The early records available tell that Portrush was a seasonal location for Flint hunters and fishing. It developed as a fishing village. Earlier it was called Portruis (Cuan-Ard-Corran in Irish) which means “Point of the High Corner” – no doubt a reference to the high outcrop of basalt, the remains of which are now called Ramore head. It was the location of the O’Corrs castle and the 13th century abbey and close by are the impressive remains of the Dunluce Castle built originally by the clan Macquillan in the 14th century, later rebuilt by the Macdonnells of the Scottish Isles.
Religious life in Portrush can look back to the Ancient abbey sited on the present new Ramada Hotel site. In 1262 an annual tax of £25 4 shillings and 8 pence were paid under the Pope Nicholas IV. It is possible that an earlier religious site may date back to the 7th century as apart of the Celtic church. The oldest church building in the area is now the ruined Ballywillan church, which was attacked and sacked in 1642 by the Scottish army of General Munroe. As far as one can ascertain there was no actual place of worship in Portrush from then until 1831 when the Methodist Dr Adam Clarke initiated a school and worship centre. It was here that the first Presbyterian Church in the town met from 1836.
The Town of Portrush developed due to the rise in popularity of bathing and tourism, a growing economy, rail transport, the proximity of the Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Tram, not to mention it’s natural scenic beauty. The many Presbyterian visitors and locals desired a place of worship and eventually it was agreed to build the present church building. Such an undertaking for the 30 resident families was too much and the young minister who had just come in 1842 went off to the United States to find support. He left on June 23, 1842 and after 1 year and 14,000 miles he returned with $5465 from Irish immigrants making a new life in America.
The next major event in the life of the church was the Revival of 1858-9. This was an occasion when God visited the land in a powerful outpouring of blessing. The result of this was an increase in the church numbers. About 30% of the entire town were revived spiritually, most coming to a living faith for the first time. Thousands would meet in the open air at Ramore and Dunmull Hills listening to far travelled preachers such as Brownlow North. The famous American Evangelist Dwight L Moody preached in the church not many years after this.
Today we have a congregation of 320 families. Our goals have not changed since the early years – to be a living community of Believing and worshipping people of all ages. We emphasise:-
- The primacy of preaching as the great need of the age. In a morally confused and spiritually vague world we call people back to the solid truths of the Bible as the only hope for our world.
- The place of each Christian in using their gifts and talents in advancing the Cause of Jesus Christ.
- The spirit of service within our fellowship and in our community reflecting the one who came ‘not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many’