Piers, Jettys, Marinas & Harbour Villages of Northern Ireland’s Coastline Part 1 (Co Down)
A comprehensive collection of facts and details relating to small ports that lay between Carlingford Lough in Co. Down and Lough Foyle in the N/W of the province.
Warrenpoint is a small port town in Co. Down near the top of Carlingford Lough, south of Newry.
Rostrevor would be its closest Village with the Mournes and Cooley Mountains also nearby. It is separated from the R.O.I. by a narrow strait. Warrenpoint is known for its scenic location, and has many annual festivals such as the Blues on the Bay. A bandstand in the town park provides concerts and in 1908 a saltwater swimming pool was built. The baths were opened by Captain Roger Hall on Whit Monday, 8 June in that year, but they are now closed to the public.
A passenger ferry service operates between Omeath and Warrenpoint and the nearby Narrow Water Castle. Warrenpoint Port is second in terms of tonnage handled by ports in Northern Ireland. The original Port of Warrenpoint, which consists. of a wet dock and Jetty, was constructed in the late 1770’s by Robert Ross, Roger Hall and Isaac Corry. Roger Hall sold the Port to John Kelly in 1921 for £15,000. The port continued to operate the until 1970 when it was then sold to Warrenpoint Harbour Authority for over £37,000.
Until the early 1970’s the Port of Warrenpoint acted as a lightering port for the Port of Newry These ports handled approximately half a million tonnes of cargo annually. Warrenpoint port has a daily scheduled Roll on Roll off service to Heysham on the Lancashire Coast together with a diverse range of scheduled services to continental Europe.
A railway connection opened in May 1849, increasing Warrenpoint’s popularity as a holiday destination. and Warrenpoint became popular as a resort town. Thousands head to the resort every year, where most took the passenger ferry to Omeath in Co Louth. The Warrenpoint railway station closed in early 1965. The Ferry is still in operation in the summer months.
Rostrevor harvests mussels in beds in Carlingford Lough. Mussel boats unload their harvest at locally known as Rosses Quay. The village has two rivers, the Ghan and the Fairy Glen, so named because many fairies are believed to be living along the side of the river.
The name “Rostrevor” comes from the Irish word Ros, meaning a wood or wooded headland. The second part of the name comes from Sir Edward Trevor from Denbighshire in Wales, who came to the area in the early 17th century. He was succeeded by his son Marcus Trevor, who later became Viscount Dungannon. Carlingford Lough Yacht Club is located nearby towards Kilkeel.
Scenic Carlingford Ferry
The Scenic Carlingford Ferry Service on Carlingford Lough is between Greencastle County Down and Greenore County Louth. The Scenic Carlingford Ferry is the first ferry service across Carlingford Lough connecting the Cooley Peninsula senic drive, the Ring of Gullion and the Mountains of Mourne & Coastal Senic Drive. Visitors can now enjoy the scenic beautiful and historic areas in the north east of Ireland.
For over 800 years ago, there has been a ferry service sailing between the medieval castles at Carlingford and Greencastle and local Dundalk, Newry & Greenore railway (D.N. & G.r.) and port in Greenore by the London & North Western Railway Company. The Greenore to Greencastle ferry provided a link for passengers coming and going to Holyhead in Wales from Greenore Port. The arrival of both the port and railway in Greenore was also to promote tourism in the region.
Kilkeel is a small town, civil parish and townland in Co Down and lies just south of the Mourne Mountains. The harbour at Kilkeel has the largest fishing fleet in Ireland and is busiest during fish landings and auction of the fish. Several species including herring, are sold on the quay. There are fish-processing plants around the port. The village has a large lobster industry and lobster pots can be observed along the coast.
In the summer of 2002 a £4m development was announced to upgrade safety and to support fishing capability at the harbour. The two piers were upgraded with a new winchand cradle provided for the slipway. The village is in the townland of Magheramurphy (meaning ‘Murphy’s plain’), and takes its name from a 14th century church and fort overlooking the town.
