Once Upon A Place: Portaferry

Once Upon A Place: Portaferry

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Transmission 29/06/1992


25min 06sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Once Upon a Place takes a closer look at Portaferry, a small town in County Down, at the Southern end of the Ards Peninsula. 

With views of the local landscape and busy sea life surrounding the town, George Holmes, a fisherman, introduces, the at time, treatous waters while pointing out 'Saint Patricks rocks'. The story goes that St Patrick almost ran aground on them, however he calmly "split them with a wave of his wand and the boat sailed between", George jokingly states that they did not have "such a facility today, and so gave them a wide birth". 
This, connection between the sea and Portaferry is found everywhere. Paddy Barry, explains how there was plenty of work right up into the 1960's for the sailors as they carried turf out to the Arran Islands, however, eventually, as electricity and bottled gas was added to the island, this work started to dry up. 

The big event of the season, is the yachting regattas, where boat lovers gather for a weekend of music, sailing - and what is heavily emphasised - drinking! John McAlea, a frequent competitor in the local tradition states that even before the race, people gather for "a few gargles, and a bit of craic" before heading out to sea the next day. Views of the Yacht club later that evening shows lively music and plenty of singing, with one local in jest, stating that "somehow that goes together, music, and drink and the ol' black fluid"

Also found in the programme are views of Portaferry castle with the graveyard and its history explained, along with a discussion on the abundant wildlife in the area and a story about a boat called 'Tornamona' that went down whilst ferrying Joey Dunlop over to the Isle of Man TT Races.


A UTV Production.  

Producer: Janthia Duncan

Camera: David Scott

Sound: Jim McGirr and Rai Woods

Editor: Jim McGurk

Executive Producer: Andrew Crockart

Production Assistants: Maureen Dickson and Felicity Pierce

Graphic Design: Brian Owens and Philip Owens

Stills Photographer: Alan Mackey

On-line Editor: Phillip White

Post Production Sound: Colin Somerville

Acknowledgements to: Ards borough council, Central Library (Belfast), Historic monuments and buildings branch (Department of the environment), Local Studies (Ballynahinch Library), Linenhall Library (Belfast), Marine Biology Centre, (Queens Univeristy, Belfast), National Trust, Northern Ireland Aquarium, Portaferry Library, Portaferry Sailing Club, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, St Patricks Heritage Centre (Downpatrick), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and Upper Ards Historical Society 




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