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Historical Ulster: Ardglass

By Paul Carson

Published 01/02/2010

The crew of the Oriole, one of the Ardglass fishing boats, working on a heavy cargo of Whiting after yesterday's catches, the first since the port was closed last week. 9/2/1954
The crew of the Oriole, one of the Ardglass fishing boats, working on a heavy cargo of Whiting after yesterday's catches, the first since the port was closed last week. 9/2/1954
Hooked...young Ian Thompson is out on a sort of busman's holiday for here he is fishing at Ardglass when he could just as easily have fished in Bangor. However, the journey seems to have been worth while and variety is, of course, the spice of life. 11/4/1978
Eleven-year-old Jennifer McBride, of Rugby Avenue, Belfast, with her dog Skip, looks out to sea from St John's Point lighthouse on the Co.Down coast, near Ardglass. 9/8/1982
Trevor Larmour, from Lisburn, makes sure this one doesn't get away. It may only be what the locals call a blocken but the catch brought delight to these fishermen at Ardglass. 31/7/1972
Children helping fishermen to unload cargo at the quayside at Ardglass to-day. 11/6/1966
Visitors to Ardglass look out through the east window of the ancient church of Ardtole on a glorious vista of the Down countryside, bathed in sunshine. 31/7/1959
Part of the consignment of crated fish from Ardglass which has been declared "black" by the Seamen's Union, lies on the quayside. 11/6/1966
Barrels of fish being made ready for shipping in Ardglass. 19/8/1953
The sleepy Co.Down harbour village of Ardglass. 28/7/1948
Ardglass harbour has its own traffic jam as boats wait to unload a record catch of fish. 7/8/1974
A skipper strolls along Ardglass harbour checking the boats. 28/8/1937
Mr Alexander Magee, fishmonger, of Ardglass. Back in 1947, some Gibraltarian evacuees from Downpatrick stood in his shop, eying the squid brought in as a novelty off a boat, and raved about the gastronomic delights of them. Alec was intrigued, 'hooked' even, and so his trade blossomed. 24/11/1971

One hundred years ago it would have been a familiar scene: dozens of 'gutters' handling the herring catch on the harbour at Ardglass.

>>To Launch Gallery Click More Pictures>>

The sheltered deep-sea inlet of Ardglass grew into a fishing port to the point where some four or five hundred sail powered craft habitually crowded into the harbour (many from as far away as the east coast of Scotland) fishing during the summer months for herring - the 'silver darlings' of the Irish Sea - and in the winter for whiting and cod.

Today the picture is a very different one. The 'gutters' have gone; no longer do hundreds of herring barrels stand along the quayside. State-of-the-art trawlers ply in and out of the well modernised harbour.

The leviathains of the deep go to sea with all mod-cons. Over the years herring festivals have been a major feature in the port of Ardglass which claims to have had the first singing pub in Northern Ireland, the first piano breaking contest and the first trawler race.

Our images hopefully reflect a slice of this daily lifestyle of the harbour village in the past decades.

Belfast Telegraph

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