In May 1918 a fleet of Kilkeel fishing boats were sunk by the U-boat UB-64 12 miles off the coast of County Down.
Annalong (ford of the ships) is a seaside village in County Down, located at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and situated in the civil parish of Kilkeel. Recent redevelopment of the Fishing Villages Programme in the early 90’s, has seen significant changes including the deepening of the harbour approach channel and basin. Replacement of the main surge gate and the installation of a new floating pontoon for leisure craft was included in the upgrading.
The new facilities allow full all day access, providing safe and secure berthing for local boats and visitors. Annalong has a population of 1,758 people at the 2001 Census and lies within the Newry and Mourne District Council area. The town was once involved in exporting dressed granite but is now a fishing and holiday resort.
On 13 January 1843, boats from Newcastle and Annalong headed out for the usual fishing beds and were caught in a severe gale. 14 ships were lost in the heavy seas including a boat which had gone out to the rescue. Only two boats survived, the Victoria and the Brothers. 76 men were lost, 30 of whom were from Annalong.
Newcastle is a popular seaside resort town in County Down.
Newcastle town is known for its sandy beach, forests (Donard Forest and Tollymore Forest Park), and its mountains. The town lies within the Newry, Mourne and Down District.
The town promotes itself as an ‘activity resort’ for Northern Ireland and its most special attribute is its location. The town has benefited from a multi-million pound investment and is once again a high quality seaside attraction.
Newcastle’s name is thought to derive from the castle built by Felix Magennis of the Magennis clan in 1588, the castle stood at the mouth of the Shimna River.
In the 17th century Ulster ports became increasingly important. In 1625 William Pitt was appointed as commissioner of the ports of Newcastle, Dundrum, Donaghadee, Bangor Killough, Portaferry and Holywood. The Montgomery Manuscripts record that Newcastle was besieged and later captured by Sir James Montgomery of the Ards in April 1642 in the aftermath of the 1641 Irish Rebellion.
In the 1840s Lord Annesley assembled a new pier to function as a loading point for the Mourne granite, which was mined from the mountains above. Much of this granite were used to build docks in the cities of Belfast and Liverpool. Mourne Granite was also shipped all round the world, including London and New York. The granite was used to make the base of the 9/11 memorial in New York and the Albert memorial in London.
In 1910 Harry Ferguson flew a small plane across Newcastle beach believed to be one of the first engine powered flights by aircraft in Ireland, in an attempt to win a £100 prize offered by the town for the first powered flight along the strand. Newcastle is home to Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, which is in the Mourne mountain range. Another popular attraction in the town is Royal County Down Golf Club (venue for the 2007 Walker Cup and 2015 Irish Open), now recognised as the No.1 Golf course in the world, and is said to be one of Tiger Woods’ favourite golf courses.
Dundrum, County Down
Dundrum is a picturesque village on the south-east coast of County Down, about 36 miles south of Belfast and 5 miles north of Newcastle. The railway connection boosted the harbour when it reached Dundrum in 1868. The sidings from the main Belfast-Newcastle line extended down the quays which were owned by the East Downshire Steamship Co. The sidings were used for the export of potatoes and sand. The sand which was obtained at low tide by barges near the Inner Bay mouth. The East Downshire in the 1890s operated their own deep-water sailing ship, the Ruby, to import Canadian timber.
In 1984 Dundrum closed down as a commercial harbour, followed soon after by the end of the remaining East Downshire trading activities in the port. The warehouses and quays have now been redeveloped. Apart from a few small leisure and fishing craft moored at the northern end of the former quay, nothing remains of the port.
Dundrum offers a range of sports and attractions that are popular with residents and holidaymakers throughout the year. South of Dundrum there are great views of the Mourne Mountains and to the north, views of Dundrum Castle. Dundrum is perfectly placed as a base for walking and bird watching. Dundrum has many accommodation options, from Camping, self-catering apartments and luxury B&B’s.
County Down has also provided a number of filming locations for the world famous TV series ‘Game Of Thrones’, including the Mourne Mountains, Tollymore Forest Park and Castle Ward. Although Dundrum Castle has not featured in the series it does appear on a number of Games Of Thrones tours.
