Newcastle Townland/Newcastle Lighthouse Keepers cottage
In 1571 Elizabeth 1 granted 360,000 acres in eastern Ulster to her principal Secretary of State Sir Thomas Smith to run as a privately financed colony. Smith published a booklet advertising his land to prospective tenants in England. In August 1572, some 100 investors arrived at the base chosen by Smith, the townland of Newcastle. Unfortunately for Smith, Sir Brian O’Neill, chief of the Clandeboye O’Neill’s, who contested ownership of the land with the Crown, had also read the booklet and was determined to prevent them. O’Neill burned any building in the area he thought they might make use of, including abbeys and castles. Internal conflict and the killing of his son caused Sir Thomas to rethink and the scheme was eventually abandoned.
Sir James Hamilton, who it is said ‘tricked’ Smith’s old grant from his nephew, moved his brother William into Newcastle after the beginning of the Hamilton/Montgomery Plantation in May 1606. Today, on the site of an old castle are refurbished lighthouse keeper’s cottages, a thick fortified wall and a small quay, as Sir Thomas Smith had planned.
A public road passes through the townland. The cottages are privately owned and cannot be accessed. Visit www.visitstrangfordlough.co.uk or call 028 9182 6846 for more information.