Sunday, November 2, 2014

Portaferry Castle, Co. Down

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Having finally concluded my accounts of the Chapple Family’s jaunts about the countryside in 2013 (here | here | here), I thought it was time to relate some of our more recent adventures. In May of this year we drove down to the small town of Strangford, Co. Down, to take the short ferry crossing to Portaferry. This is a relatively frequent excursion for us, as the Chapples Minors are both big fans of the Exploris Aquarium in the town [Website | Facebook]. On this particular day we were in town to experience the Strangford Lough Maritime Festival. In particular, we were keen to see inside the Queen's University Marine Laboratory. We got a fantastic tour about their facility and gained some really interesting insights into their ongoing research work – in both biology and engineering – from their fantastically enthusiastic (and patient) staff and students. If you ever get the chance to visit there, do not squander the opportunity … if only to see their amazing indoor wave tank! In amongst all the things to see in Portaferry, it’s easy to overlook Portaferry Castle.

Portaferry Castle, from the south-west
The castle is in State Care and is a relatively small tower house of 16th century date. It was built by a member of the Savage family, probably William Le Savage. The castle was reroofed and repaired in 1635 by Sir James Montgomery of Rosemount (Greyabbey) for the benefit of his sister, married to Patrick Savage. The building is square in plan, with a projecting turret on the southern corner. The entrance is protected by a machicolation above, with a ‘murder hole’ in the ceiling of the entrance chamber, for added protection (via Wikipedia). These days, the ivy and weed strewn battlements make excellent perches for gulls looking stoically out to sea, while the simple ruins can still hold the fascination of children and adults, imagining imminent attack by land and sea.

Ground floor entrance

Vertical panorama of the interior

View from the north-east, near the entrance to the Exploris Aquarium
I hope you enjoy these few simple images, but I also hope that this (and other posts here) inspire you to get up and get out and come see some of our ancient treasures!

For those who care for such things, I’ve added a selection of 3D images of Portaferry Castle here and where to find your viewing glasses (and an index to 3D stuff on the blog) here. Enjoy!

See also:
The Northern Ireland Sites & Monuments Record for Portaferry Castle.

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