Killough meaning (‘church of the lough’) is a village and townland in Co Down. It sits on the Irish Sea shore close to Ardglass, just a few miles southeast of Downpatrick. It is notable for its sycamore main street. In the 17th century Ulster ports began to rise in prominence. Killough was originally known as St Anne’s Port. The harbour was built in the 18th century by the Wards of Castle Ward house. A straight road still links Castle Ward to Killough. The village and port was the idea of Michael Ward who established a salt works and made major improvements to the harbour. Barley was the principal export trade.
After the outbreak of war between Great Britain and France in 1793, Cereals harvest increased in Lecale and Killough. As one of the ports of export, Killough expanded to deal with the extra demand and its population doubled. For a brief period in the early 19th century, Killough was the busiest of the seaside villages of East Down, in many ways the most attractive. The post-war depression of the 1830’s resulted in a fall in grain prices. For a short time reserves enabled them to keep going, but soon Killough saw one grain store after another close and its once busy harbour lay idle. The decline of the village was reflected in the population which fell dramatically 1937.
The St John’s Point lighthouse and ancient church are close to Killough.
St Johns Chapel was erected in 1828 with funds donated by a merchant named Mr Rogan. In 1844 the chapel was altered and rebuilt. St Anne’s Church was built in 1716, and also rebuilt in 1815. St. Joseph’s Primary School is located on Main Street. In the 2001 Census Killough had a population of 845 people.
Killough was used as one of the filming locations for the 2008 Kari Skogland film ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’, again was used as the main Irish filming location for ‘The Shore’, an Academy Award winning short film about a man who emigrated to America to escape the Troubles. Scenes from Terry George’s 2011 film ‘Whole Lotta Sole’ starring Brendan Fraser and Martin McCann used Killough’s harbour and beaches for many of the exterior shots. The village is the inspiration for the book ‘Sweet Killough, Let Go Your Anchor ‘by Irish politician Maurice Hayes, taken from the publication of the same name.
Ardglass meaning (‘Green Height’) is a coastal fishing village and civil parish in Co. Down, It is still a important fishing harbour. The village is a commuter centre for workers in Belfast and Downpatrick. Nowadays it is very much a seaside resort.
Ardglass has always been a fishing port and developed as such because of its location on the east coast of Lecale’s natural inlet. It has one of the few harbours which is accessible by boat at all states of the tide and today has two fishing piers and a a marina and several fish processing factories.
The port is not as busy now as in its heyday 150 years ago. Today up to £4 million worth of fish passes through the harbour annually. The port specialises in herrings, prawns, and whitefish. Ardglass Marina, sometimes also known as Phennick Cove, has a capacity for 80 craft and a deep water basin open at all times. Strangford Lough lies six miles to the north. Ardglass was designated a Conservation area in 1995. The village has eight archaeological sites within the area.
Ardglass grew from a small hamlet to a modestly prosperous port and village in the 15th century. In 1838 a gentleman named William Ogilvie, who had acquired the Ardglass estate, had a harbour built. Further extensions were made to the pier and a lighthouse, however, a great storm undermined the lighthouse which fell into the sea along with the end of the pier.
In 1846 the S.S. Great Britain was run aground in Dundrum Bay in due to a navigational error, Hughes (the Harbourmaster) was involved in her salvage. Fortifications from the fifteenth century still survive in the town, including Jordan’s Castle, a most imposing of a ring of towers built around the harbour to secure the then important Anglo-Norman trading port, King’s Castle and Cowd Castle.
Strangford meaning (‘Strong Ford’) is a village at the mouth of Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland. On the North side of the lough is Portaferry. Transport NI, an executive agency of the Department for Infrastructure, operates the Portaferry to Strangford Ferry.
To travel between Strangford and Portaferry by road is approximately 55 miles. The ferry route is approximately 0.6 nautical miles with a typical crossing time of about 8 minutes.
