Ardglass sits thirty miles south of Belfast along the Irish Sea. This historic port city was destroyed in the 1641 rebellion.
The fishing port is nearly 2000 years old, and was used by the Celts before they turned to trade and farming for sustenance. In the past, sailboats harboured here during seasons of plentiful catches of herring, whiting and cod. The sails began to be replaced by steam engines around the turn of the last century. The harvesting and processing of fish and shellfish still represents a major portion of the area’s economy.
The recorded history of Ardglass begins in 1172 with Anglo Norman invasions. Ardglass Harbor was always strategically important, and became an economically important Ulster port during the 15th century, when a London Trading Company set up operations there.
During this period, a cluster of castles was built, connected by a fortified wall, to protect the harbor area from attacks. Tower houses defended the town while fortified warehouses protected trade goods. Ardglass Castle was also erected, and later owned by the Fitzgeralds. These days, it houses Ardglass Golf Club.
Of the ring of fortifications erected around Ardglass, only Jordan’s Castle remains. The castle’s owner, Simon Jordan, survived a three year siege by O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, until he was finally rescued by sea in 1601.
Francis Biggar purchased the vacant, roofless and dilapidated castle in 1911. He restored it and left it as a gift to the nation when he died in 1926.
The Ardglass castles, some of which are now mere ruins, are linked by a path that can be accessed at Castle Place. They are – Margaret’s Castle, a tower erected in the late 15th century, the remnants of Cowd Castle, the renovated Ardglass Castle, Horn Castle, and Isabella’s Tower, which was formerly used as a Coast Guard station. The fortified structures were once linked by a wall and acted as a combined defense system for