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Ards Tourist Information Centre
31 Regent Street, Newtownards, County Down,
T: (028) 9182 6846
F: (028) 9182 6681
Just a few miles south of Ballywalter lies Ballyhalbert. Ballyhalbert (from the Irish: Balle Thalboid meaning ‘Talbot’s townland’; also Talsbotstoun in Ulster Scots) is a small village in Co Down. It is on the east (Irish Sea) coast of the Ards Peninsula between Ballywalter and Portavogie.
Ballyhalbert takes its name from the Talbot family who settled in the area following the Anglo-Norman conquest led by John de Courcy in the 12th Century.
There is a fine, sandy beach and a harbour half a mile from the village which has become a centre for jet skiers and watersports. Just past the harbour is mainland Ireland’s most easterly point. Burr Point is located at longitude 5.43 degrees west, 2km south of Ballyhalbert.
The most easterly point in Ireland is Big Bow Meel Island, which is a rock situated 900 metres off the Ards Peninsula at Portavogie.
Just above Burr point stands a disused Coast Guard Tower, this tower was in use in 1863 and was one of twelve which made up the Donaghadee district.
Portaferry RNLI’s official service area covers all the waters of Strangford Lough but they are also tasked with Irish Sea waters up to five nautical miles offshore from Burr Point to St John’s Point.
Ballyhalbert is largely residential and has a large holiday park which was formerly a Royal Air Force base, RAF Ballyhalbert, during World War II.
Construction of the airfield began in 1940 and the windmill stump at Clydesburn was demolished during the process. The airfield was officially opened on 28th June 1941.
RAF Ballyhalbert saw service from RAF, WAAF and Royal Navy personnel. Servicemen from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and Poland all saw service at Ballyhalbert and a short distance away from the airfield in two local churchyards lie Canadian, Australian and Polish men who lost their lives whilst serving at Ballyhalbert.
One important event that happened during the lifetime of the airfield was on 19th May 1944 when General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces visited the station en route for RAF Bovington. General Eisenhower later went on to become the President of the United States in 1953. The control tower and a lot of the runways are still visible today.
The town also boasts a nature reserve, an 800 year old castle mound, a standing stone and the ruins of an old church, and there is evidence too of Ballyhalbert’s early trading connection – the locals here speak with an accent as broad as any Scot.