The village has a small harbour, which is overlooked by rows of beautiful 19th century cottages and a fine Georgian terrace. Strangford was the designated home of King Magnus Olafson. Upon his attempted siege of Uladh (ulster) he set up his fort in Strangford. This was an ideal place to base his army as he had good fortified grounds with quick access to an inland lough that leads directly east onto the Irish Sea.
Killyleagh meaning (church of the descendants of Lough) is a small village and civil parish in County Down. It is on the A22 road from Downpatrick, on the western side of Strangford Lough. Best known for its twelfth century Killyleagh Castle. Killyleagh lies within the Newry, Mourne and Down district. It had a population of 2,483 people in the 2001 Census.
The village has a singular floating marina designed for small to medium Leasure craft. Killyleagh Castle is a private family home, and claims to be the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. It has been the home of the Hamilton family since the 17th century Plantation of Ulster.
Whiterock is a small village in County Down. It is within the townland of Killinakin, in the civil parish of Killinchy and historic barony of Dufferin, on the western shore of Strangford Lough, close by to the village of Killinchy. It is in the Ards and North Down Borough. It had a population of 355 people in the 2011 Census.
Whiterock is home to two yacht clubs ‘Strangford Lough Yacht Club’ and 1.5 km to the north, ‘Down Cruising Club’. The latter is based in a moored former lightship, the Petrel, acquired in 1967. The lightship had been built by the Dublin Dockyard Company in 1915 for the Commissioners of Irish Lights and since registered as a National Historic Ship UK.
Strangford Lough Yacht Club’ has programmes for all ages with Youth sailing in S
LYC has been a very strong part of the club for many years. To safety courses in Dinghy Racing.
Nullagh Quay is used during the summer months when boat trips arrive from Strangford and Portaferry. It used to be part of the Delamont Estate. Leisure and fishing craft use the quay which is accessible at most states of the tide. Access to the quay is via the A22, a few miles south of Killyleagh.
Quoile Yacht Club Castle Island
The Quoile Yacht Club is located at the mouth of the Quoile river in Strangford Lough on the shores of Castle Island. The Club has some of the best facilities in Strangford Lough with some of the most sheltered moorings. The floating jetty is available for loading and offloading both supplies and crew. The Quoile is a busy Club which maintains it’s friendly atmosphere.
QYC is a recognised RYA training centre and holds a RYA Racing Charter. The club is a RYA Volvo Youth Sailing Champion Club and holds a Foundation award for Sailability.
QYC are supporters of the RNLI Lifeboat charity.
East Down Yacht Club
East Down Yacht Club has excellent facilities for both racing and cruising. Located on the western shores of Strangford Lough, Co Down, N.Ireland. The Club is situated on a 9-acre site, which includes a modern clubhouse, a boat-park, car parking, caravan and camping park, pontoons and slipways. Support services and amenities are available in nearby Killyleagh, just one mile from the Club. It has barbecue and picnic areas provided. It also has a function room and well stocked bar with a relaxed comfortable atmosphere.
Yacht Racing, in the form of Points Series, is on Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings during the sailing season (May to September).
This is one of the few remaining quays in Strangford Lough that is still in regular use.
Ringhaddy Quay was built in the early part of the 19th century, and is one of the fine examples of a medium-sized quay in Strangford Lough. However, it is in private ownership and access is restricted. Ringhaddy Cruising Club (RCC) is situated on the western shore of Strangford Lough, an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Club which was founded in 1975 is located to the west of Islandmore in Ringhaddy Sound, between the towns of Killyleagh and Killinchy.
Strangford Lough boasts some of the finest sailing waters in the county. Visitors to RCC are welcome to use the water supply on the pontoons. Ringhaddy Sound provides a naturally, deep-water anchorage that is well sheltered by the many islands in the Lough. Not surprisingly, the original Gaelic name of the lough, Lough Cuan, means ‘sheltered haven’. Upon entering the Lough, or approaching from the north, visitors should take care when approaching Ringhaddy Sound due to the numerous boulder pladdies throughout the Lough. They are shallow shoals around many of the bays and islands, some of which uncover at low tide while many remain submerged.
