Picture-postcard beauty: the beautiful village of Groomsport, just ten minutes from Bangor
Few coastal villages in Ireland can compare with Groomsport for scenic charm, tranquil beauty and historical heritage. Groomsport is best known for its picturesque harbour that was once a major fishing port and its two fishermens cottages known as Cockle Row.
Before (neighbouring town) Donaghadee became the main port for embarkation for Scotland, Groomsport’s harbour was in fact significant enough to have its own Customs House. Indeed, Groomsport narrowly missed out on New World fame when the ship Eagle Wing set out from the port, with 140 men, women and children, to attempt an early trip to North America in 1636 only to be defeated by bad weather after eight weeks at sea.
Groomsport has developed as a centre for water and shore-based recreation with improved facilities for activities such as sailing and power boating. The Cockle Island Boat Club has its home in the boat house on the pier.
The main attraction for visitors in Groomsport is Cockle Row, the old fishermen's thatched cottages that were officially opened in May 1997 after four months of complete refurbishment. The cottages have not lost their original charm with the heritage cottage depicting what Cockle Row would have been like around 1910. A lot of time and effort went into sourcing interior fittings and an exhibition of old photographs of Groomsport provides visitors with a time to reminisce. The second cottage is now a Visitor Information Centre (that opens seasonally) and provides tourists and locals alike with information of places to visit, accommodation and events in Northern Ireland. The cottage also sells a selection of crafts and souvenirs.
These lovingly restored fisherman’s cottages host free themed entertainment from Easter Sunday to the first Sunday in September. Look out for the 2018 programme which will be available to download here early next year.
The village also boasts beautifully landscaped picnic and play areas around the harbour, sandy beaches, quality pubs and restaurants. It also has a recreation ground with two football pitches and a village hall situated in the historic boathouse at the harbour that dates back to 1884. A bus service links the village with Bangor, which is only a few miles away.