The earliest settlement can be traced back to the 4th century and, according to "The Fairy Thorn" a book produced by Kilrea local historians, St Patrick visited the area. In the 1600s it became a plantation town and grew substantially during that time.
It has a busy market and a modern range of shops which are built around the attractive flower-bedded Diamond. The Portna eel fishery is based here, and the fish hatchery is one of the largest in Europe.
The River Bann is at its most pleasing here, with picturesque waterfalls at Portna and Movanagher. Angling is a favourite activity, and a range of sporting activities are carried out on the river and nearby loughs in beautiful settings.
The annual Fairy Thorn community festival in the summer is popular with all ages.