The quay at Ballydorn was formerly used for coal imports, but its current usage is restricted to leisure purposes, with the adjacent lightship acting as the headquarters for the Down Cruising Club.
Newtownards Sailing Club
Newtownards Sailing Club was founded in 1964, following a public meeting in the Town Hall, chaired by Stanley Woods, JP and ex Mayor of Newtownards, who became the first Vice Commodore, with the late Lady Mairi Bury as Commodore.
A site for the clubhouse was leased on the east coast of Strangford Lough about four miles south of Newtownards, and the Mount Stewart Estate, which owned the foreshore. The club started with a collection of dinghies racing on handicap, mainly Scorpions, Enterprises, Mirrors and Cadets. Regattas in those days were well attended, with on one occasion nearly 200 entrants – River class, Glen class, Flying 15s, Lightnings, Dragons – as well as the dinghies.
Coal ships used the harbour until the 1950s, requiring a deeper channel to be dredged. There is no commercial traffic nowadays, only fishing and leisure craft.
Kircubbin is a village and townland in County Down. It is on the shores of Strangford Lough, between Newtownards and Portaferry, in the Ards and North Down Borough. The village harbour contains leisure craft, yachts, and a sailing club.
The settlement was originally known as Kilcubin, which is thought to come from Irish Cill Ghobáin, meaning ‘St Goban’s church’. This later became Kirkcubbin, from the Ulster-Scots word for church, “kirk”. The village had a population of 1,153 people in 2011 Census.
Portaferry (meaning ‘landing place of the ferry’) is a small town in County Down, at the southern part of the Ards Peninsula at the entrance to Strangford Lough. The town had a population of 2,514 people in the 2011 Census.
Home to the Exploris aquarium and well known for the annual Gala Week Float Parade, it hosts its own small Marina, the Portaferry Marina. The Portaferry to Strangford Ferry service operates daily at 18-minute intervals between the villages of Portaferry & Strangford, 1/2 mile apart, conveying about 500,000 passengers per annum. Portaferry and Strangford are sited one to the north-east, the other to the south-west, of the narrow channel, seven miles long, and joins Strangford Lough to the Irish Sea. The slipways of the two villages are a little over half a mile apart by water but they are 55 miles from each other by road.
Pot fishing, mainly for prawns and crabs and shellfish farming takes place within Strangford Lough. Portaferry is home port now only to a handful of fishing vessels and a crowd of yachts. Queen’s University of Belfast have a Marine Research Laboratory on the shorefront.
The Lough is one of the world’s most important marine sites with over 2,100 marine species.
Portaferry Lifeboat is an essential lifeline for the local fishermen and yachtsmen.
In 1988 a lifeboat house was built aided by the funds raised through the Belfast Newsletter’s Lord Louis Mountbatten Appeal Fund. In 1994 a new Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat (also named ‘Blue Peter V’) replaced the Atlantic 21. The Atlantic 75 is the fastest seagoing lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet and is capable of speeds up to 34 Knots.
Portaferry is home of the Northern Ireland Aquarium called ‘Exploris’. Opened by Ards Borough Council in 1987, extended and re-opened by Prince Charles in 1994 as Exploris. It is a premier seal sanctuary and aquarium in Northern Ireland. The Portaferry area is popular with foreign and local tourists for its beauty, wildlife, history and other visitor attractions. Strangford Lough is the largest sea inlet in the British Isles.
It is Northern Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve and is renowned as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Scientific Interests. It has six National Nature Reserves within it’s the lough. With over 2000 species of marine animals in the Lough and internationally important flocks of wildfowl wading birds converge there in winter. The Lough is a centre for experimental electricity sources by marine current turbine technology development. In 2008 a twin rotor 1.2MW SeaGen was installed and successfully demonstrated this technology until its decommissioning which began in 2017.
