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The town of Coleraine is the second largest town in County Derry. Located near to the mouth of the River Bann, it is 88 km northwest of Belfast and 48 km east of Derry City. Coleraine had a population of 24,042 people which swells enormously during the educational terms due to the presence of the University of Ulster (above) in the town.
Disposable income is well above the Northern Ireland average. The North Coast (Coleraine/Limavady) area has the highest property prices in Northern Ireland, higher indeed than those of affluent South Belfast. Championship golf courses, scenic countryside and a host of leisure facilities and attractions are all on the doorstep. It has an attractive town centre, a marina and the prestigious Riverside Theatre. Coleraine, during the day is a busy town, however at night the town is relatively quiet, with much of the night life in the area located in the nearby seaside towns of Portrush and Portstewart.
Coleraine is situated at the lowest bridgeable point of the River Bann, where the river is a quarter of a mile wide. The town square is called ‘The Diamond’ and is the location of the Town Hall. The University of Ulster Campus was built in the 1960s but is one of the better pieces of architecture from that era.
Coleraine is the major commercial centre in the North West of Northern Ireland and has been designated as a major growth area in the Northern Ireland Development Strategy. Although the population of the town is only 24,000, Coleraine has a large catchment area. The town also has the advantage of being near some of the most extraordinary landscape in the whole of Europe. In 2002, Coleraine won the Best Kept Town and Ulster in Bloom awards.
Despite having a large unionist majority, the town has generally good relations between the main communities.
Coleraine has a long history of settlement. The Mesolithic site at Mount Sandel, which dates from approximately 5935 BC is the earliest evidence of human settlement in Ireland. The town was one of the two urban communities developed by the London Companies in County Londonderry (hence, Londonderry) in the Plantation of Ulster at the start of the 17th century. The slightly skewed street pattern of Coleraine’s town centre is legacy of that early exercise in town planning, along with traces of the lines of the ramparts that provided the Plantation town with its defences. With some industrialization, the expansion of the river port, and the development of the railway, the town expanded significantly throughout the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century.
Coleraine steadily expanded after the Second World War. The population doubled due to major industrial development on extensive suburban sites, the decision to site the New University of Ulster (now known as the University of Ulster) in the town, the expansion of commerce and the development of sporting and recreational facilities.
There are good hotels and all forms of accommodation. Leisure facilities abound and the location of the town makes it easy to explore sights and activities all around the coast of Northern Ireland.