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County Down Northern Ireland | Things to See and Do

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County Down Northern Ireland | Things to See and Do

Scrabo Tower 

Rostrevor and Kilbroney Park

Castlewellan Forest Park 

Mount Stewart 

Downpatrick – for the reported burial place of Saint Patrick

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

Strangford Lough 

Mourne Mountains 

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Murlough Bay and Nature Reserve 

Scrabo Tower 

Scrabo Tower is located to the west of Newtownards in County Down, Northern Ireland. Built in the 1850s as a memorial to the Marquess of Londonderry it was originally and formally known as the 'Londonderry Monument'. The turreted tower is a noted landmark and stands 540 feet (160 m) above sea level and is 125 feet (38 m) high.

The landmark, which is visible from most of north Down, was built above Newtownards in 1857 as a memorial to Charles Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry who was one of the Duke of Wellington's generals during the Napoleonic Wars. The 3rd Marquess, or "Fighting Charlie" as he was also known, inherited the title and family seat of Mount Stewart after his brother, the 2nd Marquess, committed suicide. The 2nd Marquis is better known as Viscount Castlereagh, the politician who served a term as Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

The tower houses two floors of displays, with access to a viewing level via a climb of 122 steps. In April 2014, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said that the tower had suffered "serious water ingress", which had damaged the electricity supply, and citing concerns for visitor safety, advised that the tower would close to visitors. By 2015, the tower opened occasionally, and by July 2017 was fully reopened to the public.

Scrabo Country Park, in which the tower stands is also open to the public, and has several woodland walks and parkland through Killynether Wood. The view from the hill extends across Strangford Lough, scattered with its many islands, to the Mountains of Mourne and the Scottish coast. Scrabo Golf Club is overlooked by the tower and park.

Rostrevor and Kilbroney Park

Rostrevor is an amazing town to visit - it is located in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is home to many beautiful locations to visit... In the town itself there are some lovely pubs, takeaways and great cafes! (we had loads of tea there!). 

As you walk out of the town you cross a bridge and on your left is the Fairy Glen, a wonderful path up along the river - you can also enter the Kilbroney Forest park from here and explore the grounds, see the CS Lewis Trail and if feeling adventurous, head up the climb to the Kilbroney park where the Cloughmore stone sits. Here you will have amazing views back over the town, Ross Monument, Rostrevor Forest and Kilbroney, the Mourne Mountains, Carlingford lough - actually across a good bit of County Down! :-)

Rostrevor is known to be a village and townland in county Down in Northern Ireland, it is within Newry, Mourne and Down District. Rostrevor lies at the foot of Slieve Martin on the coast of Carlingford Lough. One of the several interesting things that make this village and townland more beautiful is the Kilbroney River that flows through it.

There are different suggestions behind the origins of the name "Rostrevor". The second part of the name "Trevor" came from the name of Sir Edward Trevor who settled in the area in the early 17th century and was then succeeded by his son Marcus Trevor who later on became Viscount Dungannon. The first part of the name which is "Ros" is believed to come from the name of Edward Trevor's wife who was called "Rose".

There are different attractions that tourists would visit in Rostrevor, there is "the big stone" which is located nearby Cloughmore and perched on the slopes of Slieve Meen .

This stone which is also referred to as "Cloughmore Stone" was placed there by the retreating glaciers during the last Glacial Maximum although there are some legends which people believe that say that the stone was thrown by a giant from the Cooley Mountains on the other side of Cloughmore Lough and this legend also says that walking seven times around this stone will bring you good luck!

Another attraction in Rostrevor is Kilfeaghan Dolmen which is situated on the main Kilkeel to Newry road which is only three-quarter miles from Rostrevor. This is believed to be the biggest in Ireland and estimated to weigh between 35 to 40 tons.

Adding to the list of places to visit in Rostrevor, there is also the old church that stands in the graveyard on the Kilbroney Road and there is also the Bell of Bronach in the village's Catholic church which was believed to scare the passers at night during the stormy weathers.

There are two rivers in this village and that is another thing that attracts people to it because who out there does not enjoy the idea of sitting, walking or even living by the river? Almost nobody.

The Ross Monument is also one of the important attractions in Rostrevor which we should shed the lights on. This monument has been there on Shore Road and was erected in 1836 and restored once again in 2008. This monument was instructed to honor Major General Robert Ross who fought in both Europe and America and it was also built to celebrate the victory of the American Forces at Bladensburg. Ross Monument is situated where Robert Ross intended to build his retirement home.

Among the important places that one could also visit when it comes to Rostrevor, there is the Fairy Glen which is at the Kilbroney Park Entrance 

 and check the Narnia Trail which is also located inside and one of the places that families enjoy, adults and kids

Castlewellan Forest Park 

Castlewellan Forest Park is located in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland. It contains the national Arboretum of Northern Ireland, started in 1740, which contains trees from Asia, North and South America, and Australasia.

