Killyleagh

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Killyleagh is a small town on the south west shore of Strangford Lough. It’s Irish name is Cill Ó Laoch, meaning “church of the descendants of Laoch.

The top of the main street is dominated by a castle which, with it’s fairytale towers, looks as if it’s been transplanted from the Loire Valley. It’s believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country, with parts dating back to 1180. It only acquired its current look in the 1850s when the turrets were added. I got a decent shot of the gatehouse and curtain wall, but the keep was undergoing renovation

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So here’s a picture from Wikipedia.

By David Hawgood, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14339108

It is a private family home owned and occupied by the Hamilton family since the 17th century Plantation of Ulster. You can peek through the gate but can’t go inside, which is fair enough.

We were staying in the Dufferin Coaching Inn, at the top of the main street near the castle. An interesting place, it had originally been the local branch of the Ulster Bank and those premises had been combined with an adjoining shop to create the B&B..

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We had a spacious, comfortable, well equipped room on the front. There was a whirlpool bath and bath robes and slippers provided.

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The Coaching Inn didn’t serve evening meals so the first night we had a walk into the town to check out a restaurant recommended by our host. A short walk took us to the shores of the Lough. We were pleasantly surprised by the fantastic views over the water

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There isn’t a lot of choice of places to eat in the town so we decided to try our luck at the Smuggler’s table.

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It didn’t look that fancy from the outside

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But the food was outstanding and extremely good value.

I had Strangford Lough mussels in a spicy sauce to start

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A light version of fish pie which was more like a creamy fish stew

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finishing off with a coffee and a mango panacotta

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Highly recommended.

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After the meal we had a short walk along the shore before turning in.

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The next morning we decided to take a look around the town. Originally it would have been a small fishing and agricultural centre with a small harbour. It grew and developed when a linen mill opened in the town in 1852.

There were a lot of older houses around the town, mainly Georgian in style and many of them had been renovated or were in the process of being renovated, frequently painted in bright colours.

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This is a row of linen workers’ cottages on the road leading to the old mill.

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There had been some new development on the harbour, but the buildings had been designed to complement their surroundings.

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There’s a yacht club based on the lough here too.

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The sea front is owned by the National Trust which will hopefully ensure that inappropriate development doesn’t take place. The town is something of a hidden gem and deserves to be better known.

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