Portavogie’s name is from Port an Bhogaigh, which means ‘harbour of the bog’. It is the the second largest fishing port after Kilkeel and its fleet of trawlers provide a fascinating sight with daily comings and goings. Portavogie’s fame comes from its catches of herring and prawns. A new pier was built at Portavogie in 1907. This pier was not a success as it had no weather protection. A new harbour was constructed in 1955 costing over £270,000. The harbour was further developed in 1975 and 1985, doubling the size and deepening its basin, providing a market area and ice making machinery.
Most evenings there is a fish auction on the quays. Three murals on the exterior of the local school celebrate much of the history of the fishing industry in the village. In 1985 Princess Anne, Mrs. Mark Phillips, visited the town to open the new harbour and was received by the local community, Princess Anne then toured the fishing boat “Willing Lad” accompanied by its skipper, James McClements. In 1999 she (now The Princess Royal) revisited the village and opened the new Community centre on the New Harbour Road.
Ballyhalbert is a relatively small village on the Ards peninsula situated at Burr Point, the most easterly point of the island of Ireland. Its name is from Ball-Thalbot or Talbotstown, after the Talbot family who occupied this area in the conquest circa 1300. The Jetty mainly dries at low tide and is now used for leisure purposes and by the occasional small fishing boat.
It is nowadays, largely residential area with a small harbour and large caravan site which was formerly a Royal Air Force (RAF) airfield. RAF Ballyhalbert) during World War II. World War II when an RAF airfield, RAF Ballyhalbert, was built. It had the important role of protecting Belfast and the eastern half of Northern Ireland.
Ballywalter meaning (‘Homestead and Walter’) is a village and civil parish in Co. Down. It lays on the east coast of the Ards Peninsula between Ballyhalbert and Donaghadee. Ballywalter formerly known as Whitkirk as far back as the 12th century, has a stately home on the outskirts of the village, named Ballywalter Park. The park holds the Northern Ireland Game Fair, which attracts nearly 40,000 people over a single weekend. Ballywalter has a population of 2,027 people in the 2011 census.
The harbour was built to service a nearby limekiln and was fairly busy as a port due to the proximity of Scotland over the North Channel. The local Council has improved the infrastructure arround the harbour and intend to install visitors buoys in the harbour. This small harbour can provide a useful place to stop and wait for the tide if crossing to the Irish Coast from Holyhead northbound. However the harbour does dry at low water.
In settled off shore winds it’s possible to anchor off the jetty head and either set off again at High Water to go further North. It is recorded that the Ballywalter lifeboat saved 154 lives between the late-1800s and its disbandment.
Millisle or Mill Isle (meaning the meadow of the mill) is a village on the Ards Peninsula in Co. Down. About 2 1/2 miles south of Donaghadee it is situated in the townlands of Ballymacruise and Ballycopeland, the civil parish of Donaghadee. It once described as “an unpretentious bucket & spade resort of fish & chip shops” plenty for all the family.
Ballycopeland windmill (where the town of Millisle derives its name)
is a late 18th century tower mill which was in use until 1916 and still in working order. The visitor centre at the millers house includes an electrically operated model of the mill with a restored corn-drying kiln. Millisle Lagoon & Beach Park has 150 metres of golden sand and a seawater lagoon providing a safe bathing area. A pier, slipways and paddling pool complement the lagoon area situated at the beach shorefront of Millisle.
Donaghadee (meaning Daoi’s church) is a small town in County Down. It lies on the northeast coast of the Ards Peninsula, 18 miles east of Belfast and about six miles south east of Bangor. It is in the civil parish of Donaghadee. It had a population of 6,869 people in the 2011 Census.
Donaghadee’s large harbour was built in 1821 to accommodate the mail ships that eventually were transferred to Larne in 1849. At that time Donaghadee was a major port that offered the only safe refuge from the hazardous reefs arround the coast. It was also the most popular route between Ireland and Scotland and is the shortest crossing at 21 miles.
The lifeboat stationed at Donaghadee harbour founded in 1910, is one of the most important on the Irish coast. RNLB’s boat ‘Sir Samuel Kelly’ (ON 885) is a famous lifeboat which once based in Donaghadee and now on show and preserved at the harbour for her gallant efforts over 50 years ago. On 31 January 1953 the lifeboat rescued 32 survivors in the Irish Sea from the sinking Larne Stranraer car ferry, MV Princess Victoria.
