new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white
Portaferry Castle | by Irishphotographer
Back to group

Portaferry Castle

Our New Irish Calender now available at


Portaferry Castle located on the banks of Strangford Lough in Co Down Northern Ireland


Portaferry (from the Irish: Port an Pheire meaning "landing place of the ferry") is a large village in County Down, Northern Ireland, at the southern end of the Ards Peninsula, near the Narrows at the entrance to Strangford Lough. It had a population of 2,467 people in the 2001 Census. It has an aquarium and is well-known for the annual Galway Hookers Regatta. It hosts its own small Marina, the Portaferry Marina. A passenger/car ferry service operates daily at 15 minute intervals (8am to 11pm) between the villages of Portaferry and Strangford, less than a mile apart, conveying about 500,000 passengers per annum.


Commercial fishing for clams and king prawns and the farming of oysters and mussels takes place within the confines of Strangford Lough. This is supplemented by the presence in Portaferry of the Marine Laboratory of the Queen's University of Belfast. There are fine Georgian buildings in the town square, including a Market House, now used as a community centre.


Portaferry Lifeboat is an essential lifeline for local fishermen and yachtsmen. In 1987 a lifeboat house was built aided by monies 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 sea going lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet and is capable of speeds up to 34 Knots.)

* Portaferry is the home of the Northern Ireland Aquarium - Exploris. It was opened by Ards Borough Council in 1987 and extended and re-opened by Prince Charles in 1994 as Exploris. It is Northern Ireland’s premier marine life centre and aquarium, featuring walk-through tanks which house examples of Strangford Lough’s marine inhabitants.

* Roads Service (Department for Regional Development) operates a car ferry service across Strangford Lough between the villages of Strangford and Portaferry. To travel the distance between Strangford and Portaferry by road is approximately 75 kilometres and takes about an hour and a half by car. By contrast, the ferry route is approximately 0.6 nautical miles (1.1 km) with a typical crossing time of about 8 minutes.

* Portaferry Castle is a small 16th century Tower house built by William Le Savage. It is a square building with a small projecting turret at the south corner. It is three storeys high plus attic. There is no vault. Most of the eastern corner is ruinous.


23 faves
Taken on July 1, 2008