Two miles along the coast road from Donaghadee is the seaside village of Millisle. This was originally a fishing village but is now the base for a number of large caravan sites and holiday homes which double the permanent population of 1400 every summer.
The main attraction is the fine strand beside the village where Ards Borough Council has opened a beach park. Millisle itself has a number of amusement arcades as well as picnic areas and children’s play facilities.
Just inland from the village is the restored Ballycopeland Windmill, a popular feature for tourists, especially children. The caravan parks, which hold around 1000 units, also cater for the tourer and a list of sites is available from the Newtownards and Portaferry Tourist Information Centres.
In the townland of Ballyrolly, situated a the southern end of the village, lies a farm with one of the little known secret histories of the Second World War in Ireland.
In 1938 when hundreds of Jewish Synagogues, businesses and shops were burned, smashed, looted and the Jewish population were brutalized a rescue plan was developed and a small group of volunteers raised money and support for the plight of the Jewish children. Their plan to evacuate these children became known as Kindertransport.
The Kindertransport operation rescued 10,000 children aged from three months to 17 years. The children were housed all over Britain and some arrived in Northern Ireland.
Ballyrolly House was leased by the Rufugee Relief Committee and up to 80 people including the children lived and worked on the farm at any one time. It is believed that well over 300 adults and children passed through Ballyrolly Farm between 1938 and 1948.
Amy Beatrice Carmichael was born in Millisle on 16th December 1867. Amy became a missionary and spent time working in China, Japan and India.
In 1901 she founded the Dohnavar Fellowship in India addressing the terrible plight of the Temple children, who lived in darkness and shame. She saved hundreds of children from a life of unbearable torture.
Download the Millisle Heritage Walking Guide.
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