Right in the centre of 2 Areas of Outstanding Beauty - the Mountains of Mourne and the Ring of Gullion, Newry is a feast for the eyes surrounded by nature at its very best.
Legend has it that St Patrick planted a yew tree at the head of the strand of Carlingford Lough, which pointed towards the heavens for 700 years. The city’s name originates from this story, with the old name being Iuir Cinn Tra (The Head of the Strand), which eventually was revised and shortened to the word Newry.
Sandwiched between The Mourne Mountains and The Ring of Gullion, Newry itself is an historical Treasure trove.
Founded in 1144 as a Monastic settlement around a yew tree planted by Saint Patrick, it became Ulster's most important port following the opening of the Canal in 1742. Newry and Mournes Museum hosts many exhibitions reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the local area. Collections include Newry's Cistercian foundations, the building of a Merchant town and the first summit Canal in the British Isles.
The Newry Canal was the first summit level canal in the British Isles. It opened for traffic in March 1742. Eighteen miles in length, it extended through a series of locks from Newry to Whitecote Point, 2 km south of Portadown. The last lock before the canal joins the River Bann is known as Moenypenny's Lock.
The Moneypennys were lock keepers for 85 years and operated the lock gates. They also took note of the barges, which passed through the lock carrying a great variety of cargoes including Linen Cloth, Farm Produce, Coal, Grain and Flax Seed. However, with the growth of the Railway Network, the use of the Newry Canal began to decline and the last known commercial journey through the lock was in 1936.
Newry City Hall or The Hall over the River. Designed by William Batt, constructed in 1893, this was one of the last works of the Old Newry Town Commissioners. The most unusual feature about the building is that it is built on a three arched bridge astride the Clanrye River. The reason was, reputedly, to settle the rivalry between the people of Armagh and Down over in which County it should be sited.
Newry Cathedral is undoubtedly the most commanding building in the City Centre and is arguably the most important work executed by Newry's greatest native architect Thomas Duff. Built in 1829 it was the first Catholic Catheral opened after the granting of Catholic Emancipation. The interior marble work and Mosaics took five years with craftsmen coming from Italy to undertake the work.
St Patrick's Church of Ireland. This was the first Protestant Church to be built after the Reformation in Ireland and commands a panoramic view of the city below. The earliest part of the building was built by Sir Nicholas Bagenal in 1578. The church was almost destroyed in 1641 and was not fully restored until 1866. It is one of the oldest churches in Ireland still used for worship. Dean Jonathan Swift is said to have preached in this church during his visits to Newry. The headstones in the graveyard provide a fascinating insight into the characters of the 18th & 19th century town.
Newry for Shopping. Newry is the Shopper's haven boasting two large Shopping Centres: Buttercrane Shopping Centre and The Quays Shopping Centre. Both Shopping Centres are only a 5 minute walk from the Hotel.
Hill Street & Monaghan Street are also host to many boutiques and unique shops. Highly recommended for those of you who wish to 'Shop till they drop'.
For great value shopping why not visit Buttercrane Shopping Centre
The Heritage Trail takes you through the many attractions of Newry City. The long trail lasts about 1 hour 45 minutes, the short trail approximately 45 minutes.
Ideally you could spend a day wandering through Newry, visiting the many historical sights along the way. Pick up the heritage trail at Newry Tourist Information Centre and explore the history and heritage of the ancient town - now a city.
Newry Tourist Information is located in Bagenal's Castle - the sacred site of the Cistercian Abbey which was founded in 1153 by Patrick McLoughlin, king of the Cenel Eoghainn. In 1543 Arthur Magennis successfully petitioned Henry VIII to allow Newry Abbey to be converted for secular use as a collegiate Church.
This is a National Trust property in Bessbrook, Co Armagh. Open to the public, it is described as a "late 18th Century thatched house in gentrified vernacular style".
Built in the style of a cottage orne, this beautiful house is set in over 100 acres of beautiful parkland and woodland. The house itself is thatched by local unique Thatchers using Shannon reeds.
The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland was drafted in the Drawing Room (now known as the Treaty Room) of the house in 1800. Limited Opening - Treaty Room open 30th May, 12th & 13th July & 29th August from 2pm - 5.30pm
If you travel southeast along the coast road you will find yourself on the beautiful Cooley Peninsula. Once a part of the historical Province of Ulster the Peninsula lies in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland. It's a place of fresh green hillsides, woodland, mountains and myths. This was also the home of the giant Finn McCool.
Cooley Peninsula's capital is Carlingford which is full of character and one of the best preserved medieval villages in Ireland. Raided by the Vikings in the 8th and 9th Centuries, historical records show that the Vikings occupied Carlingford Lough. Today the inherent natural beauty can be equally appreciated on land or sea.
