Ards Peninsula



Greyabbey is a popular destination for treasure-hunters who come from far and wide to explore the numerous little antique shops in the village, and it is the occasional location for BBC antique programmes, period dramas and films.
The village is home to the Montgomery family, one of the original Ulster-Scot planters of 1606. The Montgomery family still lives in Grey Abbey House, and you can see the entrance to the estate at the rear of the carpark beside the little primary school.
Don't forget to visit the Grey Abbey - it's not just a pile of ruins, it is perhaps one of the most important eccessiatical sites in Ireland.
Greyabbey enjoys a good choice of restaurants; and the Grey Abbey remains are an excellent and interesting location for picnicking.
There is a carpark at the Grey Abbey, another beside the primary school, and a third carpark just past Orange Tree House as you leave the village by the coast.


Places worth visiting nearby

Grey Abbey - Along with Inch Abbey, Greyabbey is the best example of Anglo-Norman Cistercian architecture in Ulster and was the daughter house of Holm Cultram (Cumbria). It was founded in 1193 by Affreca, wife of John de Courcy, the Anglo-Norman invader of East Ulster. Poor and decayed in the late Middle Ages, the abbey was dissolved in 1541 but in the early 17th century was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery and the nave was refurbished for parish worship until the late 18th century. The remains, in the beautiful parkland setting of the nearby grand house of Grey Abbey House, consist of the church with cloister and surrounding buildings to the south. There is a small visitor centre with displays at the entrance and a reconstructed medieval physic (herb) garden.
visit the Grey Abbey website

Grey Abbey House - Grey Abbey House specialises in hosting historical, architectural and horticultural groups and can provide lunch, tea and dinner by arrangement. Overlooking Strangford Lough, Grey Abbey House and its gardens benefit from a temperate climate which supports a plethora of unusual flora and fauna. The Estate also owns three islands on the Lough which are leased to The National Trust. The ruins of a Cistercian Abbey lie adjacent to the estate's grounds. Church Hill, to the south of the Abbey, is believed to be one of the first landscaped parks in Ireland.
visit the Grey Abbey House website

Greyabbey Graveyard - This is just outside the abbey grounds. It is densely packed with headstones and contains a large number of eighteenth century stones.

Harrison's of Greyabbey - Enjoy panoramic views of Strangford Lough at this popular destination for day-trippers. Located just 1.5 miles south of Greyabbey on the road south towards Kircubbin.
As you approach Harrison's you can't miss the old windmill stump that sits on the hill nearby - legend has it that this is the mill where the lifeless body of the notorious pirate, Commodore Bob was dumped after a lynchmob had caught and hanged him at Nuns Quarter, nearby. The pirate band were the infamous Merry Hearts of Down. His body had been dumped in the old mill for the rats to dispose of, however Commodore Bob wasn't quite dead, and the rats first ate the malty ropes. The pirate escaped, made his way to Bangor, and tried to betray his band of men to the Navy. However his plot failed when the Naval vessel ran around on reefs off Ballyquinitn Bay while chasing a pirate vessel sailing in from the Isel of Man.
visit the Harrison's of Greyabbey website

Mount Stewart - Mount Stewart is one of the most inspiring and unusual gardens in the National Trust's ownership. The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry that was the hallmark of Edith, Lady Londonderry. The mild climate of Strangford Lough allows astonishing levels of planting experimentation. The formal areas exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape; the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world, ensuring something to see whatever the season.
The house has now re-opened after a 3-year restoration project, bringing back the elegance and charm of the house when it was home of the 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry and her family in the early 20th century.
visit the Mount Stewart website

Mid Isle Cottage - situated on a little island that can be accessed on foot at low tide. This was the Keeper's Cottage, home to generations of the McAvoy family who were tenants of the Montgomery family. Mid Isle is best viewed from the shore road south of Greyabbey - you can't miss it; access to the island is along the shore at low tide.

Orange Tree House - an award-winning conference and wedding venue situated right on the lough shore at Greyabbey; originally built as a Prebyterian meeting house in the 1820s, the building complex has been carefully restored and refurbished to create a venue for events. The function room can comfortably accommodate up to 120 guests for dinner, with room for extra evening guests up to around 150.
visit the Orange Tree House website

The Swan Hole - Just a couple of hundred yards south of the village, following the shore road, you come across a manmade causeway. This causeway was constructed as a public works programme, funded by the Montgomery family during the Great Irish Famine; this project provided much-needed employment to the local community during these difficult times, and the causeway remains an main arterial route for the peninsula.
This causeway cut across a natural inlet, which has become a fine little lake. The lake is popular with waterfowl, and in recent years up to 30 swans can be seen bobbing about at any one time.

Now turn around and look at the shore - at low tide you can still see the lines of rocks, which are the remains of ancient fish-traps.
And out on the mudflats at low tide, if you can find it, you can examine the fragile remains of a neolithic dugout canoe which remains stuck in the mud.

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Ballyhalbert - Ballywalter - Carrowdore - Cloughey
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