Cairnryan is a small village overlooking Lochryan. From a humble beginning it has grown into a large modern ferry port, operated by P&O Irish Sea Ferries. Cairnryan links Scotland with Larne in Northern Ireland.
Cairnryan History. Cairnryan was first established as Lochryan in 1701, at the time when Lochryan House was built at the northern end of today's village. In the 1820s, Lochryan House was rebuilt in its present position, just visible from the main road. At that time, Cairnryan was an important post on the Ayr coach route, with many inns dotted along the coast. The town had a reputation for trouble caused by the highwayman who preyed on traffic on this route.
In the 1860s, a railway was built form Northern Ireland to Stranraer; had it gone instead to Cairnryan it would have turned the town into a main port for passenger services. By the 1940s, the Americans created a military port at Cairnryan and a 700-metre long pier that was built at the time still stands. During the Second World War, Cairnryan became the second military port of the region, enabling the construction of the floating ports, Murlberry Harbours, that allied depended on after D-Day.
During the Second World War, a military railway was built in Cairnryan by the army, linking the village with nearby Stranraer. However, it was taken apart in 1960s. The Second World War allowed the growth of a ship building and breaking industry in Cairnryan. The great aircraft carriers Centaur, Eagle and most famously the Ark Royal were all sent here for decommissioning. As recently as 1990, Russian submarines were dismantled for scrap at Cairnryan.
In the 1970s, P&O built a roll-on-roll-off terminal at Cairnryan for a ferry crossing to Larne, offering a much shorter crossing to Northern Ireland than from Stranrear ferry port.
When Atlantic Steam Navigation (ASN) started the Cairnryan to Larne ferry service in 1973, they used the Ionic and Baltic Ferry. In September 1975, the Doric and Cerdic Ferry replaced those two ships. Redevelopment of the land in the forefront of the port was finally completed some 25 years later, in the 21st century. A new terminal building was opened in 2004.
Cairnryan Attractions and Activities. Cairnryan hosts angling competitions attended by the people from all over the UK. Angling and deep-sea fishing is available on Loch Ryan and Luce bay is one of the finest angling spots. The area surrounding Cairnryan offers picturesque walks for people of all abilities. The Southern Upland Way starts at Port Patrick and finishes 212 miles later in the Borders. Glentrool Forest Park is popular with bird watchers and walkers. The district offers a range of fine bowling greens and 18 hole golf courses are situated a short drive away in nearby Stranraer, Port Patrick and Glen Luce. The open championship course at Turnberry is 30 miles away.
As a result of a Gulf stream flow, Cairnryan and the region have a mild climate, which allows the growth of a number of superb gardens. Ardwell, Castle Kennedy, Glenwhan , Dunskney, and Logan Botanical Gardens are fine examples.