County Down

Original Official Site of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board

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. St Patrick sailed into the lough in A.D. 432 and eventually died - at Downpatrick.

The Ards Peninsula with it's rolling drumlins and protected coves forms a shelter for the waters of Strangford Lough.

Patrick Bronte, whose three daughters became great novelists, inspired them by tales of his youth in the Bann Valley. The quiet river valley from Banbridge to Rathfriland is nowadays called The Bronte Country.

Here is a concentration of delights for which you would motor many miles in other places - firm, clean beaches; shoals of sea fish and rivers full of game and coarse fish; championship-standard golf; two superb forest parks; two cathedrals; castles and gardens: boating. bird-watching, walking and pony trekking.

The Main Towns:

At Newcastle you step off the beach on to the mountain slopes - at the foot of Northern Ireland's highest peak, Slieve Donard (2,796 ft). You can step off the same five-mile beach on to Royal County Down Golf Course and its easier companion course.

Royal County Down Golf Course

The harbour is full of sailing boats and the Shimna river of salmon You can walk from one end of town to the other along the promenade, passing the Percy French memorial fountain (author of the famous 'Mountains of Mourne' song). The Tropicana has outdoor fun pools and an adventure playground. Exhibitions and films are shown at the adjacent Newcastle Centre. The recreation grounds include a bowling green children's boating pool, tennis and miniature golf, while beautiful Donard Park tempts you to walk by the cascading Glen River up into the heart of the mountains.

Graceful Downpatrick illustrates the North's history in architecture, with Irish Street, English Street and Scotch Street meeting at the town centre. The wide Georgian Mail leads past Down County Museum (and St Patrick Heritage Centre) up to Down Cathedral. St Patrick's grave is marked by a great block of Mourne granite in the cathedral graveyard.

Banbridge, on the Upper Bann river, is off the main Belfast to Dublin road. The wide main street is in three sections with an underpass in the middle: cut in 1834 to enable stage coaches to take the steep hill. The district's famous daughter, Helen Waddell, wrote that Banbridge had a skyline like a medieval town. In the square stands a delightful memorial: four polar bears gazing at Capt. Francis Crozier who died in the act of discovering the North-West Passage.

The Newry-Portadown canal follows the road and railway between Poyntz Pass and Scarva. There is a pleasant walk along the wide towpath.

Ballynahinch is a rural market town, where the County Down staghounds meet in Montalto park. There is golf at the Spa, but the spa waters no longer flow.

Dromore has a fine cathedral built 1661 in whinstone by Bishop Jeremy Taylor (1613-67), author of Holy Living; Holy Dying. He and Bishop Percy, 18th-century prelate and poet, are buried in the cathedral. The town has a Celtic cross and a splendid Norman motte on the banks of the Lagan river Old stocks in the market square are occasionally used - for imprisoning local brides and grooms before the wedding.

County Down Overview | Exploring County Down | Ards Peninsula | Mourne Mountains |
St. Patrick's Country |

Northern Ireland Homepage | Travel Tips  | Golf | Industrial Heritage | Walking, Hiking & Horseback | Activities | Calendar of Events | Transportation | Cuisine and Restaurants | Birdwatching | Fishing | Ancestral Heritage | County Antrim | County Armagh | City of Belfast | County Down | County Fermanagh | County Londonderry | County Tyrone | Tour Operators | InterKnowledge Home Page

Copyright (c) 1995-1997 interKnowledge Corp. All rights reserved.