Featured image of Portaferry Castle

The History of Portaferry Castle

LocationPortaferry, Country Down, Northern Ireland (Google Map)
Open for VisitorsNo (Currently Closed for Repairs)
Owned ByDepartment’s Historic Environment Division (HED)
Rooms AvailableNo

Portaferry Castle is a small tower house located in Portaferry, Northern Ireland, near the harbour built in the 1500s by William Le Savage. It overlooks the Portaferry harbour within sight of Strangford and Audley’s Castles across the water. Portaferry Castle is ruined and comes under State Care Historic Monument and is maintained by the Department’s Historic Environment Division (HED).

History of Portaferry Castle

Portaferry Castle was built by Anglo-Norman savage family members in the late 1500s, located on a slope overlooking a nearby harbour. It was simply a gatehouse tower house earlier with a unique square plan. However, it got ruined when Scots settled in here in the 1600s.

Later, Jean Montgomery married Patrick Savage in 1623, and that’s where Sir James Montgomery of Rosemount, Patrick Savage’s brother-in-law, repaired and renovated the castle as a wedding gift. The renovation work was completed in 1634, and here, the roofing and flooring were increased to offer his sister greater comfort.

After a few years, the Portaferry town developed into an important port, and a ferry charter was granted to the owners. And until the 1970s, the Savages, and Nugents after them, remained the major landowners of the castle. Now, the castle is ruined because of being unused for years and used to control ship traffic through narrows along with another tower house in Strangford.


Portaferry Castle from Castle Street
Portaferry Castle from Castle Street”, by Eric Jones, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Portaferry Castle is a small 16th-century tower house used by the Savage family for living. It has a square architecture with a small projecting turret at its South corner. Now, the castle is ruined, but it is easy to identify that it had three storeys, the attic, and a stone-made design. It lacks a stone vault as the floor was originally made of wood. Although it is easy to identify the window position and structure of the Portaferry Castle, the eastern corner is ruinous.

The Portaferry Castle’s entrance is located near the turret’s base and is protected by a small machicolation. Also, the ground floor’s chamber near the entrance is protected by a murder hole. Going inside the castle, you will notice a spiral or curved stairway rising to the first-floor level located in the western corner, and it goes straight to the roof level.

Even though there is not much to explore inside, the tourist information and visitor centre in the former stables in front of the castle can give a good idea about its history. Tourists can visit it to experience a beautiful harbour view.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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