Further afield (if visiting for a week or more and based in Kilkeel)
Ardglass, with its magnificent harbour, is one of the three major fishing ports in Northern Ireland. Water based sports and sea angling are popular. Ardglass has benefited from the new Ardglass Marina 842332 Complex opened in 1996, with berthing facilities for over 80 vessels, perfect for exploring the South Down coast and onto the rushing waters of Strangford Lough.
Jordan’s Castle is a ruined 15th century tower house, one of several in Ardglass, underlining the town’s historic importance to the life of the district.
Opening times: July/August Tues-Sat 10.00am-6.00pm, Sun 2.00-6.00pm
Directions: between Kildare and Quay St, entrance from Quay St, Ardglass
Tel: Historic Monuments (028) 9054 3034
Ardtole Church is a ruined medieval church situated on a hilltop overlooking the Irish Sea and the isle of Man.
Directions: ¾ mile NE of Ardglass, east of A2
Tel: Historic Monuments (028) 9054 3034
This historic town has much to offer the visitor, including the town centre heritage trail, Solitude Park, Leisure Centre, cinema, art gallery, river walk and great shopping opportunities. In addition there are links to the linen industry and the Bronte Homelands. Throughout the year many events are held in Banbridge, including busking competitions, family fun days, concerts, etc.
Town Centre Heritage Trail
The Town Centre Heritage Trail takes in the Market House, The Downshire Bridge, The ‘Cut’, Old Technical College, Avonmore House, Crozier Monument, Old RIC/RUC Barracks, Dunbar Memorial School, Joseph Scriven Memorial and Banbridge Courthouse. Further information available from TIC.
Tel: (028) 4066 0600
Solitude Park is a natural gem in the heart of Banbridge. A perfect place to stretch your legs, have a picnic, or simply to relax and enjoy the tranquillity of the River Bann. Free parking, children’s play park, viewing deck, public toilets, canoe steps, access to river, dogs welcome on a lead.
Opening times: Apr-Oct daily 8.00am-9.00pm, Nov-Mar daily 8.00am-6.00pm
Downshire Road, Banbridge
Opened in April 2001, Banbridge Leisure Centre is an ultra-modern leisure facility designed to offer a wide range of leisure and sporting activities for the whole family.
Facilities include: 25mt deck level swimming pool; 50mt enclosed flume; learner pool; toddlers open pool; leisure pool area featuring a spa bath, lounger bed, bubble pad and water fountain; sauna and steam room; 6 court main hall; game courts; fitness suite; soft play area; cafeteria.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 7.00am-10.30pm, Sat 8.00am-5.30pm, Sun 12.00 noon-5.00pm
Tel: (028) 4062 8800
Please note not all facilities within the Leisure Centre are open during these hours and times are subject to change during holiday periods.
Banbridge District Council Arts Service provides support for local arts groups as well as developing a programme of activities and events for local venues which include the Iveagh Theatre, the Old Town Hall, the Bronte Centre and the FE McWilliam Gallery. Visitors have the opportunity to develop new skills or improve skills as well as listen to the talents of others, through workshops, outdoor theatre, exhibitions, craft fairs and festivals.
Tel: (028) 4066 0605 Website: www.banbridge.gov.uk
Iveagh Movie Studios
26 Downshire Place, Banbridge, BT32 3DF
Cinema and live theatre. Car park, snack bar and nearby restaurants and pubs.
Tel: (028) 4066 2666
F E McWilliam Gallery & Studio
200 Newry Rd, Banbridge, BT32 3NB
The F E McWilliam Gallery celebrates the work of the internationally renowned sculptor Frederick Edward McWilliam, who was born in Banbridge in 1909. A contemporary and friend of Henry Moore, McWilliam made his name in London and established a reputation as one of the most important sculptors of his generation. Facilities include the Tourist Information Centre, retail outlet stocking local art and craft, café, wheelchair access, free parking.
Opening times: Mon-Sat 10.00am-5.00pm, Sun (June, July & August only) 1.00-5.00pm
Tel: (028) 4062 3322 Website: www.femcwilliam.com
Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen
54 Scarva Rd, Banbridge, BT32 3QD
Ferguson’s Irish Linen was established in 1854 and are widely recognised as being the finest of Irish weavers. Enjoy the linen experience by taking a factory tour, seeing how Irish linen is woven and finished. Ferguson’s also have a retail outlet where visitors have the opportunity to purchase from a wide range of products.
Opening times: Mon-Thurs 9.00am-4.30pm, Fri 9.00am-12.15pm, please phone for summertime opening hours.
Factory tours must be booked in advance. Admission:
Tel: (028) 4062 3491 Website Online Shop: www.fergusonsirishlinen.com
Banbridge Riverside Walk is a flat, linear walk which runs from Banbridge Leisure Centre to the Dunbar Road. It is around 1 mile return and follows a tree lined walk on the western bank of the Bann.