This magnificent collection of trees and shrubs, set in beautiful surroundings, also incorporates fountains, ponds, ornamental greenhouses and broad sweeping vistas.

In terms of size, age and condition of the trees, this collection ranks among the top three arboretums in the British Isles and the finest in Ireland. It includes:

20 oldest existing specimens in the British Isles

42 ‘champion’ trees of the British Isles

50 ‘champion’ trees of Ireland

The peace maze located in the park was constructed between 2000 and 2001. It contains 6000 yew trees planted by volunteers from Northern Ireland. It was the longest permanent hedge maze in the world until July 2007, when the Pineapple Garden Maze in Wahiawa, Hawaii was extended.

The Castlewellan Gold Leyland cypress was developed in the park from a mutant tree. It was selected by the park director, John Keown, and named Cupressus macrocarpa 'Keownii' in 1963. The original specimen is located in the ornamental gardens.

Castlewellan Castle is a Scottish baronial castle built by the Annesley family between 1856 and 1858. It is close to the entrance of the arboretum and overlooks Castlewellan Lake. The castle is now used as a Christian conference centre.

Mount Stewart 

Next time you visit Northern Ireland, take a few hours to tour Mount Stewart Gardens House.

Located just a few miles from Newtownards, this 100-acre state has had several prominent owners through the decades; it was the home of the Marquesses of Londonderry until the house was given to the National Trust in the 1970s. The house, constructed between 1820 and 1839, looks quite intimidating with its columns and stone construction, but its exterior has been softened by the addition of rare plants, rippling lakes, and walking paths. Most Mount Stewart Gardens House sightseeing involves taking a quiet stroll through its sprawling gardens, spending time with your loved ones, and marveling at the beauty of nature.

Downpatrick – for the reported burial place of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick is reputed to be buried at the site of Down Cathedral (Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity), Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland. It is a Church of Ireland cathedral that stands on the site of a Benedictine Monastery built in 1183. A stone of Mourne granite commemorates the resting place of Saint Patrick who is thought to have died in 461. Saint Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland and Saint Patrick's day is celebrated in Ireland and around the world on 17th March each year. Saint Patrick was a fifth Century Christian missionary. When he was about the age of 16, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Roman Britain and was taken to Ireland where he lived as a slave. He lived there for 6 years, as a shepherd until he escaped and returned to Britain. He was to return to Ireland after becoming a cleric in later life and became the first Bishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. He is therefore considered the founder of Christianity in Ireland. He was revered as the patron Saint of Ireland as early as the 7th Century. The Shamrock has become a symbol of Ireland since legend has it that St Patrick used its three leaves to symbolise the Holy Trinity in his teachings. Saint Patrick is also accredited in myth and legend as ridding Ireland of its snakes. He reputedly chased them into the sea after they had attacked him during a 40 day fast. However, Naturalist and all around party-pooper, Nigel Monaghan, of the National Museum of Ireland claims, "At no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to banish".

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

The Ulster Transport Museum in Holywood or Cultra - is just outside Belfast (11 KM) and is part of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum - which is split into two sections. This place is so big - you will need 2 days to fully appreciate it! 

It is an impressive Belfast Museum - the Ulster Transport and Folk Museum was created when the Folk Museum and Transport museum merged in 1967.

Strangford Lough 

Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. Drone Footage

Mourne Mountains 

Slieve Bearnagh is one of the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland. It has a height of 739 metres (2,425 ft).  Its summit is crowned by two groups of jagged tors with a gap between them, giving it a distinctive shape. The Mourne Wall crosses the summit of Slieve Bearnagh east to west.

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Over the past five years, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens has been transformed both inside and out. The stunning State Rooms have been elegantly represented, with the introduction of new guided tours for everyone, whilst the gardens have been beautifully reimagined with lots to explore for the whole family. We've also got a brand new cafe, tea room and shop as well as Ireland's first Clore Learning Centre. 

There's something for everyone here at Hillsborough Castle. Come and explore. 

 

The restoration and re-presentation of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens was made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Mark Pigott KBE KSTJ, Garfield Weston Foundation, the Clore Duffield Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and other generous donors.

Murlough Bay and Nature Reserve 

Murlough Nature Reserve in Co Down is located close to Dundrum and Newcastle, in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains. It is owned and managed by the National Trust. Its 6000 year old sand dune system is a home to many rare plants, birds, moths and butterflies and the coastline is frequented by the common Grey Seal. Murlough is a Blue Flag beach with a beautiful view of Slieve Donard, the highest of the Mourne Mountains. A long boardwalk leads from the visitor's carpark right to the beach.

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