The Kilkeel Prawn Festival 1963

The Kilkeel Prawn Festival 1963

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Production 28/07/1963







black and white


Funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland under the Archiving Scheme 2


Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Department for Communities, ITV, UTV Archive

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It’s time for the Prawn Festival in Kilkeel. Following all the preparations, the Prawn King is ready to meet his guest, King Neptune and present him with the fruits of the Mournes. 


Kilkeel is a fishing port at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in Co Down. Kilkeel harbour is a relatively new harbour, with harbours at Annalong and at Derryogue (now gone) preceding it in importance. The harbour was first started in the 1850s and a pier was built in 1868, with further improvements in 1872. The harbour could only accommodate 24 boats in the 1880’s. In 1885 the South Pier was constructed, followed in 1886 by the Old Dock.In 1916 it was extended to form the inner basin. There was further expansion in 1955 and the improvements continue to this day, with the installation of floating pontoons to accommodate small boats, and a few new slipways completed in 2008. Originally herring was the catch, and then whitefish, like cod and haddock. In the 1950s they first started fishing for prawns or “creepy crawlies” as they were known locally. Now prawns are the major catch, with an increase in catching crabs and lobsters. In recent years aquaculture is on the increase with the growing and harvesting of oysters and mussels in Carlingford Lough. In the early days schooners traded with Liverpool, Scotland , Cornwall and Kinsale, trading goods such as potatoes, grain, granite and importing coal, etc. Kilkeel also was home for local boat builders and cooperages, as well as all the related trades needed to maintain boats. 


An Ulster Television Production.



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