Today’s townland is Drumfad, on the Ards Peninsula in County Down.  South of the village of Millisle, the shoreline of the Irish Sea curves round Drumfad Bay through the townlands of Ballymacruise, Ballyrolly, Drumfad, Ballyhaskin and Ballywhiskin.

drumfad-bay-beachThe most striking building in Drumfad townland is Woburn House.  This house was built in the 19th century for the family of John Gilmore Dunbar, a wealthy mill owner and the landlord for the tenant farmers of Drumfad and Ballyrolly.

drumfad-bay-building The estate was inherited in 1846 by George Orr Dunbar, twice Member of Parliament for Belfast and Belfast’s first mayor.  In 1956, Woburn House was bought by the Northern Ireland Ministry of Finance and converted to a boys’ borstal.  More recently, it was a training college for the Northern Ireland Prison Service.  I don’t know what its future use will be.

Thankfully, my visit to Drumfad didn’t involve detention of any kind, just a free stroll along the beach on a summer evening when even the shells had long shadows.

drumfad-shellAs usual on these County Down beaches, I was following oystercatchers. (For all I know, this could be the same bird visiting the townlands of Ballyhalbert, Town Parks of Donaghadee, Miller Hill and Drumfad.)

drumfad-bay-oystercatcherThe northern boundary of the townland of Drumfad is Woburn Road, which branches off the main A2 coast road between the houses and trees in this photo.

ballyrolly-road-and-housesThe southern boundary of the townland runs along Drumfad Road.

drumfad-road-sign-1According to the PLACENAMESNI website, the name Drumfad comes from the Irish An Droim Fada meaning “long ridge”.  Drumfad also appears as a townland name in Donegal, Tyrone and Sligo.  Closer to home it has been used for this new housing development in the neighbouring townland of Ballyrolly.


drumfad-avenue-signOn another day out on the Ards Peninsula,  I found Drumfad engraved on several headstones in Carrowdore churchyard, for the Geddies, Campbell and Burch families.

gravestone-for-geddies-of-drumfad-in-carrowdore gravestone-for-campbell-of-drumfad-in-millisle gravestone-for-burch-of-drumfad-in-carrowdore

more information

Click here to read more about Woburn House and the Dunbar family.

Click here to for a link to a Walking Guide to Millisle.

Which civil parish is Drumfad in?  Donaghadee

Which townlands border Drumfad?   To the north, Ballyrolly.  To the east, the Irish Sea.  To the south, Ballyhaskin.  To the west, Ballyrawer and Ballyfrenis.

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

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


  1. Lovely photos as ever. Your blog posts are like an oasis of calm in my inbox and give me such pleasure. I always read even if I don’t always comment.

    There are some interesting ghost stories attached to the big house at Woburn 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased that I’ve been able to show you the Geddies headstone. Do you still live locally in Drumfad or has the Geddis family spread far and wide?


      • Hi Karolyn, thank you for posting the picture. I’m not sure if any relatives are still in the area as all the relatives I know of are in the United States. Since arrival in the 1850’s and 1860’s the family has spread all through the country. I’ll be visiting the area around the first week of September to search church records and records at the Records Office in Belfast. Thanks again for posting the picture, Scott Geddis

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Karolyn, I love the photos. My ancestors are from Drumfad. I visited there in the 1980s. My 2x great grandfather John McCallum married Rachel Mcwhinney from Ballyhaskin in the Millile Presbyterian church in 1834. John’s parent’s were John McCallum born 1807 in Drumfad and Elizabeth Jane Ladder born 1807 in Portavo. I would be grateful if you knew of any way I could find out about living relatives who may still be in Drumfad.

    Kind regards
    Liz McCallum.


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