If you travel by train, bus or car between Holywood and Bangor in County Down, you pass through the townland of Ballycultra, which stretches from the shore of Belfast Lough up into the Craigantlet hills.

The name is abbreviated to Cultra (pronounced cul-TRAW) everywhere, including this pub…..

Cultra Inn

…..and this sign for the North Down Coastal Path along Belfast Lough.

North Down Coast Path sign

The Cultra section of the Coastal Path offers excellent bird-watching opportunities.  I saw oystercatchers, common redshanks and turnstones there last year,  and shared my photos on my Distant Drumlin blog in March 2014.  I took the next photo of light-bellied Brent geese on the lough in April 2015.

Light-bellied Brent geese in Belfast Lough The only place where the full official name of the townland is still used is in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.   Not surprising, really, as they are the experts on local history, after all.

Ballycultra tearoomThe Folk Museum is an interesting place, with old buildings from urban and rural Ulster.

Ulster Folk Museum thatched cottage Five different farmhouses and farmyards have been dismantled, transported to Ballycultra and rebuilt, to tell the story of what life was like in the countryside.

Ulster Folk Museum pumpThere are plenty of animals around.  On my visit I saw a litter of piglets, as well as donkeys, goats, geese and horses.

Ulster Folk Museum horseAccording to the PLACENAMESNI website, the name Ballycultra comes from the Baile Chúl Trá meaning “townland of the back of the strand”.  I guess the strand refers to the loughshore.

Click here for the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum website.

Click here for information on the North Down Coastal Path.



  1. So with these farm houses dismantled and rebuild there it is kind of a open air museum? Strange that they ‘cut down’ the name like that. I think I have never heard of this kind of thing happening in Finland or Germany but then again it is most likely that the average person just doesn’t know the full name anymore so the nowadays name seem all perfectly fine


  2. My local area here, I lived in Holywood for several years and am now down the road in Helens Bay. Yes there’s an excellent museum in Cultra (ie. Ballycultra) I would highly recommend it (you could easily spend a full day there). The old church/chapel there was moved brick by brick from Portadown (at Drumcree) about 25yrs ago (my parents were married in it in 1963 before it closed) and there’s also a large transport museum attached as well with many old vehicles (if you ever wanted to sit in one of the cars that Marty McFly drives in the Back To The Future movies this is the place). There’s also a lovely walk all the way along Belfast Lough shores from Holywood past Cultra and the nice beaches and forest at Crawfordsburn and Helens Bay to Bangor. Great pix btw 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really interested to hear from someone who has a personal connection to a building in the Folk Museum. They do such a good job of moving the buildings, that it’s hard to believe that they really stood somewhere else, but I guess your family knows it’s true.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Which townlands border Craigogantlet?  From Craigantlet, it’s downhill in every direction.  Staying in Newtownards parish, you find Ballymoney, Ballyskeagh High and Killarn.  Over the boundary with Bangor parish is Ballysallagh Major.  Go down the western side of the hills and you reach Carrowreagh and Dunlady in Dundonald parish. Move north into Holywood parish and the next townlands are Ballymenagh and Ballycultra. […]


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