The place of the gloomy servant

Groomsport is a picturesque village situated within the Ards and North Down Borough Council area, approximately 4 miles from Bangor town centre. The area around the village is steeped in history. It is located at the mouth of Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland.

In pre-historic times, the rich fertile land with fresh water wells, sheltered coves for fishing and forests in which to hunt, made the area around Groomsport an ideal place to live. Stone Age axe and arrow heads found nearby have been dated as older than 4000BP.  Three swords, found locally in 1949,  indicate a settlement at around 2500BP.

The origin of the name “Groomsport” is obscure but it could come from the ancient Irish – ‘Dart-a-gheolla Ghruma’ or perhaps Graham’s Port, or of Scandinavian origin and written as Grimsport. This latter suggestion is in keeping with traditional beliefs that the Vikings first built the pier in Groomsport. Large boulders found at its base date back over 1000 years.

In 1603, James Hamilton was given land (and a knighthood), in what is now North Down by King James, as a reward for his faithful service. Part of this large estate was occupied by the followers of the O’Neill’s – a Gaelic family called O’Mulcrevey. In his will dated December 1616, Sir James Hamilton wrote ‘Owen O’Mulcrevey this towne is requisite for sea faring men and fishers at Gilgroome’s Port, and may be let at very good rate…’ The name Groomsport means ‘the place of the gloomy servant.’

The Eagle Wing

In 1636 a ship called ‘The Eagle Wing’ set sail from Groomsport with 140 passengers and four ministers,  for a new life in America. Unfortunately it was forced to turn back to Belfast Lough without ever reaching New England!

It is claimed that the Duke of Schomberg, Commander in Chief of King William III’s Advance party of 10,000 soldiers,  used Groomsport as a landing point on 13th August, 1689.

By the harbour, we have a traditional fisherman’s thatched cottage, now used as a museum and tourist information centre. During the summer months, at weekends, many entertainment events are held here.

Today, Groomsport consists of 700 households (a mix of social and private housing) with a population of approximately 3,000 people. The recent development of “Cove Bay”, situated off the Donaghadee carriageway, has brought some new young families to the village. Local businesses, such as a coffee shop, public house, restaurant, hairdressers, off – license, health clinic, Spar convenience store and three churches cheerfully service the villagers’ needs .