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Islandmagee
  • Irish: Oileán Mhic Aodha
Near Browns Bay, Islandmagee - geograph.org.uk - 172680.jpg
Cottages near Browns Bay, Islandmagee, in 2006
• Belfast 18 mi (29 km)
District
  • Mid and East Antrim
County
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LARNE
Postcode district BT40
Dialling code 028
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament
  • North Antrim
NI Assembly
  • North Antrim
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Antrim
Coordinates: 54°47′47″N 5°42′11″W / 54.79643°N 5.70304°W / 54.79643; -5.70304

Islandmagee (from Irish: Oileán Mhic Aodha, meaning "Magee’s island/peninsula") is a peninsula and civil parish on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, located between the towns of Larne and Whitehead. It is part of the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area and is a sparsely populated rural community with a long history since the mesolithic period. In the early medieval period it was known as Semne, a petty-kingdom within Ulaid.

It is the site of Northern Ireland's main power station Ballylumford and the endpoint of the Scotland-Northern Ireland gas pipeline.

History

The name comes from Mac Aodha (Magee) a prominent Irish family in the area. An earlier Irish name was Rinn Seimhne (peninsula of (the district of) Seimhne) from an original tribal name.

The Bissett family held the tenancy of the peninsula in Elizabeth I's reign, their rent being an annual offering of goshawks, birds which bred on the rugged white chalk cliffs nearby.

Islandmagee was the site of the massacre of more than 3,000 Irish Catholics at the outset of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, with one witness testifying, 'About the beginning of November, the English and Scots forces in [Carrickfergus] murdered in one night, all the inhabitants of the territory of Islandmagee to the number of above 3,000 men women and children, all innocent persons, in a time when none of the Catholics of that county were in arms or [in] rebellion. Note that this was the first massacre committed in Ireland of either side’. This was probably the first massacre of the rebellion and the War of the Three Kingdoms.

It was the site of a witch trial in 1710 where eight women were convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to a year's imprisonment.

In the 19th century, the first dinosaur fossil bones found on in Ireland were discovered near Islandmagee.

The last witch trial in Ireland was the Islandmagee Witch Trials in 1711. Eight local women were trialled. It is hoped to include these in a new historical tour.

Archaeology

  • Islandmagee is the home of the Ballylumford Dolmen. Known locally as the "Druid's Altar", this megalithic monument could date to 2500 BC (The Early Bronze Age), or be the remains of an earlier Neolithic simple passage tomb dating to c. 4000 BC. It consists of four upright stones, with a heavy capstone and a fallenstone within the structure. The fallenstone may have been put there to block the entrance to the tomb.
  • Neolithic houses have been excavated at Ballyharry, on the Islandmagee peninsula. Finds included Neolithic pottery, flint arrowheads, javelin heads, polished stone axe fragments and quernstones.
  • Dinosaur remains were found in the area in the 19th century and in the 20th century. These were the first find of dinosaur fossil bones ever found in Ireland.

Sport

  • Islandmagee F.C. plays in the Northern Amateur Football League. Their home is Wilbourne Park and Michael Moore is the current manager.

Civil parish of Island Magee

The peninsula is part of the parish of Island Magee. The boundaries of the parish and the peninsula match.

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