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Guided History Tour of Groomsport

Cockle Row Cottages, Groomsport, County Down, BT19 6JR
Aerial view of Groomsport


Join us on a 90 minute walking history tour of Groomsport village which includes Viking raiders, an Irish chieftain, Scottish settlers and the Duke of Schomberg landing on his way to the Battle of the Boyne.

Learn about the voyage of the Eagle Wing which sailed from Groomsport on 9th September 1636 with 140 passengers onboard, including four Presbyterian ministers, and was the first attempt by Ulster-Scots folks to emigrate to America.

You'll also hear about the Presbyterian minister who loved building – first he built a church, then a school, followed by houses for the poor and a house for himself.

The tour also covers the landlords (originally the Maxwells of Finnebrogue, near Downpatrick) who kept changing their family name. We visit the wall which one of them built to stop villagers using the beach.

We will take in some of the  important buildings in the village including the Coast Guard's Watch House (1821) and the first lifeboat house in Belfast Lough (1858). Fishermen's cottages at Cockle Row and The Hill are visited. Grander buildings include Groomsport House (1848) and the Parish Church (1841) – which, unlike most Church of Ireland buildings, cannot be dedicated to a saint – and Groomsport Presbyterian Church (1843).

Tours run on Saturday throughout July & Aug and on the 9th & 10th Sept weather permitting   

Meeting point- Cockle Row Cottages

The tours are free and have been designed by Discover Groomsport, (a community organisation(and registered charity) which has an interest in promoting the history and the heritage of the village. The tour is based upon a series of papers which are available here




  • All areas accessible to disabled visitors

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Map & Directions

Road Directions

Groomsport is clearly signposted from the A2 between Bangor and Donaghadee. In the village, car parking is available on Main Street or in the harbour car park, just off Main Street. Cockle Row Cottages are located beside the harbour.

Public Transport Directions

Ulsterbus No. 3 has an hourly daytime service between Bangor and Donaghadee, Monday to Saturday. Limited service in evenings and on Sundays.

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