‘Don’t destroy the valuable history of Portrush’

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Members of Portrush Heritage Group made a plea to councillors last Tuesday night as they put forward their views on the Lansdowne Masterplan.

They asked Council not to implement the masterplan until an archeological dig at Antrim Gardens had been carried out.

The group say that the area is the last site of Medieval Portrush.

Highlighting the historical significance of Antrim Gardens to the town, John Moore, who spoke on behalf of the Portrush Heritage Group, told Council members that an excavation back in 2005 had supported the notion that a church and medieval abbey once stood on the site.

“We believe that no work of any kind should take place until a dig is carried out,” said Mr Moore.

“Do not take the risk of destroying the valuable history and heritage of Portrush.”

Chairman of the historical group, Dr Bob Curran gave members more information. He said that the abbey on the site dated back to the 12 or 1300’s and that it was a centre of faith and civil administration.

He said that during the 2005 dig the plinth of six community ovens had been found, and that experts believed that there would be more.

He told members that French pottery found at the site was linked to a network of monasteries extending from Portrush to Macosquin and on to France.

Dr Curran explained that the first mention of ‘Portrush’ was back in the 1350’s in a transfer of land from a monastery.

He added: “It is hard to understand how the consultants have ignored the historical importance of Antrim Gardens.”

The group’s vision, according to Mr Moore, is for a full excavation of Antrim Gardens to be carried out, and depending on what is found, the group believe that the site could become a tourist attraction and a teaching resource for schools and academics.

He added: “The important thing is that we expose what is there first - this has an immense potential for tourism and the community.

“We ask you not to do anything drastic until we see what there is at the site.”

Mr Moore added that community festivals, like the very successful Pirates of Portrush, could be spin off events from the dig. He said it would create ‘a community identity and sense of pride in our history’.