The town was originally called "Inver Beg" after the (now culverted) stream which ran past the abbey. The name Bangor is derived from the Irish word Beannchar (archaically Beannchor, as seen on the town crest) meaning a horned or peaked curve or perhaps a staked enclosure, as the shape of Bangor Bay resembles the horns of a bull. It may also be linked to Beanna, Irish for cliffs.
Bangor has a long and varied history, from the Bronze Age people whose swords were discovered in 1949 or the Viking burial found on the Ballyholme beach, to the Victorian pleasure seekers who travelled on the new railway from Belfast to take in the sea air.
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The town has been the site of a monastery renowned throughout Europe for its learning and scholarship, the victim of violent Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries, and the new home of Scottish and English planters during the Plantation of Ulster.
The town has prospered as an important port, a centre of cotton production, and a Victorian and Edwardian holiday resort. Today it is a large retail centre and a commuter town for Belfast, though the remnants of the town's varied past still shape its modern form.
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