The popular song by Percy French has made The Mournes the best known mountains in Ireland. Slieve Donard is the largest of the mountains and from the top you can see the Isle of Man, the full length of Strangford Lough and Lough Neagh. The Mourne Mountains emerged 50 million years ago during the Ice Age.
The Silent Valley Reservoir was built to gather water from the Mourne Mountains and is now the main water supply source for most of County Down and a large part of Belfast. Ringed by mountains 'The Valley' located within the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, houses beautiful parkland, lakes and a pond. You will enjoy the peace and solitude of this mountain area with its unique landscapes and varied wildlife.
'Bloody Bridge’ originally a ford refers to a massacre at the site at the time of the 1641 rebellion. The bodies of slain prisoners were thrown over the bridge into the river, turning it red and so the river became known as the Bloody Bridge River. This is where the main walk into the Mourne Mountains starts and then takes you onto the 'Brandy Pad'.
During the 18th Century the coast from Newcastle south to Greencastle was notorious for smuggling Brandy, Wine, Tobacco, Tea and Silk entered via the Isle of Man and were conveyed over the Mournes to Hilltown along a path which became known as the Brandy Pad.
The Mourne Wall is a wall which was constructed to enclose a reservoir's catchment area in the Mourne Mountains. It was built between 1904 and 1922 by the Belfast Water Commissioners. The wall was crafted from natural granite stone using traditional dry stone walling techniques. On average the wall is about 1.5 metres high and 0.8 to 0.9 metres thick. It is 22 miles (35 km) long and passes over fifteen mountains.
The wall took 18 years to complete. Some people argue that the wall was quite useless as it fences off about 9,000 acres of barren and desolate mountains. However, it brought a lot of very welcome employment at the time, and the main purpose of enclosing the area was to isolate the catchment area from the effects of cattle and sheep on the water course.
South County Armagh, with its beautiful undulating countryside lies to the west of Newry. The legendary Ring of Gullion is steeped in Celtic mythology and this area is famed for its rich cultural heritage and the numerous prehistoric and early Christian sites.
The striking landscape of the Ring of Gullion is the result of the unique geology of the area. A ring of igneous rock has resulted in a distinctive range of peaks and the area is scattered with small farmsteads and historic monuments.
Slieve Gullion at dusk from the west
The mountain features in the epic poem Tain Bo Cuailnge. It is also suggested that this is the area where Cuchullain lived as a child. There are many local legends about Slieve Gullion involving the Cailleach Beara (a witch who transforms into a hare). Slieve Gullion also features in the Fenian Cycle, where a tale is told of Finn McCool being tricked by the Cailleach Beara into jumping into the Mountain's lake, from which he emerges an old and withered man. The Fianna force the Cailleach Beara to restore the erstwhile hero back to his former self but Finn never regains the true color of his hair, with it remaining white as an old man for the rest of his life.
It is here that Dean Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels and he couldn't have picked a more serene surround. Dean Swift's Well and Chair can be viewed along the Drumlack River before reaching the millpond ponds. With numerous nature trails and the beautiful walled gardens set in the shadow of Gosford Castle it is well worth a visit.
There is also a deer-park, heritage poultry and rare breeds of cattle and sheep in open paddocks to amuse the younger visitor, and is only 15 minutes from the hotel.
Take the walk up to the famous 40 tonnes 'Cloughmore' or 'Big' Stone. It is a spectacular remnant of The Ice Age, however local legend claims the giant Finn McCool placed it there. Set in the 4,000 acre Rostrevor Forest, there is a sharp rise from 30m to 500m above sea level. Take the breathtaking two mile forest drive with views over Carlingford Lough.
Armagh City is situated 20 miles north west of Newry. It is the Ecclesiastical Capital of Ireland and the seats of both Protestant and Catholic Archbishops. The mile long Mall is a good place to start your walkabout of Armagh.
Two museums are situated on the East Side of The Mall and if you veer off the west side and up Russell Street you will find Saint Patrick's Trian which will allow you to delve deeper into Saint Patrick's legacy. Gaze at the stars in Armagh Planetarium or discover the Navan Centre, the ancient capital and seat of the Kings of Ulster.
In the country roads around Armagh during the summer months the traditional game of Road Bowls is still played and certainly worth a look.
The Craigmore Viaduct is a railway bridge near Bessbrook, County Armagh, locally known as the 18 Arches. The bridge was designed by John Benjamin Macneill, an eminent Irish Civil Engineer, with construction beginning in 1849 for the Dublin and Belfast Juction Railway. The bridge was formally opened in 1852. It spans the valley of Camlough River. The viaduct consists of 18 arches of 60 ft span, the highest being 126ft, making Craigmore the highest viaduct in Ireland. It is around a quarter of a mile long and was constructed from granite stone blocks from the nearby Goraghwood quarry, which for many years supplied ballast to the Dublin & Belfast Junction Railway’s lines. The Dublin - Belfast railway line still crosses the bridge.