Directions: join the walk at Banbridge Leisure Centre, located on Downshire Road, adjacent to the town centre. Free parking on site.
Town Centre Shopping
Banbridge has everything you need for a great shopping day out. There are a distinctive mix of stores, from specialist retailers offering unique brand names and independent fashion to traditional food providers selling quality local produce. The compact and convenient town centre has ample free and low cost car parking close to the shops.
The Outlet Shopping
Opened in April 2007, this award winning shopping village is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for your favourite brands at discounted prices. The Outlet has a huge choice of 50 plus stores with brands including Jaeger, Armani, Nike Factory Store, Next Clearance, M&S and GAP Outlet. 1500 free parking spaces, Visitor Services Centre, Euro widely accepted.
Opening times: Mon-Wed 10.00am-6.00pm, Thur & Fri 10.00am-9.00pm, Sat 9.00am-6.00pm, Sun 1.00-6.00pm, closed Easter Sun and Christmas Day.
Castlewellan is situated between the Mournes and Slieve Croob Hill. The Castle is Scottish Baronial style and was owned by the powerful Annesley family who built the town during the 18th century. The Castle is now a Conference Centre. Popular fair days in May and November situated in its Italianate square bring thousands to Castlewellan, as well as the annual Agricultural Show in July.
Castlewellan Forest Park
Set within a mixed woodland setting, Castlewellan Forest Park offers a wide range of walks and outdoor facilities including fishing, nature watching, canoeing, pony trekking, rambling and photography. The “Peace Maze” is the largest hedged maze in the world, taking approx 1 hour to solve. Facilities available: tearoom, sculpture trail, orienteering course, Memories Tour in August. Guided tours are available in summer by appointment.
Opening times: 10.00am-dusk.
Admission: car £ , motorcycle £ , minibus £ , coach £ , over 60’s £
Directions: from Newcastle take A50 to Castlewellan. At roundabout turn right to top of hill, turn left following signpost into forest park.
Tel: (028) 4377 8664 Website: www.forestserviceni.gov.uk
A good example of a small stone built farmstead enclosure or cashel of the early Christian period, in an area with many cashels. Inside is a souterrain (accessible) stone built underground passage for refuge in times of trouble.
Tel: Historic Monuments (028) 9054 3034
Directions: 2 miles south west of Castlewellan, close to by-road off A25 to Rathfriland (signposted).
Ancient city of Down. Downpatrick is the administrative centre of Historic Down District and, with a population of over 10,000, has the highest populous in Down.
St Patrick Centre
Market St, Downpatrick
The Centre is built below St Patrick’s reputed burial site and presents an authentic view of St Patrick exploring his through his own words and in the context of the period. The centre houses a shop, restaurant and Downpatrick’s Tourist Information Centre.
Opening times: Oct-Mar Mon-Sun 10.00am-5.00pm, Apri/May/Sept Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.00pm, Sun 10.00am-5.00, June-Aug Mon-Sat 9.30am-7.00pm, Sun 10.00am-6.00pm.
Tel: (028) 4461 9000 Website: www.saintpatrickcentre.com
Down Cathedral & St Patrick’s Grave
English St, Downpatrick
The fine 19th century Gothic Cathedral is built on the Hill of Down, one of the holiest Christian sites in Ireland. Its graveyard contains the traditional burial place of St Patrick, Bridget and Colmcille.
Opening times: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.00pm, Sun 2.00-5.00pm
Admission: donations required for guided tours by prior arrangement.
Directions: continue to top of Market St, Downpatrick, turn left at traffic lights, turn left again at next set of traffic lights and continue to end of English St. Down Cathedral is situated at end of street.
Tel: (028) 4461 4922
Down County Museum
The Mall, Downpatrick, BT30 6AH
This former gaol and military barracks, where famous United Irishman Thomas Russel (The Man from God Knows Where) was hanged in 1803, now houses the St Patrick Heritage Centre, telling the story of Ireland’s Patron Saint and the area’s strong links to the founding of Christianity in Ireland.
The Museum complex also contains a restored Governor’s Residence where visitors can see fascinating displays about life in earlier times, as well as a reconstruction of 18th century cells where prisoners were held before transportation to Australia.
Opening times: June-Sept Mon-Fri 10.00am-5.00pm, Sat & Sun 2.00-5.00pm, Oct-May Tues-Fri 10.00am-5.00pm, Sat 2.00-5.00pm
Directions: continue to top of Market St, Downpatrick, turn left at traffic lights, turn left again at next set of traffic lights and continue along English St. Down County Museum is situated on the right.
Tel: (028) 4461 5218 Website: www.downcountymuseum.com
Most of this substantial Cistercian Abbey is now in ruins, but the east end of the church, with its early English lancet windows, chapter house and refectory remain as witness to its great days of piety.
Opening times: Apr-Sept Tues-Sat 10.00am-7.00pm, Sun 2.00-7.00pm, Oct-Mar Sat 10.00am-1.30pm.
