About the Project

The Families at Sea project was born out of a photographic display held here in the Mourne maritime Visitor Centre. Out of the great public response, it was decided that before it was too late, a comprehensive project should be undertaken to record the precious and fascinating maritime heritage of Mourne – as told by the families who have lived that history.

The People

We hope to discover what life was like for everyone in these families, for the seamen themselves with the ups and downs of this profession. Also, however for those not at sea, the sons and daughters of these men, and of course their wives, who held together their households singlehandedly.

The Variety

There are many strands of maritime, and we hope also to unveil the stories and circumstances of Merchant Seamen. There were hundreds of men from this area who enlisted in the Merchant Navy, and we will display the CR-10 cards or Identity cards for these men who played a very important part in the seafaring history of Mourne.

The Industry

The Maritime industry of course does not stop with boats, and the umbilical relationship between the sea ships and the on-shore services is hundreds of years old. These are the people that helped to create that special atmosphere of a harbour.

The Harbour

The centrepiece of maritime activity, Kilkeel’s hub of shipping has evolved and grown over the years. We will reveal the changes that unfolded, both in its physical development, and in the invisible social fabric that was created around the harbour walls.

The Story

We feel all of these elements provide a fascinating insight into the unique environment of the Kilkeel harbour. The most compelling story though, is that of the people who have lived this story. We hope you enjoy our new interactive exhibition: ‘Families at Sea’.