Fishermen Cottages and Coastguard Cottages
Fishing families still live in some of the fishermen cottages opposite Cook St Pier. People from the shore were known as “gilpins”. The name is said to come from the practice of throwing nets to catch “gilpin” fish - a practice which helped sustain the whole community when times were hard. Prawns and crabs are amongst the shellfish still landed here.
Further along the shore is a row of former Coastguard cottages with a low look-out tower at one end (modernised in 2005). They were built around 1850, along with the boathouse, to the design of the Board of Works for Ireland.
A strong coastguard presence was put in place in the 1800s because various Acts restricting exports from Irish ports had been imposed by the English government. This led to a great deal of smuggling which flourished in Strangford Lough.
“The Bay of Strangford is well adapted to smuggling and the excellence of the situation is not lost on the smuggler” Duke of Rutland, 1787.
Imports of sugar, rum, whiskey, cloths and coal were arriving from Dublin, Whitehaven, Liverpool and America and exports of corn, herrings, cattle, potatoes and kelp were leaving.