Countdown to Larne’s Friends’ Goodwill Festival

Una Healey will perform at the Friends' Goodwill festival.
Una Healey will perform at the Friends' Goodwill festival.

The countdown is on to Larne’s Friends’ Goodwill Festival.

A packed programme of free events will mark the 300th anniversary of the departure of the Friends’ Goodwill ship from Larne to America back in 1717.

Four days of entertainment for all the family from Thursday May 18 until Sunday May 21 will include outdoor concerts, exhibitions, displays, historical re-enactments and American-themed sports.

Una Healy, who shot to fame with The Saturdays, headlines a fantastic line-up of artists and bands performing a wide range of music including country, Ulster-Scots, bluegrass and dance.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, said: “Everybody in Larne, Mid and East Antrim and throughout Northern Ireland is invited along to join us in celebrating the legacy of the Friends’ Goodwill voyage and the deep links forged between Ulster and America since the ship ventured across the Atlantic.

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has planned a host of brilliant events for all ages to enjoy and I look forward to seeing a great turnout to celebrate our shared culture and heritage.”

The Friends’ Goodwill voyage is so significant as it is believed to have been the first emigrant ship to sail from Ulster to America in the 18th century.

The US Consul General in Belfast has given his backing to the festival.

Consul General Daniel J. Lawton 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.”

Live outdoor concerts will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Sandy Bay Playing Fields.

Other top performers who will take to the stage include Jim Devine, The Broken String Band, Marty Mone, Dana Masters, Philomena Begley, Four Men and a Dog, Barry Kirwan and Niamh McGlinchey.

A free park and ride facility will be in operation from the Caterpillar site at the Old Glenarm Road, bringing visitors to the drop-off point at Larne Leisure Centre, close to the event site at Sandy Bay.

There will be three access points to the site: Rugby Road, Bay Road and Chelmsford Place. Disabled access-only via Tower Road.

There will be additional pick up and drop off points on Agnew Street.

The 359D Harbour service will also be in operation, picking up from Dunnes Stores, Main Street, and dropping off at the Curran Road/Tower Road junction.

A specialised changing and toilet facility for disabled adults and children will make its Northern Ireland debut at the festival.