Directions: take A7 towards Crossgar, turn left at Abbey Lodge Hotel following signpost for Inch Abbey. Reach by lane on left, car park available.
Tel: Historic Monuments (028) 90543034
Down Leisure Centre
Market St, Downpatrick
Leisure facilities include swimming pool, squash courts, games room.
Directions: situated on Market st, opposite Rathkeltair House.
Tel: (028) 4461 3246
Down Civic Arts Centre
Irish St, Downpatrick
Should you wish to listen to classical music or browse through the many exhibitions held in the district, look no further than the Arts Centre, housed in the old Town Hall.
Directions: at the top of Market St turn left. Down Civic Arts Centre is on right hand side.
Tel: (028) 4461 5283 Website: www.downartscentre.com
The historic centre of the village contains significant Georgian architecture. A prominent feature of the east and south approaches to Hillsborough is a 5-mile wall which encloses the “Park Dam”, an artificial lake and the forest surrounding it.
Castle and Gardens
Main Street, Hillsborough
Formerly the home of the Governor of Northern Ireland, the 18th century mansion is now the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. See the State Drawing Room, Dining Rooms and the furniture and silver from HMS Nelson. Within the grounds is Europe’s largest rhododendron bush. Extensive rose garden and lake-side walks.
Opening times: every Sat in May, June and August. Tours available (pre-booked).
Tel: (028) 92689406
The Square, Hillsborough
Originally a Georgian market house, it was used as a courthouse from 1810 with the Grand Jury meeting in the upper room. The building is now used and exhibitions and functions.
Built in 1650, Hillsborough Fort can be accessed through wrought iron gates across the square from the courthouse.
A small village situated at the Counties Down/Armagh border, is famous for the location of the “Sham Fight” Pageant on 13th July every year. Visitors flock to Scarva to watch marching bands, a re-enactment of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, enjoy side stalls and entertainment.
Scarva Visitor Centre, Tearooms & Newry Canal Towpath
Is situated on the banks of the Newry-Portadown Canal adjacent to the original basis. Display boards within the Centre help to explain the building of the Canal, its trade and Scarva’s role within this. The Centre provides a pleasant atmosphere in which to browse or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in the adjoining tearoom. Walk along the tranquil canal towpath, a haven of plants and animals. During the summer Sunday afternoon band concerts take place at the nearby bandstand. Seating and wheelchair access available.
Opening times: Apr-Oct incl Tues-Fri 12-00 noon-5.00pm, Sat & Sun 2.00-5.00pm
Tel: (0280) 3883 2163
Exploris is Northern Ireland’s only aquarium and seal rescue centre. Come face to face with hundreds of native fish and invertebrates, normally only seen by divers braving the chilly waters of the Irish Sea.
Tel: (028) 4272 8062
near Strangford, BT30 7LS
Within this beautiful 820 acre walled estate you will find woodland walks, an exotic sunken garden and paths that open onto the tranquil shores of Strangford Lough. Attractions include an adventure playground, tea-room, gift and second-hand bookshop, and extensive walking, cycling and horseriding trails.
Opening times: grounds: 1 Jan-31 March 10.00am-4.00pm daily, 1 Apr-30 Sept 10.00am-8.00pm daily, 1 Oct-31 Oct 10.00am-5.00pm, 1 Nov-31 Dec 10.00am-4.00pm. Open Bank Holiday Mondays and all Public Holidays in Northern Ireland incl 17 March.
Admission: please contact property directly for admission rates.
Directions: from Downpatrick take A25 to Strangford. Castle Ward is 7 miles from Downpatrick and is 1.5 miles from Strangford. Castle Ward is signposted off to the left before Strangford Village.
Tel: (028) 4488 1204 Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ni
This 18th century mansion was the home of Lord Castlereagh, Foreign Secertary during the Napoleonic Wars. Among its furnishings are 22 chairs used at the Congress of Vienna. The gardens are exceptional, where lush, exotic plant species thrive in a sub-tropical microclimate. There is a flamboyant Italian garden, a Spanish garden with a summer house, Celtic shamrock garden and an exuberant sunken garden.
Tel: (028) 4278 8387 Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ni
Blue Flag Beach
Clanmaghery Road, Tyrella, BT30 8SU
With its miles of sandy beach, sparkling clean water and walks through the dunes, Tyrella Beach and Dune Conservation Area is a firm favourite with holiday makers. Tyrella has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award from 1997 and the Green Coast Award in 2008 (inaugural year) in recognition of high levels of beach cleanliness, safety, water quality and management. It has also been recommended by the Good Beach Guide as safe for bathing. Popular for beach sports outside of summer season. Beach Centre, gift shop, disabled access.
Opening times: open all year. Amenities and lifeguard service summer season only.
Admission: car £ , motorcycle £ , minibus £ coach £
Directions: Tyrella beach is situated on the A2 Killough to Clough Road, 11km from Downpatrick and 8km from Newcastle.
Tel (0280) 4482 8333