Kilkeel is located on the South East coast of Co. Down in Northern Ireland. It takes its name from the old 13th church ruins in the centre of the town, cill-caol (Gaelic) meaning the church of the narrows.It is beleived that this old church was financed by a Spanish noble family after their son had been drowned and washed ashore and given a christian burial by the locals. However there are references to Kilkeel as a christian settlement as far back as the 11th century. Kilkeel is the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Mourne and even today the surrounding area is refered to as the Kingdom of Mourne. The current population is about 5500, and the Kingdom of Mourne population is around 8500.The area is sourrounded by the Irish Sea on two sides and the Mourne Mountains on the other two sides and has only three access roads from the rest of Northern Ireland.
Industry. The main occupations of the area are farming and fishing. Kilkeel has the largest fishing fleet in Ireland with over 120 trawlers. There is also a small Granite industry, which used to be much larger with granite products being exported to England. Its has a number of fish procesing factories which specialise in the processing of prawns. It also has two major factories, one of which produces toughened glass which is exported world wide and the other produces aircraft seats and is the European headquarters of BAE Aerospace. Tourism is becoming a major industry and during the summer the population doubles.
Climate. The Mourne area has a very temperate climate with few frosts and little snow in the winter. The weather in the area is always milder than the rest of Northern Ireland due to the shelter of the mountains. The area also has the warmest sea water of Northern Ireland but it is still cold at 5 degrees centigrade, a tempreature which changes little during the year.
Activities. Kilkeel has a number of activities to offer visitors, Tennis Courts, Bowling, Swiming all at the local Leisure Centre, an 18 hole Golf course just outside the town, Sea & Game fishing, Walking and climbing, Golf driving ranges, 18 hole Pitch & Putt course, Cinema, popular beach at Cranfield, just outside Kilkeel, which wins awards every year, Riding, good food and drink, Cinema, Bingo, excellent hospitality and freindly locals. There are also a number of interesting places to visit in the local area; Kilkeel Harbour to see the fishing boats and the fishing interperative exhibition at the Nauticulus Centre; Silent Valley and Spelga resevoirs; electric hill at Spelga Dam; Cornmill at Annalong
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