On 2 March 1989, a bomb damaged Craigmore Viaduct, it exploding just four minutes before a passenger train from Dublin was due to leave nearby Newry Station. A clearance operation had to be mounted and the railway line was closed and not reopened until 8 March 1989.
Downpatrick is one of Ireland's most ancient and historic towns. It takes its name from a dun (fort), which once stood on the hill that dominates the town and on which Down Cathedral stands. The old name of the town was Rath Celtair named after the fictional warrior of Ulster called Celtchar who resided there and who fought alongside Ulster King Conchobar mac Neasa. This name was changed to become Downpatrick due to the connection the town had with the Patron Saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick was reputedly buried here in 431 on Cathedral Hill, within the grounds of Down Cathedral. His grave is still a place of pilgrimage on St Patrick's Day. A visit to the purpose built Saint Patrick Visitor Centre is worthwhile, which lets you explore the legacy of St Patrick.
Walk through Tollymore Forest Park and see if you can spot the Oak Trees that are part of the Forest which was used for the interiors of the White Star liners including the 'Titanic' which was built in Belfast. See the barn dressed up to look like a church, stone cones atop gate piers and gothic-style gate arches.
Shimna River also has many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves with exotic trees such as monkey puzzle and eucalyptus.
The castle was built in the mid 13th century, replacing a still existant earthen motte to the West. Together with Carlingford Castle on the opposite shore, it commanded the narrow entrance to the lough. It was initially held by the de Burghs, Earls of Ulster. After an eventful history, it was granted to Sir Nicholas Bagenal in 1552, along with most of Mourne. The castle is a typical Norman Castle with towers and a curtain wall.
Greencastle is only a few minutes drive from Cranfield Beach, and was once known as the capital of Mourne. Greencastle Castle is a medieval fortress, and is well worth a visit.
Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen bears the name of its founder 'Thomas Ferguson' and has been offering Irish Linen to customers since 1854. Today there are still a few weavers weaving plain linen, but Thomas Ferguson is the only Irish Linen damask weaver still remaining in the whole of Ireland, weaving traditional damask table linen.
A visit to Thomas Ferguson's offers a rare opportunity to see Irish Linen at its various stages of Production - including design, weaving, specialist cutting and hemming or ornamenting. Factory tours are by appointment only.
The Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 between two rival clainants of the English, Scottish and Irish thrones between King William and King James. The battle, won by William was a turning point in James' unsuccessful attempt to regain the crown and ultimately helped ensure the continuation of Protestant supremacy in Ireland.
The battle took place on 1st July 1690 (in the old style Julian calendar) which is equivalent to 11th July (in new Gregorian calendar) and is now commemerated on 12th July.
The battle occurred just outside the town of Drogheda (situated approx 30 minutes from Newry) on Ireland's east coast. The armies stood on opposing sides of the River Boyne. William's forces defeated those of James who led an army of mostly raw recruits. The symbolic importance of this battle has made it one of the best-known battles in British and Irish History. It is a key part in Ulster Folklore and is still commemorated today.
Bessbrook Village lies about 3 miles west of Newry, founded in 1845 as a 'Model Village'. It takes its name from Elizabeth or 'Bess' Nicholson, wife of Joseph Nicholson whose family carried on a Linen business in the district from 1806 to 1845. The 'brook' comes from the stream which runs through the outskirts of the village.
Among the principle on which the village was based there was a philosophy of the "3 P's" - no Public House, no Pawn Shops & no need for Police. To this day there are still no Public Houses or Pawn Shops but there is a PSNI station.
At one time, Bessbrook Linen was among the finest in the world, and the Linen Mill provided most of the employment in the village. Tenement houses were constructed for the mill workers, many of which were os such good quality that they are still inhabited today. Each house had an allotment garden for growing vegetables for supply to the locals.
Bessbrook saw some of the worst violence in the Troubles, the Linen Mill was converted by the British Army into a military base and a helicopter landing area was extablished to supply other outposts in the area. At one stage the little village was reportedly the busiest heliport in Europe. On 25th June 2007 the British Army withdrew their military presence from Bessbrook and closed all their facilities leading to some recovery for the village.
Ross' Monument is found between Warrenpoint and Rostrevor. This commanding position was chosen as the place to honour Major General Robert Ross who fought in Europe and the American War of Independence. His monument erected in 1826, celebrates his victory over the American Forces in Bloadensburg in 1814 and his entry into the capital, Washington. He is reputed to have burnt down all the public buildings including the presidential mansion and to have eaten the presidents' breakfast having left in a hurry.
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