Welcome To Down!
Northern Ireland is a country of beauty and variety; and no part of it combines so much of each in so neat and compact an area as the heart of Down.
The world knows that the Mountains o' Mourne sweep down to the sea' - at Newcastle. The sea itself invades the land, forming the great bird sanctuary and yachting paradise of Strangford Lough.
County Down has St. Patrick’s Country at its heart, the Mourne Mountains in the south and Strangford Lough – a haven for wild fowl – in the north.
Hare’s Gap in the southern mountains known as Mourne is a famed area for hillwalkers. The range sweeps down to the sea, and the trail from Trassey Track to Hare’s Gap is a favourite for hikers. Places to admire on the aesthetic front include the beautiful Spelga Pass, and the mountains are speckled with lakes too. The Mourne Mountains are, as the name suggests, actual mountains, and hillwalkers are advised to take all the essentials, including maps and compasses. The Mourne Wall is a great aid for walkers, which is a marathon length stretch of drystone wall connecting the inner summits of the Mournes.
St Patrick himself is said to have landed in Down to begin his mission of conversion. A local chief, Dichu, was won over early in Patrick’s mission, and he provided Ireland’s patron saint with a barn from where he began his ministry. Saul Church marks the supposed place. Built in 1932, the church that stands there (not far from the town of Downpatrick) marked the fifteen hundredth anniversary of Patrick’s arrival. Struell’s Well marks the spot where Patrick tested his stamina by taking a dunk in the icy waters.
Ecclesiastical history can be further explored at any number of locations in County Down. Downpatrick Cathedral marks the supposed spot of Patrick’s last burial (interred there by Sir John deCourcy – or so he swore – in the twelfth century, along with saints Columba and Brigid). It is unknown whether Patrick’s body does indeed lie within the cathedral walls. Indeed, it is still not known for sure if Patrick himself ever existed.
Meanwhile, Inch Abbey is a Cistercian monastery also worth a visit. Three churches of seventeenth century origin are located at Loughinisland.
General information Down
County Down is named after its county town, Downpatrick. It is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland. Although Downpatrick is the county town, the largest town is Bangor, with Newry lying on the boundary between Down and Armagh, and Lisburn and Belfast on the boundary between counties Down and Antrim. Down is home to the easternmost point in Ireland (Burr Point).
The county borders the Irish Sea to the east, County Antrim to the north and County Armagh to the west. Saint Patrick is reputed to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, as are St. Brigid and St. Columba.Accommodation in Down
Down provides you with ample accommodation options to suit your requirement and your budget. Choose from Bed & Breakfasts, Guest Houses, Hostels, Hotels and Farm Houses and more.Hotels in Down
The hotels of Down are excellent venues to spend your down-time in Northern Ireland. Hotels such as the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, provide you with a cosy and convenient place to stay while you explore the county, province or country.Bed & Breakfast in Down
Bed & breakfast accommodation in Down provides you with a comfortable and affordable stay along with deliciously cooked breakfast all for a reasonable price. B&B in Down includes names such as Greenacres Guesthouse in Banbridge.Down Restaurants
No matter what your taste, you will find a restaurant in Down to satisfy your appetite. Popular restaurants in Down include Bronte Steakhouse in Banbridge and Coyles Bistro in Bangor.Shopping in Down
There are several great shopping districts all over County Down. Bangor Belfast and Lurgan all offer a range of shops and the Swan Centre in Newry is one of Irelands most famous shopping centres.Down Car Down
Car rentals in Down offer you the chance to decide your own destination. Some of prime car rentals in Down include Belfast Car Hire, Belfast Airport Car Hire, Bangor Car Hire, Lisburn Car Hire, Newcastle Car Hire and Downpatrick Car Hire.Down Golf
Down has many golf courses including both links and parkland courses at venues like Bangor, Warrenpoint and Downpatrick Golf Clubs.
Attractions Down Ireland
Crawfordsburn Country Park - Crawfordsburn
Crawfordsburn Country Park on the southern shores of Belfast Lough is a park full of variety. It features 3.5km of coastline, often rugged and rocky. The two best beaches in the Belfast area are also located here, a deep wooded glen with an attractive waterfall and flowery meadows with excellent views over the Lough. A series of way marked trails help you to explore the Park.
Greyabbey - Greyabbey
Substantial remains of this twelfth century Cistercian abbey still stand. Strong links with English abbeys of the time created a steady flow of traffic across the Irish Sea. Mysterious and atmospheric, the beautiful parkland setting and fascinating medieval Physick Garden make a wonderful picnic spot. The Abbey may be opened on request during the winter months and weekends.
Inch Abbey - Downpatrick
Just north-west of Downpatrick lies Inch Abbey. Built before 800AD, it was destroyed by vikings and later came back to life as a Cistercian monastry founded by John de Courcy. A raised causeway now leads to the site, which, as the name suggests, was an island in the Quoile. A lot of the Abbey has been reduced to ground level but the east end of the church, with its three early English lancet windows, chapter house and reflectory is still well preserved.
Mount Stewart House - Newtownards
Located at Portaferry Road, Newtownards, Mount Stewart House was once the boyhood home of Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh. Its gardens are currently among the finest in Europe, with an unrivalled collection of plants, colourful parterres and vistas. The Temple of the Winds overlooks Strangford Lough.
Nendrum Monastic Site - Mahee Island
Located at Mahee Island, Comber, this is a classic example of a pre-Norman monastic enclosure. Created by Saint Patricks convert Saint Mochaoi, it sits on a beautiful site on Mahee Island in Strangford Lough. Also on the site are the remains of a round tower stump as well as the foundations of other buildings. The Nendrum bell founded on this site is now held in the Ulster Museum.