Donaghadee is a town in County Down situated on the east coast, about 18 miles from Belfast. It lies on the Ards Peninsula about five miles south east of Bangor.
Donaghadee is probably best known for its lighthouse and harbour, there’s been a harbour at Donaghadee (or the ‘Dee) since at least the 17th century. Construction of the current harbour began in 1821, initially under John Rennie and completed by his son, also known as John Rennie. The harbour was designed to be deep enough for ships plying the 20-mile crossing of the Irish Sea to Portpatrick in south-west Scotland.
The harbour is constructed from limestone from the Moelfre quaries of Angelsey in north Wales, though the outer walls are the local grawacke blasted from a nearby quarry (where Copeland’s Marina is now). The Moat in Donaghadee was built to house the explosives for this blasting. The harbour is made up of two independent piers and these days is used mostly by pleasure craft. It is also home to Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Station.
Grace Neills, in the centre of Donaghadee, is according to the Guinness Book of Records, Ireland’s oldest public house opened in 1611 as the ‘King’s Arms’.
The town has grown considerably in recent years with much residential development being a dormitory town of the greater Belfast area. Well served by good pubs and restaurants, there is also regeneration of the retail trade with craft shops, art galleries and antique shops becoming more numerous in addition to traditional businesses.
A recently created play area at the harbour replacing the old paddling pools has become a huge hit with young and old alike.
Sport is well catered for with an 18 hole golf course, rugby club, tennis club, bowling club and sailing club to name a few.