Portpatrick was the principle port for ferries crossing between Scotland and the north of Ireland at this time. The crossing is only 20 miles at this point. Whether the weather prevented the American passenger ship coming into harbour or whether it was just too big, Thomas is ferried ashore in a smaller boat.
Relationship with place
It was through an open submission process launched by commissioners in Ayrshire that I was invited to make an artwork in Dumfries and Galloway. I wrote about my interest in Thomas Muir and told them that he had come back into Scotland via this port in 1793.
In September 2007 I was invited to launch the template for this website and build a community of interest around the story. The goal was to link Portpatrick with 70 other destinations on the locations page of this website. I felt I could gather support in the disparate locations linked by Thomas Muir’s journey to bring together groups of people who where interested in what was going on in places beyond the celebrated centres of contemporary art. I had never been to Portpatrick and recognized that this journey to make 20 photographs was already proving its worth to me.
The ruin of Dunskey Castle is the landmark that everyone looks for as they approach this coast of Scotland. It’d been burnt out for over 200 years before Tom got there, but despite this abandonment it still looks impressive today.
The harbour had always had strategic importance as the stepping off point for troops from Scotland sent over to Ireland. All those Scots involved in the plantation of Ulster came through this port and with the migration of labour into Scotland as the industrial revolution got going, daily boats from Donaghadee earned the town the nickname of Gretna Green for the Irish.
So with a kings patronage, the manpower of the military and a livestock market in Dumfries for Irish sheep, pigs and cows the whole place would have had a thriving feel about it.
Cost shared between Stanraer and Portpatrick
190 mile round trip by car from Glasgow