A number of factors led the Ulster American Committee of Larne Borough Council to consider twinning:
- The Friend's Goodwill was the first emigrant ship to sail from Ulster to America, left Larne Harbour on or about May 1, 1717, with 52 passengers aboard. The ship arrived in Boston in early September.
- The 275th anniversary of the departure of the ship was marked by a reenactment of events in 1992 with a civic festival in Larne, a large pageant parade, a reenactment of the Battle of King's Mountain, a fireworks display, a church service and the unveiling of impressive statue in memory of the emigrants in Curran Park.
- A heritage trail was established across the borough, which focused on key figures whose roots lay in the area and who subsequently became prominent citizens of the USA. School links were established with schools in South Carolina.
Lead up to Twinning
The Ulster American Committee decided at an early stage that it would be advantageous for Larne town to twin with a community in the United States, which was interested in the heritage of the Scotch Irish. The American Consul and the government bodies had suggested that South Carolina might be a suitable area in this context.
What Happened Next
Letters were sent to South Carolina newspapers asking for descendants of Ulster Scots settlers to contact the Ulster American Committee in Larne. The response was staggering - numerous individuals and churches wrote back to underline a strong pride in their roots; the Committee's view that South Carolina was a suitable location in which to seek a twin was strongly reinforced.
Two members of the Scotch-Irish community invited the Committee's press officer, David Hume, to South Carolina; the Larne Borough Council (LBC) then funded this trip. A full report on the above trip was compiled and provided the Committee members with "on the ground" information on the potential for links to be developed. The report detailed three cities that had been visited: Spartanburg, Greer and York. The report suggested that York was likely to be the most promising.
A letter was sent to York authorities to ascertain whether there would be any interest in further twinning prospects with Larne. This approach led to no response and the Committee began to consider other potential twins.
Dr. Hume made a second visit to South Carolina. The potential of Clover was strengthened by the enthusiasm of Sam Thomas (resident of Clover and member of staff of the Historical Centre of York County.)
Dr. Hume went to spend some time in South Carolina in 1996 and was delegated to visit Clover in order to report back to the Committee of the prospect of a link. This was progressed through a presentation to LBC, where the Council accepted the proposal to further twinning links.
May 1997, a Council sponsored delegation visited Clover where they attended the Clover Feis Clobhair events. At this festival Mayor Cllr Sam McAllister and UAC chairman Liam Kelly JP signed the twinning charter along with Mayor Vance Stine of Clover.
In 1998 the Clover delegation came to Larne where they signed the second part of the charter before Larne Mayor Cllr. Joan Drummond.
In 2002, the vision was expanded and at the request of the Larne Borough Council, the York County Council signed a twinning charter with the LBC.
The origins of the twinning lie with the historic links between the Larne area and the United States. The potential of this history should be fully recognized and utilized.