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Celebrating the Bicentenary of Donaghadee Harbour

the mayor, a man and a woman standing at bangor marina

Date: Monday 19 July 2021

Sunday 1 August 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of the iconic Donaghadee Harbour. To celebrate the occasion, Ards and North Down Borough Council will be hosting an exciting weekend of activity from 29 July - 1 August.

Donaghadee has been a shipping haven for centuries and has served as a vital communications link between Ireland and Scotland. The town’s harbour is made up of two piers built between 1821 and c.1834. This new harbour replaced an earlier construction, dating back to the 1600s, when Hugh Montgomery, the town’s founder was awarded a Royal Warrant to build a seaport and harbour and to establish a mail packet service.

Designs for the new harbour were drawn by John Rennie, the Scottish civil engineer whose previous works included Waterloo and Southwark Bridges over the Thames in London. The foundation stone was laid on 1 August 1821 with the building of the South Pier completed in 1825 and the North Pier and Lighthouse in 1834.

The celebrations to mark the bicentenary begin on Thursday 29 July. The Donaghadee Local History Research Forum will present ‘The History of the Harbour by Dr Robert Neill’, an illustrated talk providing fantastic insight into the building of the harbour and its role in the town’s development.

Friday will see the spectacular MG and Morris Minor Club Cavalcade parade through the centre to Copeland Plaza.

The fun continues on Saturday when the Donaghadee Sailing Club will host their annual regatta to coincide with the celebrations.   

The Donaghadee Local History Research Forum will present ‘A Walking Tour of Donaghadee with Dr Robert Neill’ and the Sir Samuel Kelly Lifeboat Shelter will open its doors for visitors to view the exhibition, which covers the history of this special lifeboat.

It will be a day to shop local with special offers and free gifts in participating shops. Lemon’s Wharf will play host to the mouth-watering Taste Ards and North Down Food Market along with a local variety market, showcasing wonderful local arts and crafts. Exhibitions exploring the fascinating history of Donaghadee will be open in local venues during the weekend.

A special Commemorative Service and Time Capsule Burial will take place on Sunday 1 August. Elected Members and invited guests will participate in the service led by the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks.  As part of the ceremony, the Mayor will place a bronze capping plate over the 2021 time capsule which will be buried at the entry to the pier to mark this historic occasion.

Speaking about the event, the Mayor said,

“It is a privilege and an honour to lead this Commemorative Service to mark the bicentenary of Donaghadee Harbour. I am especially proud to be part of this momentous occasion as I brought the initial Notice of Motion to Council requesting that the bicentenary be recognised by Council. It will be wonderful to celebrate the fascinating story of the harbour’s history and acknowledge the significant role it has played in the development of our sea-side town. I am thrilled that as a community we will be able to get together again to share in what promises to be a fun weekend of activity for all the family.”

For full details of the Programme, including ticket prices and booking information where applicable, read more Donaghadee Harbour Bicentenary

This event will operate with COVID-19 measures in place, in line with current government guidance.

Photo caption: Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks is pictured at Donaghadee Harbour ahead of the Bicentenary Celebrations with John Caldwell, Donaghadee Community Development Association and Heather McGuicken, Museum Manager, Ards and North Down Borough Council.