Cloughey Village & Kirkistown Castle

Duration: 1.5 Hours

Starting Point: Carpark on Main Road Cloughey (in front of the tennis courts, northern end of the village.)

Level Of Difficulty: Easy

In the past, Cloughey Bay was the scene of many fascinating stories of shipwrecks and courageous rescue efforts.

In the course of this walk, find out all about its amazing maritime history as you stroll along the beautiful multi award winning beach.

Piece together the story of Cloughey Village over time through interesting historical documents.

End your trip at Kirkistown Castle – a particularly fine example of the tower houses which are dotted all along the coast of Co. Down. Read More

  • Cloughey from the Irish ‘ Clochaigh’ meaning ‘stony place’. The settlement started of as a small fishing village. The fishermens cottages are located at the southern end of the village on Manse road.


  • During the 17th century Scottish settlers began to come into the area and to this day many local people speak in the lowland Scottish dialect of their ancestors.


  • The earliest written record of a village school dates from 1828. This building was partly washed away in a severe storm in the 1940s. There are other examples of the retreat of the coastline due to coastal erosion. In recent years an Ards Peninsula coastal erosion group has been formed to look at the issues arising from climate change such as damage to coastal roads.


  • The present day village is a ribbon development along the coastline. In the interwar period, people from Belfast came to Cloughey for their summer holidays and bungalows were built for renting to these families.


  • The Standing Stone which overlooks Cloughey beach is a memorial to the lifeboat men who served with the lifeboat station in Cloughey. There are many stories of dramatic and tragic events at sea and of the heroism of those who went to the rescue of those whose lives ere endangered.


  • The Warren located centrally on the coastline is an ASSI, a very important site for wildlife, wildflowers, butterflies and moths. The area still has an active rabbit warren, probably established in Norman times to supply food and fur to nearby Kirkistown Castle. The rabbits are important ecologically as they keep the land open for wildflowers to flourish e.g. Bird’s Trefoil, Lady’s Bedstraw, Bluebell. The carpet of wildflowers is delightful as it changes colour with the seasons.


  • Kirkistown Castle itself was built by Roland Savage in 1622. It is a fine example of a tower house. Tower houses were viewed as residences of prestige in the landscape while at the same time maintaining some defensive features against localised attack. The Castle and bawn were sold to the state in 1968 and the adjacent house has recently been purchased by the Department for Communities.


  • Kirkistown Castle Links Golf course was enlarged from nine holes to 18 holes in 1927 and redesigned in 1929, making it one of the best courses in Ireland.

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