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.
The 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.
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.
As 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.)
According 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.
Click here to read more about Woburn House and the Dunbar family.
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.