Larne pioneers played critical role in ‘our shared history’ - U.S Consul

Consul General Daniel J. Lawton and Councillor Audrey Wales MBE visited a memorial to the ship's passengers, who left Larne back in 1717 in search of new lives, thousands of miles from home. Photo by Kelvin Boyes Press Eye.
Consul General Daniel J. Lawton and Councillor Audrey Wales MBE visited a memorial to the ship's passengers, who left Larne back in 1717 in search of new lives, thousands of miles from home. Photo by Kelvin Boyes Press Eye.

The US Consul General has given his support to the four-day Friends’ Goodwill festival which will mark the 300th anniversary of the epic voyage.

Consul General Daniel J. Lawton and Mayor, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE visited a memorial to the ship’s passengers, who left Larne back in 1717 in search of new lives, thousands of miles from home.

The remarkable journey is believed to have been the first of its kind from Ulster to America during the 18th century.

Speaking ahead of the Friends’ Goodwill Festival, which pays tribute to the bravery of those on the ship and celebrates Ulster-American links, Cllr Wales said: “I was delighted to meet with Consul General Mr Lawton in Larne and show him the Friends’ Goodwill Memorial in Curran Park.

“The festival, organised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, highlights the legacy of the brave visionaries on the ship that set off from Larne 300 years ago.

“They arrived in Boston four months later, having completed a route across the Atlantic from Ulster that hundreds of thousands would later follow.

“Tragically, we know of at least one passenger who did not survive.

“The Friends’ Goodwill emigrants paved the way for thousands of others to journey to America, where they went on to carve out successful lives and help shape the future of their adopted homeland.”

The Consul General said: “I am very pleased that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is celebrating the close and longstanding ties between the United States and Ulster.

“The men and women who left Larne starting 300 years ago - and those who followed - played a crucial role in shaping the American nation and our shared history.

“I also thank everyone involved in the Friends’ Goodwill Festival and wish it every success”.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is hosting four days of free events for all the family to mark the 300th anniversary of the Friends’ Goodwill sailing, including outdoor music concerts, barbecues, historical re-enactments and American-themed sports displays.

The packed programme of public, maritime-themed events will take place in Larne from Thursday 18 May until Sunday 21 May.

The Saturdays star Una Healy is headlining the Friends’ Goodwill Festival and will take to the stage at Sandy Bay Playing Fields at 9pm on Saturday 20 May.