board and gave it powers to improve the port, through the formation of a new channel. Initial work on straightening the river commenced in 1839 and by 1841 the first bend had been eliminated, thus beginning the creation of what was to become known as the Victoria Channel. In 1847 the Belfast Harbour Act repealed previous acts and led to the formation of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners; this new body, with much wider powers, completed the second stage of the new channel two years later. From that time the Commissioners have developed and improved the Port, reclaiming land to accommodate new quays, new trades and changes in shipping and cargo-handling technology. During World War II the Port of Belfast was used by the Royal Navy as the home base for many of the ships that escorted Atlantic and Russian convoys including Captain-class frigates of the 3rd Escort Group. HMS Caroline is a First World War light cruiser permanently berthed in Belfast Harbour and serves as the training ship for some 130 reservists as the headquarters for the Ulster Division Royal Naval Reserve.
She is the second oldest commissioned warship in the Royal Navy. Belfast West Power Station was opened in 1961 on a site in the port subleased to the Belfast Corporation Electricity Department; this subleased is today held by Northern Ireland Electricity. The station continued to generate electricity until its closure in March 2002. On 6 July 2007 the station's three 240 ft chimneys were demolished by controlled explosion and the remainder of the site was cleared in the following months; the site continues to be managed by NIE on behalf of the utility regulator which has stated that the various conditions of the lease "suggest that the best use for the site going forward is electrical generation." Belfast Harbour is an independent statutory body. Trust Ports are not owned by Government, its Board – known as Belfast Harbour Commissioners - is appointed by Northern Ireland’s Department for Regional Development on the basis of open public advertisement. The Commissioners number fifteen and are led by a Chairman.
The positions are for terms of three years. All of the Commissioners with the exception of the Chief Executive are non-executives; the current Commissioners are:David Dobbin, Roy Adair, Kyle Alexander OBE, Diana Fitzsimons, Deborah Lange, Jane Chambers, Richard Everitt, The Hon Hugh Pollock, Councillor Sonia Copeland, Councillor Mervyn Jones, Alderman Frank McCoubrey, Councillor Ciaran Beattie, Rotha Johnston CBE, Dr Gerard O'Hare CBE, DL, Christine Hayes and Dr Ed Vernon OBE. The port is patrolled by the Belfast Harbour Police, one of the oldest constabularies in the British Isles, dating back over 160 years. In recent times the service has faced new challenges as the relocation of marine facilities to the seaward end of the Port have created opportunities to develop new residential and public spaces. In addition to traditional port users the Harbour Police now provide a range of policing services to tenants and visitors who frequent the Harbour Estate. In 2014 476,000 freight vehicles used the Port, a 2.2% increase over 2013.
Stena Line's Belfast-Stanraer route and Belfast-Heysham service together carried 307,000 freight vehicles. This figure represents 20% of the Irish Sea Ro