I went back to the coast road between Donaghadee and Millisle to explore the townland of Ballycopeland.

Millisle sign (1)According to the PLACENAMESNI website, the “copeland” part of this townland name comes from the “De Couplan” family, who were prominent in 12th century Ulster.  They also gave their name to the Copeland Islands off the County Down coast.

Ballycopeland stretches from the Irish Sea back to the Windmill Road and Ballybuttle Road.  It takes in the northern edge of the village of Millisle, as far as the Mill Burn river.

Ballybuttle Road Ballycopeland signBallycopeland had its own Presbyterian church from 1773 to 1906.  Since then the church building has gone, but the name has survived in the combined “Millisle and Ballycopeland” congregation.

Millisle Presbyterian Church signThe graveyard beside the Millisle & Ballycopeland church contains this grave for a family from Ballycopeland.

Ballycopeland grave in MillisleBallycopeland’s most distinctive building is this 18th century windmill, which once served as the principal grain-mill in the Donaghadee district.

Ballycopeland Windmill machineryUnfortunately on the day of my visit in 2015 the windmill was closed.

Ballycopeland Windmill warning sign I took a couple of photos of the traditional features on the miller’s house instead.

Ballycopeland Windmill chimneyBallycopeland Windmill green door Our best chance of learning more about the windmill now lies with Ards and North Down Council.  Their website is advertising an exhibition scheduled to take place later this year.

“3 September 2016 – 24 September 2016
Learn about the extensive conservation project undertaken at Ballycopeland Windmill from 2015-16.   Since 2015 the Historic Environment Division of the Department of Environment has undertaken extensive conservation of the windmill, including the replacement of the sails.”

Until then, I can only offer you a windmill mosaic from Millisle beach park in the neighbouring townland of Ballymacruise.

Millisle mosaic of Ballycopeland windmill


more information

Click here for a history of Millisle and Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church.

Click here for the village plan “Millisle 2024 Moving Forward”, which includes proposals for improving access to the windmill, and developing a walking route along the river.

Which townlands border Ballycopeland?   To the north, Craigboy  and Miller Hill.  To the west,  Killaghy.  To the south, Ballybuttle and Ballymacruise.  To the east, the Irish Sea.

Click here for a map of Ballycopeland on Townlands.IE.

Click here for a link to a 19th century map of Ballycopeland on the website of Ordnance Survey Ireland.

Which civil parish is Ballycopeland in?  Donaghadee

Which council area is Ballycopeland in?  Ards and North Down Borough Council

Which county is Ballycopeland in?  County Down

And finally, click here to read about the townland’s name on my usual source – PLACENAMESNI.ORG.


  1. I always think it a shame when buildings, especially ones that were centre of a community are torn down. Which is why I used to love how an old church was repurposed as the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill – with the most gorgeous historic parts the library – including a special vestibule for rare manuscripts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice article, and thank you from Millisle. We’re very proud of our iconic windmill, and our wish is that the community can work with the various statutory partners involved to ensure better access to the site once the current restoration is finished.


    • Here’s hoping your wish comes true and I can come back to take more photos of the windmill.
      I have lots more townlands to do in the Millisle area, like Ballyrolly, Ballyfrenis and Grangee.


  3. Looking at the photo you have of the James Gunning grave, there might be a connection to him and my family. I found out this year that my great, great aunt Isabella married a Thomas Gunning from Millisle, so that could possibly be reletives of his. I also found out that some of my ancestors are buried at Millisle & Ballycopeland Church graveyard. I’ll have to go and see the graveyard at some point and find their graves as I have not seen them before.


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