County Down Bed and Breakfast Accommodation
Down is a remarkable mix of well cultivated hills, the rugged Mountains of Mourne (and Slieve Donard in particular) to the south, and to the east, an extensive coastline, notably the Ards Peninsula which blocks the sea from beautiful Strangford Lough. Throughout the county, there are important archaeological sites and ancient monuments, as well as numerous sporting and leisure attractions.
Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast straddles Down and Antrim and is enjoying a boom period, with trendy social outlets and popular attractions such as Queen’s University, the Botanic Gardens, the City Hall and the multi-purpose Odyssey Stadium. Elsewhere, Newcastle, Bangor, Donaghadee, and Warrenpoint are some of the popular resorts along the coast, while further inland Newry and Lisburn - with their newly appointed city status - offer museums and first class shopping facilities.
History and Heritage
While Down has quite a number of ancient monuments, church ruins, castles and monastic sites that help record its past, it is perhaps best known as the home of St.Patrick, and a visit to Ego Patricius – a multimedia exhibition in Downpatrick on the life of Ireland’s patron saint – is enlightening.
Because it captures much of Northern Ireland’s cultural and industrial history, the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum at Cultra is an absolute ‘must see’. It is widely regarded as one of the very best museums in Ireland.
Sites to see
Down County Museum, North Down Heritage Centre, Nendrum Monastery, Legananny Dolmen, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, The Mourne Mountains, Strangford Lough, Downpatrick Cathedral, Hillsborough Castle, Mount Stewart house and gardens.
Sports and Leisure
With mountains like the Mournes, it’s hardly surprising to find mountaineering and hill walking/trekking are popular pursuits.
Strangford Lough is a haven for waterbased activities, especially sailing, and the large coastline has plenty to offer the water-sport enthusiast.
The Royal Co. Down Golf Course enjoys a world wide reputation.
Horse-racing fans can enjoy a day out at Downpatrick Race Course or Down Royal - outside Hillsbourugh.
Eat, Drink and Stay
Outside of Belfast, Down is widely regarded as having some of Northern Ireland’s finest restaurants. To name just a few, Buck’s Head Inn (Dundrum), The Plough Inn (Hillsborough), The Narrows (Portaferry), Sullivans (Holywood) and Sea Salt Bistro (Newcastle), Pier 36 (Donaghadee), The Lobster Pot (Strangford), The Mill at Ballydugan (Downpatrick) and the Old School House Inn (Comber).
Fine pubs (who also serve good food too) include Grace Neill’s in Donaghadee, Denvirs of Downpatrick, The Cuan in Strangford Village, Harry’s Barr (Banbridge) and the Slieve Croob Inn (near Castlewellan).
This is great touring country, by foot, bicycle or car, so there are sufficient B&Bs in Down to cope with the regular demand.
March Newry and Mourne Arts Feile
June: Mourne International Walking Festival
July: Historic Sham Fight, Scarva
August: Maiden of Mournes International Festival, Warrenpoint All-Ireland Busking Competition, Dundrum
September: Oyster Festival, Hillsborough
October: Haloween at the Gaol
Things you have to see or do
Down County Museum – located in the historic buildings of the 18th Century Gaol of Down, Downpatrick North
Down Heritage Centre – located at Bangor, Co. Down
Nendrum Monastery – on the banks of Strangford Lough
Legananny Dolmen – Northern Ireland’s best known Stone Age monument
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum – located at Cultra
The Mourne Mountains – in all their magnificence
Strangford Lough – popular tourist attraction noted for its fishing and the picturesque villages
Downpatrick Cathedral – burial ground of Saints Patrick, Columba and Brigid.
Hillsborough Castle – where the Belfast agreement of 1997 was signed
Mount Stewart house and gardens – full of wonderful artefacts and treasures and award winning gardens
Armagh and Down www.armaghanddown.com
Down County Museum www.downcountymuseum.com
Royal County Down Golf Club www.royalcountydown.org
Northern Ireland Tourist Board www.discovernorthernireland.com
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