For many centuries Donaghadee has been a haven for ships, and the harbour has been there from as early as the 17th century.
The harbour consists of two independent piers running north westwards out to sea; parallel nearer the shore. At low tide the water in the harbour is 5m deep.
The harbour is now mainly used for recreational purposes.
At Groomsport where Marshal Schomberg landed with 10,000 Williamite soldiers in 1689, the harbour has a sandy beach on either side. There are currently ninety moorings available for pleasure craft up to a maximum size of 25 ft. in length. The Council employs a full time Harbour Master who oversees the day to day operation of the facility.
A dormitory seaside and holiday village, Groomsport was originally a small fishing village its the focus being its development of the harbour and Main Street. Groomsport has developed as a centre for water and shore-based recreation with improvements in its facilities for activities such as power boating and sailing. The local boat club ‘Cockle Island Boat Club’ has its home here in the boat house on the pier.
The village has developed beside the natural sheltered harbour, between the shore, Ballymacormick Point and the rocky Cockle Island. The harbour is said to be of Viking origin and traces of a small settlement can be traced to the 7th or 8th century. Groomsport prospered as a fishing village through the Edwardian period until the early 1900’s. Groomsport still retains the identity and character of a small harbour village with its Jetty and sheltered anchorage along with its historic street pattern.
Bangor town is located 13 miles east of Belfast on the County Down coast.
A seaside resort on the southern side of the Lough and within the Belfast Metropolitan Area. The town has a population of around 61,000. Tourism is notably important to the local economy, particularly in the summer months, with plans being made for the redevelopment of the seafront. Bangor is situated arround 10 miles from George Best Belfast City Airport.
The Council decided that the seafront needed a big investment to restore it as a worthwhile attraction for both locals and visitors alike. This involved the closure of the harbour to commercial shipping, then the opening in 1989, of a super 570 berth marina. The coastal waters, from ‘Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough’ is the responsibility of ‘The Belfast Coastguard’ who also monitor along with the inland waterways of Lough Neagh and Upper and Lower Lough Erne.
Even though coastal vessels no longer call at the harbour, it is still used commercially by trawlers landing their catches or lying over and mussel boats which may be involved in dredging in Belfast and Larne Loughs. An annual visitor to the harbour is ‘Fred Olsen’s Black Prince’, anchoring in Bangor Bay before transferring its passengers to tenders. Also ‘The Hebridean Princess’ has visited, and likewise anchoring in the bay and transferring her passengers to ‘Zodiacs’.
The ‘Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club’ is one of a few clubs on the lough that form part of the Belfast Lough Yachting Conference. Formed in as early as 1899 by an amalgamation of the ‘Ulster Sailing Club’ and the ‘Cultra Yacht Club’, and was named ‘The North of Ireland Yacht Club’, renamed again now known as ”The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club’, by His Majesty King Edward VII.
The mid 70’s saw the introduction of the Squib Class. The popularity of these boats has fluctuated over the years but, with over 40 boats, the clubs fleet is now the largest in the UK. Many Club members have cruising boats. Nowadays they keep them in their local marinas or in the Strangford Lough.
Holywood Old Pier
The Old Pier in Holywood has been out of order for many years but the slip is still used by the ‘Holywood Yacht Club’. The Club is located in Holywood, County Down, on the south shore of Belfast Lough. It was established in 1861. The clubhouse has been renovated many times, most recently in 1998.
This small club is one of only a few on the lough that form part of the Belfast Lough Yachting Conference.
Belfast Harbour Marina
Titanic Quarter is home to Northern Ireland’s largest city marina. It provides 45 berths for yachts and leisure craft beside the Odyssey and Titanic Belfast.
The marina and provides a wide range of services such as power and water. Operated by Belfast Harbour, the marina offers easy access to Belfast Lough and the Irish Sea. The Harbour has future plans to develop the facility into a fully equipped 300 berth marina.
Port of Belfast…
In the next blog 😉
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