First emigrant ship from Larne to America will be remembered 300 years on

A celebration is to be held to mark 300 years since the sailing of one of the first ships to leave these shores carrying emigrants to the New World.

During the 18th century, many Irish emigrated to America from the port of Larne.

This signalled the start of the migration of Ulster Scots, which helped found and shape the United States of America as we know it today.

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A monument in Curran Park commemorates the Friends Goodwill, the first emigrant ship to sail from Larne on May 1, 1717, bound for Boston with 52 passengers aboard.

And Mid and East Antrim borough Council has resolved to commemorate the historic milestone.

Alderman Gregg McKeen proposed the motion at the latest monthly meeting, which was agreed unanimously by elected members.

The DUP representative told the Times: “This was a significant event, as it marked the start of the whole migration of people from these shore to America.

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“It is an important part of Larne’s legacy and it should be celebrated accordingly.

“I have asked the council to start working up a plan for the anniversary in May 2017.

“This could perhaps be based on a nautical theme and incorporate tall ships, reenactments and a number of other activities.”

A memorial in Curran Park, Larne, was unveiled at the 275th anniversary of the sailing of the vessel, commemorating the first Ulster emigrants.

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The voyage across the Atlantic was a full of hardships for the 52 passengers.

Many of the provisions were spoiled by sea water during the rough crossing, and so food supplies quickly became scare.

After months at sea, those aboard the vessel had almost given up hope of reaching their destination, but land was sighted in the second week of September.

The Friends Goodwill reached Boston five months after departing Larne; remarkably all but one of those one board survived the perilous journey.

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