A small town well known for its fishing, seafront, Triathlon and annual Gala Week Float Parade...
Right at the tip of the Ards Peninsula is Portaferry, a small town well known for its fishing, seafront, Triathlon and the annual Gala Week Float Parade. Portaferry is full of character!
The town hosts its own small Marina, and there is a strong fishing tradition in the town and surrounding area. The commercial fishing of clams, prawns and in addition, the farming of Strangford lough oysters and mussels makes this a big local industry.
The town has a Ferry (Portaferry-Strangford Ferry) that operates daily between the villages of Portaferry and Strangford. The Anglo Norman Savage family, established the original ferry in 1188, making it the longest existing ferry service in the world. The powerful current which rushes through The Narrows carries 400 million gallons of water with every tide. It is little wonder the Vikings named the Lough the ‘Strong Fiord’.
Portaferry Castle is a 16th century tower-house that was also built by the Savage family. It is prominently located on the slope overlooking Portaferry harbour within sight of Strangford and Audley's Castles across the water.
An active boating scene attracts many visitors to the town, especially during July when the annual sailing regatta takes place.
Another major tourist attraction in Portaferry is Exploris aquarium. The aquarium gives a fascinating insight into the sea life and habitat of the lough shore. Exploris also operates the NIE Seal Sanctuary, where seals are brought into Exploris for rehabilitation. The seals are then released back into the wild when they make a full recovery.
Portaferry is home to Portico, a recently restored grade A listed building modelled on the Greek Temple of Nemesis. Portico is a multi-purpose venue that hosts cultural, educational and heritage events and exhibitions. It also houses a permanent exhibition about the area’s fascinating archaeological heritage of Neolithic settlements, Norman forts and industrial architecture. This permanent exhibition includes a timeline marking local connections with every period in history starting with the Ice Ages and the formation of Strangford Lough.
All in all, Portaferry hosts a compelling blend of natural history, recreation and scenery.