There is a consensus of opinion and evidence that King John granted Glenarm a municipal charter in the 13th century and that a Borough of Glenarm existed, this fact would make Glenarm the oldest town in Ireland. We know the original castle was leased to the Bissetts by the Bishop of Down and Connor in 1270 which suggest that the castle was older. This could therefore have been a 12th century Norman castle, their presence here makes sense, as it is one of the shortest sea crossings to Scotland.
The harbour was well used and developed from the 12th century onwards. The harbour we see today stems from the 18th century when the limestone industries where at their peak. The quarry which you pass as you enter the village from the Larne side is owned by Omya UK. The quarry was originally a family run business which was incorporated into the Eglington Limestone Company in 1900, they also had interest in Carnlough and Ballintoy.
It was later taken over by the Clyde Shipping Company. As well as lime production there was also a Bleach Whitening Mill next to the river and a Layde which took the water down from the top of the glen to the mill.
Glenarm is also the start or finish of the Slemish Scenic Drive which loops off the Causeway Coastal Route and takes you to Slemish mountain, the location where Patricius (Saint Patrick) was kept in slavery for six years and where he discovered his spiritual calling. Having escaped he eventually returned to Ireland to bring the Christian message. The loop road takes you to Slemish and back down Glencloy and into Carnlough or indeed the reverse.
The harbour was given an upgrade a few years ago and has anchorage for passing yachts, work is also planned for the seafront area which perhaps is the weakest point of this beautiful village, in terms of appearance. Having said that once you have taken the time to explore this wee village you will come back again and again. There is a certain atmosphere and quaintness to it and the walks around it and up above on the glenside are terrific. Along the river by the bridge are ducks and swans all very eager to meet the passing visitor who may just have some bread for them.
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