The name Portstewart is a relatively modern name and descriptive of its origins, it came about in or around 1734 after Alexander McDonnell, the 5th Earl of Antrim gave the lease of a boat slip and surrounding lands to the Stewarts of Ballylease, a branch of the Royal Stewarts and the same Stewarts that owned Ballintoy.
Like most of the north coast, where safe anchorage for fishing boats existed, small settlements grew up and eventually harbours evolved. The first settlers here would have been primarily fishermen and their families.
After the landlord arrived, investments were made and the first purpose built harbour was constructed in 1832, later in 1889 this was enlarged with the final harbour you see today being finished in 1910.
The estate itself was inherited through marriage by the Cromie family of Cromore demense and later through marriage to the Montagu family. The estate also included land which was adjacent to the Stewarts and owned by the O'Hara family who had built an impressive castle on the promantory in 1834, where the DominicanCollege is today.
The castle was bought in 1917 by the Domincan Sisters who founded the college, it was later extended and modernised and still functions as a college today.
In a similar way to Portrush, Portstewart's attraction as a recreational resort saw it grow and prosper. Unlike Portrush who welcomed the age of rail travel with open arms, Portstewart resisted due to the convictions of Mr. Cromie who believed that this new form of travel would impact on Christian values, morality and Sunday worship.
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