PAST is participating in a series of maritime heritage talks given on Zoom, part of the Connecting Communities project in the Ards and N Down Council area, supported by PEACE IV funding. We have arranged four speakers as Portaferry’s contribution, one of whom, Dr Pat Tanner, is part of the March programme. He is a traditional boat builder and owns a Galway Hooker himself. He was involved in the Traditional Boats of Ireland Project in which he used laser scanning to produce detailed recordings of a range of traditional boats. The data enabled the production of 3-D images. He has undertaken the digital reconstruction of some famous ships - the Sutton Hoo burial ship, the Mary Rose and the Newport Medieval Ship. He gave a tremendous PAST talk in 2017 which was well attended and enthusiastically received. His talk for this series, “The Use of Modern Technology to Record Traditional/Historic Vessels”, promises to be at least as good. For details of this and the other talks in the March programme and how to access them please see the flyer below.

The other speakers arranged by PAST for the April and May programmes are:

James Nixon who will be talking about the "History of the Strangford Lough River Class 1921 - 2021” (a fine book has already sold out). James is an accomplished sailor and owns a River. He has given previous fascinating and entertaining PAST talks. This is one that will be of interest to many around Strangford Lough and beyond so please let all your friends know.

Allison Murphy, a regular and accomplished local speaker, will be talking about “The Men Who Made Portaferry” focusing on Portaferry’s little-known shipbuilding industry in the early 19th century.

James Elliott, a local researcher of maritime history, will be speaking about “Some Portaferry Vessels” which will deal with the maritime trade that shaped Portaferry, its risks and some of the schooners involved in it.

We will send you the programmes for April and May when they are published. For those who aren’t available at the time, the talks are to be recorded and will be available later via the Videos section of our website. Check it and our Facebook page regularly to keep an eye on what we’re up to. You may well find something of interest.

Best wishes to all our supporters. Like many other organisations, PAST’s activities have been severely curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic but our volunteers have not been idle.

EVENTS - We have been unable to hold events and so the programme had to be halted after Adrian Spence’s wonderful talk recounting his “Madcap Adventures” on 28 Feb 2020.  We had arranged a great series of events and talks for the rest of 2020 and hope that they will only have been postponed.  Once we know when it is possible for them to resume, we will publish a new programme.  We are currently exploring the possibility of holding online events.

PUBLICATIONS - We have commenced the publication of what we hope will be an expanding series of leaflets on various topics under the title “A wee bit of maritime history …”.  They can be obtained free either as hard copies from shops in Portaferry and Strangford or as PDF's via Downloads on this website.  

The booklet, “The Mysterious Stranding of The S.S. Georgetown Victory”, can be obtained at our visitor centre The Ropewalk.  It is free but you may wish to make a donation to help support our work.  We await publication of “A 1000 Years of the Portaferry-Strangford Ferry”.

JIM BLANEY MEMORIAL ARCHIVE - Work to produce a catalogue of the Jim Blaney Memorial Archive continues to progress and is now close to the point where it can be used.

THE ROPEWALK MARITIME HERITAGE VISITOR CENTRE – Planning for the 2021 exhibition has commenced.  In addition to the presentations for adults, there will be more for young people this year.  It is not yet clear whether regulations will allow us to reopen as usual at Easter.