Co. Down - ‘WHERE THE MOUNTAINS OF MOURNE SWEEP DOWN TO THE SEA’
Newcastle County Down, voted Northern
Ireland’s best kept town a few years ago, Newcastle offers activities
to interest all ages. Steeped in history, Newcastle has for many
years been one of the most popular resorts in the country, below
are just some of the major highlights which any visitor should
experience during a stay at this special and lively town.
here for the latest info on the Promenade
Mournes are one of the most scenic areas of Northern Ireland,
attracting tens of thousands of hill walkers every year. Their
natural beauty inspired the great 19th century entertainer Percy
French to pen the famous ballad Where the Mountains of Mourne
Sweep Down to the Sea.
The tallest peak and Northern Irelands
highest mountain, Slieve Donard (850m, 2,796 feet) rises majestically
to the south of the seaside resort of Newcastle.
Following a fundraising campaign
in 1991 the National Trust was able to purchase around 1,300 acres
(526ha) of the Mournes, including Slieve Donard and neighbouring
peak Slieve Commedagh. The mountains can be freely enjoyed by
Since 1993, a dedicated team of volunteers
has been creating a network of natural stone paths to help prevent
damage caused by the erosion of vegetation along main walking
Newcastle Tourist Information Centre
can provide information about walking in the Mournes or follow
a waymarked path beginning at Donard Car Park at the southern
end of Newcastle.
Look out for the 19th century ice house beside the Glen River
path. The ice house was used to keep meat and provisions cold
for the local landowners, the Annesley family.
The Mourne Wall
Part of the Mourne Wall runs between Slieve Donard and Slieve
Commedagh. The wall was crafted from natural stone using traditional
dry stone walling techniques. It passes over 15 summits, is 22
miles long and took 12 years to complete. It was built between
1910 and 1922 by the Belfast Water Commissioners to enclose the
water catchment in the Mournes.
Walkers who make it to the top of Donard will be rewarded with
spectacular views over the surrounding countryside and across
the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man.
Prehistoric burial cairns are located near the summits of both
Slieve Donard derives its name from Saint Domangard, a disciple
of Saint Patrick, who is said to have lived as a hermit on the
mountain, reportedly in one of the prehistoric burial cairns.
Wildlife and environment
The vegetation in the Mournes is principally dry heath, which
is rare in a European context.
The mountains are home to ravens, red grouse and peregrine falcons,
as well as the Irish Hare. Spring sees the arrival of wheatear
and the ring ouzel, which is particularly scarce in Northern Ireland.
Wet springs and flushes are home to some unusual invertebrates,
including the keeled skimmer, a nationally scarce dragonfly.
The summit heath vegetation includes some interesting species
such as dwarf willow and woolly fringe moss, and is the only known
site in Northern Ireland for two species of ground beetle and
a saw fly.
The Mournes are a proposed Special Area of Conservation and an
Area of Special Scientific Interest.
This is often used by ramblers as
their starting point for treks to the Mourne peaks. The park itself
boasts an extensive car park and picnic facilities, but its main
attraction is the various pitches where soccer and hockey matches
are played, but also where many families play during the summer,
whilst working off the effects of a day at the seaside and an
ice cream too many. Also beside the park is a golf driving range
where visitors are made most welcome. Glen River runs along one
side of the park, and this is used as a walkway to many sign-posted
treks, including the most famous trek of all, to Slieve Donard
itself, king of the Mourne peaks.
In the 1820’s Lord Annesley
created a new pier here primarily to function as a loading point
for the famous Mourne granite, which was extracted from the overlooking
hills. Blocks of this granite were used to build docks in Belfast
and Liverpool, as well as help construct the Albert memorial in
Today the harbour still holds some
fishing boats and also has pleasure crafts for water sports.
Granite Trail - Newcastle
Starting from Newcastle Harbour, the Granite Trail leads off to
Bogie Hill and up onto King Street. Here sees the start of the
olf Bogie Line, a cleared strip of forest on a 1 in 3 incline
up towards Millstone Mountain Quarry. The mature woods and forest
either side of your path are full of interest, flora and fauna
with views over the harbour and Dundrum Bay. At the top of Donard
Wood and over the stile follow the path past Millstone Mountain
Quarry and on to the viewpoint at Thomas's Mountain Quarry. For
maps of route telephone Newcastle Tourist Information Centre:
028 4372 2222
Click Here to Download
Granite Trail Brochure
St. Patrick’s Stream
This stream has great importance
as it marks the boundary of the ancient kingdom of Mourne. According
to legend, a rock on the stream’s banks is hewn with the impression
of St. Patrick’s hand, which the saint made when he bent down
to drink the water.
An isolated cleft in the cliffs above
Dundrum bay provide the rugged backdrop to a murder centuries
old. It is believed that a man called Armour murdered his father
after a row over a young girl on the way to the fair at Downpatrick.
When the man returned home he claimed he had left his father behind
in Downpatrick, but the fathers body was washed up at nearby St.Johns
Point and the son later admitted to killing him and flinging the
body into the sea at the spot now known as Armours Hole after
this grisly tale.
Although the name evokes images of
battles fought on this site, it is not known from where exactly
this beautiful yet wild coastal area derived its poignant name,
although the 1641 rebellion is often thought to be the impetus.
