23 Nov Bangor, County Down
It takes its name from its curving bay set between a pair of symmetrical headlands (beanna chor, “curved peaks”) , and its sheltered position made it ideal for exploitation as a holiday resort. Have a look on any tours of Ireland or on our extended Belfast tours. Its ideal for a quick visit from a cruise ship docking in Belfast.
The town had been hugely popular with Belfast people since the railway came in the 1860s , but today it’s as much a suburb of Belfast as a holiday spot. There are some very good local restaurants.
It still possesses a charm , stuck in a 1960s time warp with all the appropriate bucket-and-spade paraphernalia – giant swan boats to paddle around a mini-lake in the fun park , a miniature railway and amusement arcades.
There’s also a 500-berth marina , which make Bangor a good place for stocking up on provisions or exploring the coast , while for the land-based the town is well equipped as a stop-off point for dinner and a stroll along the promenade.
Bangor’s period of greatest historical significance was almost entirely associated with its abbey , which was founded by St Comgall in 586 AD , and from which missionaries set forth to convert pagan Europe. Though the abbey remained powerful for eight hundred years , there’s not a trace of the building left. The only vestige of its fame is the Antiphonarium Benchorense , one of the oldest-known ecclesiastical manuscripts , consisting of collects , anthems and some religious poems ; the original now lies in Ambrosian Library in Milan.
Other displays trace the rise of the Ward family , who were largely responsible for the town’s development and built Bangor Castle (now the town hall).
There’s also a fascinating collection of Eastern objets d’art collected by a local born diplomat , Sir John Jordan.