Walking tour of Portaferry

Duration: 1.5 Hours

Starting Point: Outside the Portaferry Hotel, 10 The Strand, Portaferry BT22 1PE

Level Of Difficulty: Easy

Once an important shipbuilding centre, Portaferry is now a picturesque tourist destination.

On this walk, explore the economic and social history of the town and visit local buildings of architectural interest, for example, the Portico. Learn about Portaferry’s industrial heritage and hear stories about local people of note, for example, Rev. William Steel Dickson

From Windmill Hill enjoy wonderful views over the town to Strangford Lough and beyond. Read More

  • Portaferry dates from the 12th Century when a row of fishermen’s cottages were built beside the Anglo-Norman castle. The ferry across to Strangford has operated continuously since 1190.


  • By the 17th century, Portaferry had become a thriving coastal town with shipyards and quays. Cargoes of wheat and barley were exported from here to Liverpool, Lisbon and Dublin.


  • In the 1860s prosperity in Portaferry had reached an all-time high. The scale of surviving local buildings reflect the wealth of the town’s merchants and shipbuilders. Most of these buildings are vernacular i.e. have retained their original character and features.


  • The earliest surviving public building, Portaferry Market House built in 1752 came under  attack by the United Irishmen in June 1798.


  • Portaferry was home to one of the first Presbyterian congregations in Ireland. The first church was founded in 1642 and rebuilt in 1751 as a plain T -shaped barn. The Portico, in the style of a Greek temple followed in 1841 as the new Presbyterian Church. Today the Portico is a cultural centre and is still used for church services.


  • Templecranny Graveyard in Portaferry is an ancient Christian site. Bishop Robert Echlin was buried in here in 1635. Over the years, many leading locals have also been interred there.


  • Exploris aquarium and seal sanctuary in Portaferry is a unique visitor attraction in Northern Ireland. Following the recent investment of almost £2m in the facility there are new experiences for visitors. For example, there is a seal sanctuary where a seal rehabilitation programme operates and seals are reintroduced to the wild.

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