Count Down coat of arms
Mountainous, coastal Co. Down was named for its county town, Downpatrick. Downpatrick, meanwhile, was named for its most famous resident, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick is purportedly buried in the cemetery at Down Cathedral, a 14th-century spired cathedral that overlooks the town from atop Cathedral Hill. It is believed the saint said his first mass at the humble Saul Church in Saul, east of Downpatrick, and eventually died there on March 17, 461, which is why St. Patrick's Day is now celebrated each March 17.
Down Cathedral, Co. Down
Beyond these very historic sites, a visit to Co. Down is all about its immense array of natural surroundings. The greatest of these are the Mourne Mountains, which spread across the southeast portion of the county, from Carlingford Lough to Dundrum Bay, and culminating in the highest point in Northern Ireland atop Slieve Donard, a whopping 849 metres up.
Cloughmore Stone, Slieve Martin, Co. Down
The Mournes have been proposed as the first National Park in Northern Ireland and walking through the craggy, granite hillsides, you might encounter the lonely Mourne Wall, a 35-km long stone wall built around the turn of the 20th century to define the local catchment area.
Hermitage, Tollymore Forest, Mourne Mountains, Co. Down
Strangford Lough is another place of incredible natural beauty in Co. Down being a popular place for both birding and scuba diving. The Mount Stewart House and Gardens is a beautiful 18th century, neoclassical manor estate situated on the eastern shore of the lake.
Mount Stewart, Co. Down
Co. Down is generally regarded as a G.A.A. county, with particularly a particularly strong Gaelic football team, which has one All-Ireland Championships, as well as dozens of other titles.
The Brontë family has roots in Co. Down, as Patrick Brontë – father to British writers Anne, Charlotte and Emily – emigrated from his homeland near Rathfriland and changed his surname from Brunty to Brontë. Artist John Butler Yeats was also from Co. Down, and golf prodigy Rory McIlroy is from Carryduff.
Castlewellan Lake and Castle, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down
Our 101 team have been working with local tourism, business, community and Council initiatives to bring you some of the best ways for you to live your connection to Down.
County Down has some pretty impressive seaside towns which are great year round but especially in the summer.