‘First’ emigrants from Ulster to America remembered at Larne service

The service at Curran Park was attended by council representatives, naval military personnel and other dignitaries
The service at Curran Park was attended by council representatives, naval military personnel and other dignitaries

A poignant ceremony has been held in Larne’s Curran Park to mark the departure of the Friends Goodwill ship over 300 years ago.

The vessel set sail from Larne in 1717, with 52 passengers bound for America in search of a new life.

Its significant voyage is believed to have been the first emigrant ship to sail from Ulster to America in the 18th century.

In the following years up to 300,000 Scotch-Irish, or Ulster-Scots emigrants made their way across the Atlantic.

A service and scripture reading was conducted in the presence of elected members, naval military personnel and other dignitaries, including the Lord-Lieutenant for Co. Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE.

The American flag was raised to remember those who made the journey beside the Friends Goodwill monument as a piper played a fitting lament.

The outgoing Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Lindsay Millar, said: “This voyage signified the start of what would become the Great Migration.

“Those on board the Friends Goodwill vessel sailed into the dangerous waters of the Atlantic on route to a new life and fresh opportunity.

“It’s important to never forget the stories behind the history, woven into the fabric of Larne’s maritime legacy.

“This commemorative service quite rightly reflects upon the arduous four-month journey to Boston of the Friends Goodwill.”

The ceremony brought to a conclusion the local government authority’s two-day Friends Goodwill Festival programme.