This lively port is not only home to the largest fishing fleet in Northern Ireland, but is also the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Mourne, and as such is an ideal base for exploring the beautiful MourneMountains and Carlingford Lough. Kilkeel has a long history dating back to megalithic times, with many dolmens (megalithic tombs) and raths (ancient circular dwellings) in the area. The harbour, which was first started in the 1850s, is mainly dedicated to fishing for shellfish such as prawns and scallops, but there are proposals for an expansion including the construction of a new breakwater.
In the past, Greencastle Pier at the mouth of Carlingford Lough was the scene of many a departure for the New World by local people searching for a new life. During World War II there was a US aerodrome at Greencastle, which was the venue for a wartime commemorative festival called GI Jive last year – I have been unable to find out whether the festival is running again this year.
One of Kilkeel’s most unpleasant residents over the years was William Hare, born Thomas O’Hare, one of the infamous body snatching duo known as Burke and Hare. After testifying against Burke, which led to the latter’s hanging in 1829, Hare went to live out his days in Kilkeel, acquiring a wife and child with whom he lived in Newry Street. He is said to be buried at the Burial Banks alongside the former Kilkeel Workhouse.
|Photo by Albert Bridge, via Wikimedia Commons|