Kilkeel

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Coordinates: 54°03′32″N 5°59′31″W / 54.059°N 5.992°W / 54.059; -5.992

Kilkeel
Irish: Cill Chaoil
Kilkeel is located in Northern Ireland
Kilkeel
Kilkeel
 Kilkeel shown within Northern Ireland
Population 6,338 (2001 Census)
District Newry and Mourne
County County Down
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town NEWRY
Postcode district BT34
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament South Down
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Down

Kilkeel (from Irish: Cill Chaoil, meaning "church of the narrow")[1][2] is a small town, townland and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the main fishing port on the Down coast, and its harbour houses one of the largest fishing fleets in Ireland. It had a population of 6,338 people according to the 2001 Census. The town contains the ruins of a 14th-century church and fort, winding streets and terraced shops.

Geography[edit]

Kilkeel sits on a plain south of the Mourne Mountains. It stretches along the southern coast of County Down, from Carlingford Lough in the west to Annalong in the east. The town is at the foot of a river that flows southwards from the Mournes. Four miles southwest of Kilkeel is Cranfield Point, a small peninsula that marks the southernmost point of the county. The settlement is named after the townland of Kilkeel, in which it began. Over time, the urban area has grown into the neighbouring townlands. They include:[3]

  • Derryoge (from Irish Doire Ríóg, meaning "Ríog's oak wood")
  • Drumcro (from Irish Druim Cró, meaning "ridge of the fold/enclosure")
  • Dunnaman
  • Kilkeel (from Irish Cill Chaoil, meaning "narrow church")
  • Magheramurphy (from Irish Machaire Mhurchaidh, meaning "Murphy's plain")

History[edit]

Picture of "Narrow Church"

Kilkeel takes its name from the old church overlooking the town, it being the anglicised version of the Gaelic 'Cill Chaoil' meaning "Narrow Church" or "The Church of/in the Narrow Place." The name may be drawn from the church location on a narrow site above the town.[citation needed] The church was constructed in 1388 and dedicated to "St Colman Del Mourne." It was thought to be the principal Church in a group which included Kilmegan and Kilcoo despite the fact that Kilkeel was very sparsely populated in the Middle Ages. There are references to Kilkeel as a Christian settlement as far back as the 11th century. Kilkeel is the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Mourne.[citation needed]

The cemetery attached to the church was used for burials until 1916. The last burials at the cemetery were victims of a collision between two steamers the Retriever and the SS Connemara in Carlingford Lough.

On 30 May 1918 a fleet of Kilkeel fishing boats was sunk by the U-boat UB-64 under the command of Otto von Schrader. The boats sunk, 12 miles off the coast of County Down, included the Jane Gordon, Cyprus, Never Can Tell, St Mary, Sparkling Wave, Lloyds, Marianne Macrum and the motor vessel Honey Bee. Only two boats, Moss Rose and Mary Joseph, were not sunk and the crews returned to port on those boats.[4] The Mary Joseph (N55) is now in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

Economy[edit]

  • Fishing is a major industry in Kilkeel, with Kilkeel Harbour the home port for the largest fishing fleet in Northern Ireland.
  • In recent years BE Aerospace has become the largest employer in the area. Its Kilkeel facility, which manufactures aircraft seats for a worldwide customer base, employs over 800 people.[5]

People[edit]

2001 Census[edit]

Kilkeel is classified as a small town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (i.e. with population between 4,500 and 14,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001), there were 6,338 people living in Kilkeel. Of these:

  • 26.2% were aged under 16 years and 18.2% were aged 60 and over;
  • 48.4% of the population were male and 51.6% were female; and
  • 3.5% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

Religion[edit]

The town of Kilkeel has a strong Unionist heritage. But while, in 2001, the ward of Kilkeel Central was recorded as 69% Protestant (21% Catholic, 10% other), the ward of Kilkeel South was only 37% Protestant (55% Catholic, 7% other).

Religious breakdown of wards in and around Kilkeel -from 2001 census data

Kilkeel now sits within the administrative area of Newry and Mourne, which is recorded in the 2001 census as being 80.6% Catholic. For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service

Education[edit]

Sport[edit]

Most popular sports in the Kilkeel area include Association football, fishing, Gaelic football, golf, hockey, hurling, and swimming.

Kilkeel Hockey Club plays at McAuley Park, fielding three men's teams and two ladies' teams. Kilkeel is the only hockey club in Mourne, drawing players from the whole of the Mourne area, with Annalong providing a considerable number of its players.

The most senior football team is Valley Rangers F.C. of the Mid-Ulster Football League. Other local teams include Ballyvea, Kilkeel, Kilkeel Athletic and the Mourne Rovers. With the exception of Kilkeel Athletic, the local football clubs play in the SK Holmes Newcastle League.

G.A.A. clubs include An Riocht, Atticall, Ballymartin, Longstone and Glasdrumman.

There are two local golf courses, Kilkeel Golf Course and Cranfield Pitch and Putt.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  2. ^ Placenames NI
  3. ^ "Northern Ireland Placenames Project". Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, Aidan; Breen, Colin (2007). Maritime Ireland. An Archaeology of Coastal Communities. Stroud: Tempus. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-7524-2509-2. 
  5. ^ "B/E Aerospace workers given pledge over US sale plan". Belfast Telegraph. May 7, 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Information". Gaelscoil na mBeann. 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2013.