The Isle of Whithorn Maritime History

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An old photograph of the Isle of Whithorn Harbour
The Isle of Whithorn

The Isle of Whithorn

The McWilliams


The McWilliams were a prominent family who lived in the Isle of Whithorn. For many years they ran the village shop, a wooden building reputedly made from ships’ timbers, and a well-known village landmark. The front of the building leaned forward and village residents swore that the lean increased every year.

The McWilliams originally had a shipyard in the Isle where they built quite large vessels over many years as shown by the records in the local papers.. There were two brothers - one of whom ran the shipyard, while the other was a Master Mariner. One story, which the family has never disputed, is that the yard built a schooner that Captain McWilliam took on a voyage to South America carrying a cargo of machinery, and either fertiliser or salt. During the voyage the machinery was spoiled and a legal action ensued, but fortunately the brothers just had time to put all their property in their wives’ names. The shipyard was lost, but the shop was set up selling ship’s husbandry.

The shape of the old slipway can still be seen across the harbour; it was dismantled and taken over to Northern Ireland where it was in use until well after the First World War.

The shop continued trading until it was demolished in 2002.


 

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