By Surging Sea and Quiet Lough, A Conference Exploring the Maritime Heritage of Ards and North Down

Maritime Heritage Conference

North Down Museum is hosting a one-day conference on Friday 17 February at Bangor Castle, highlighting the rich maritime traditions within the Borough of Ards and North Down.

Ards and North Down’s 115 mile coastline is one of the longest in Northern Ireland, with Belfast Lough to the north, the Irish Sea to the east, and Strangford Lough with its many islands forming the internal coastline of the Ards Peninsula. The area has been inhabited for at least 7,000 years and even today a significant proportion of the Borough’s population live in 17 coastal settlements. The coast as a resource allowed industries such as fishing, trading, and boat-building to flourish as well leisure sailing and even smuggling; the aim of the conference is to highlight these activities and showcase the valuable work carried out by local researchers and heritage interest groups.

The Ards and North Down Heritage Cluster, which has prompted the conference, is an informal gathering of heritage interest groups across the Borough, set up in June 2022. The Cluster meets quarterly to discuss heritage issues and potential partnership projects; and to network and share research ideas and identify training needs.

Speaking about the Maritime Conference, The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas said:

“As our Borough has such an exceptionally long coastline, our maritime history is both rich and fascinating. I am delighted to see North Down Museum and the Ards and North Down Heritage Cluster working together to host this conference. I would encourage anyone with an interest in our Borough’s maritime heritage to come along for what’s sure to be an interesting and insightful event.”

Local historian, Robin Masefield, one of the conference organisers commented:

“We are very grateful to North Down Museum and the Council for hosting this conference. There is a growing interest in our unique maritime heritage, and the conference will be a great opportunity to share research and discuss how it can be best taken forward in partnership between local government and the community.”

The conference takes place in Bangor Castle on Friday 17 February, 9am – 5.30pm. Tickets cost £10 (including refreshments), spaces are limited so early booking is advisable.

For more information and to book a space, visit:

Photo Caption:

Pictured are The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas with Historian and one of the Maritime Heritage Conference organisers Robin Masefield. Robin is holding a ship’s compass made by Sharman D. Neill, clockmaker of Belfast and resident of Holywood, believed to be the compass of the merchant schooner Result, made in Carrickfergus in 1893.

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