Tucked away in Bertie County, North Carolina taking up only a 0.3 square mile radius is the town of Colerain, named after the County Derry town Coleraine in Northern Ireland. Colerain, North Carolina was established in 1743 by Irishman John Campbell.
John Campbell was a Captain in the British Navy prior to his settling of Colerain, serving the British Crown throughout the 1730’s and early 40’s. Campbell came to North Carolina after serving his time with the Navy to find his fortune in the New World. The Bertie County Historical Society notes that Campbell, along with relatives and friends, purchased land in Anson County and Chowan County. Additionally he purchased 800 acres of land in the northeast of Bertie County, on the west side of the winding Chowan River and this is where he chose to settle. The proximity to the river and nearby ferry named Webb’s Ferry made Campbell’s land valuable, and it wasn’t long before the population swelled. Campbell decided to name this settlement Coleraine (later changed to Colerain) after his hometown of Coleraine in Derry.
Campbell built two manors during the settlement of his new home, the first he named Lazy Hill and the second, which he built for his daughter and her husband, was called Wingfield. Wingfield was named after the gorgeous Wingfield Home in Ireland, which today we know as the stunning Powerscourt Estate. The Wingfields were a family of Irish peers, with each successor to the estate being known as Viscount Powerscourt. The Wingfield home, as it was then known, was completely remodelled, beginning in 1731 and completed in 1741, two years before Campbell’s North Carolina settlement. The Campbell family’s lasting legacy to Colerain is its name, as John and most of his family moved away from the settlement following a fever epidemic that killed many in the town.
So is it Coleraine or Colerain? Campbell intended for his new settlement to be named exactly as his hometown, however according to the Bertie County Historical Association, when the post office was established in 1818 the ‘e’ was dropped. Colerain, North Carolina still exists today. It has a population of 204 according to the most recent US Census in 2010. Colerain made headlines both in America and abroad in 2011 after it suffered from a terrible storm, which killed eleven people and destroyed many homes.
While Coleraine, Northern Ireland and Colerain, North Carolina may not share too much in common besides a name, both towns are situated on rivers and both are home to important fishing industries. The first fishery in Colerain was set up by John Campbell and has existed in the town ever since. Likewise fishing plays an important part in Coleraine, Northern Ireland as it overlooks the River Bann.
If you live in or know of a city, town, or even a street with a distinctly Irish name and history, let us know in the comment section! There's so much Irish influence to be explored.