What is certain is that it’s beauty is widely appreciated by tourists
who flock to see the old ‘Brandy Pad’, called after the trade
of illegal brandy which was smuggled down this route and from
there onwards at the dead of night to Hilltown. The remains of
an ancient church and the old bridge which once carried the coast
road has made the bloody bridge a must see area.
Bloody Bridge and the Mourne Coastal Footpath can be found
along a scenic stretch of the Co Down coastline, bordered on one
side by the Irish Sea, and on the other by the foothills of the
Located about three miles south
of Newcastle, beside the Annalong road, and marks the beginning
of one of the most popular access routes into the Mournes for
hill walkers. It was declared an Area of Special Scientific Interest
Newry and Mourne District Council
has provided a car park, picnic tables and toilet facilities adjacent
to the site.
Alternatively for those not wishing
to walk into the mountains the Mourne Coastal Footpath (1.6 miles
long) provides access to secluded areas of coastline ideal for
picnics. Excellent views can be had across Dundrum Bay and, on
a clear day, to the Isle of Man. The name Bloody Bridge refers
to a massacre at the site in 1641.
The Brandy Pad
The track leading through Bloody Bridge is the start of the Brandy
Pad, an old smugglers route. Brandy and other spirits, wine,
spices, tobacco, tea, coffee, sugar and silk made their way to
the secluded coves of the Mourne coast via the Isle of Man, which
was outside the control of Customs and Excise at that time. The
contraband was unloaded from ships and carried on ponies through
the mountains to the village of Hilltown.
The Shepherds Pass
Bloody Bridge is located in the parish of Ballaghanery Upper.
Balaghanery means the shepherds pass.
Ancient church ruins
The ruins of St Marys Church can be found along the route
of the Mourne Coastal Footpath. The church is reputed to have
been one of the first Christian churches in Northern Ireland.
All that remains today are the foundations of a nave and a small
Plants and wildlife
Fulmars and black guillemots both breed at sites along the Mournes
coast and Manx shearwater and gannets can be observed fishing
out to sea. The common lizard, the only reptile native to Ireland,
has been observed at both sites.
Several noteworthy butterfly species have also been recorded,
including the green hairstreak, the dark green fritillary and
The areas dry heath habitat of western gorse and bell heather
is recognised as being of European importance.
If you cross the Tipperary bridge(or
mile bridge) you will come to the Tipperary woods. This is part
of the Ulster Way long distance footpath and unsurprisingly is
a very popular walkway.
County Down Golf Club
Newcastle can lay claim to a course
which many believe to be among the most beautiful and the most
competitive courses in the whole world, indeed many professional
players have included it as among their top ten courses in the
globe. With this in mind it is obvious why the golf club continues
to be a prominent attraction for visitors to Newcastle.
Newcastle- A Natural Beauty
Despite the above information, there
is little doubt that the greatest attraction of Newcastle is not
the history, nor the various arcades or parks, or even the golf
club. Rather, it is the unique natural beauty of the town which
makes it stand out as a jewel in the prize winning coast of Down.
Various wildlife including the mysterious raven and Peregraine
Falcon are found in the nearby slopes and on the slopes themselves
many beautiful plants vie for attention with the more rugged heather
The combination of a long, clean,
tidy beach to one side and the magnificent mountains of Mourne
to the other gives the place a special feeling which many poets
and artists have tried to convey in word and painting. However
you can only truly appreciate the unparalleled beauty of the town
by experiencing it first hand. Newcastle remains peerless as a
busy coastal resort blessed with the brooding mountains of Mourne
still sweeping down to the sea.
Chamber of Commerces unique Places That Time Forgot project
was officially launched
Mountains of Mourne,
By Percy French. Click here to listen to the music! (Midi file)
William Percy French, celebrated
poet, painter and composer must surely have had the picturesque
town of Newcastle in mind when he penned his celebrated verse
of exile ‘where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’.
The imposing presence of the purple peaked Mournes looms large
over the town and provides a breathtaking background to this bustling
Capital of the coast.
Mary this London's a wonderful sight
With people here workin' by day and by night
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat
But there's gangs of them diggin' for gold in the street
At least when I asked them that's what I was told
So I just to a hand at this diggin' for gold
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
I believe that when writin' a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed
Well if you'll believe me, when asked to a ball
They don't wear no top to their dresses at all
Oh I've seen them meself and you could not in truth
Say that if they were bound for a ball or a bath
Don't be startin' them fashions, now Mary McCree
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
There's beautiful girls here, oh never you mind
With beautiful shapes nature never designed
And lovely complexions all roses and cream
But let me remark with regard to the same
That if that those roses you venture to sip
The colors might all come away on your lip
So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waitin' for me
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.
Sunday Church Services:
Our Lady of Assumption, Roman
Services - Saturday 7.3Opm Sunday
8.20am, 10am,11.30 am and 10am at St. Patrick's, Bryansford
Presbyterian, Main Street,
Services - Sunday (10am June - August)
11.30am & 7.00pm
St. John's Church of Ireland
-The Rock, Central Promenade
Services - Sunday 8.3Oam Holy Communion
11.00am Morning Prayer (2nd, 4th & 5th Sunday) 6.00pm Evening
Baptist - Bryansford Road,
Services - Sunday 11.00am & 6.30pm
- Local doctor & surgery Tel.
- Police Station Tel. 028437 23583
- First Trust Bank Tel. 028437 23476
- Northern Bank Tel. 028437 23226