Self catering accommodation Newcastle County Down, Northern Ireland

NEWCASTLE 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.

Click here for the latest info on the Promenade

The 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 Ireland’s 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 all.

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 routes.

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.

Ice house
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.

Spectacular views
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 remains
Prehistoric burial cairns are located near the summits of both mountains.

Hermit
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.



Donard Park

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.

Newcastle Harbour
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 London.

Today the harbour still holds some fishing boats and also has pleasure crafts for water sports.

The 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.

Armours Hole

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.


The Bloody Bridge

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 Mourne Mountains.

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 in 1995.

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 Shepherd’s Pass
Bloody Bridge is located in the parish of Ballaghanery Upper. Balaghanery means the shepherd’s pass.
Ancient church ruins
The ruins of St Mary’s 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 chancel.

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 grayling.
The area’s dry heath habitat of western gorse and bell heather is recognised as being of European importance.


Tipperary Woods

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.

Tiger Woods a regular visitor to Royal County DownRoyal 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 and bog.

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.

Sporting Activities in the Newcastle area:

  • Golf at Royal Co. Down Golf Club
  • Horse-riding
  • Angling
  • Swimming
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Hill walking
  • Fishing
 

Areas of Local Interest:

Dundrum Bay and the Mournes
     

NEWCASTLE Chamber of Commerce’s 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.

Newcastle beach and the MournesOh 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 Catholic

Services - Saturday 7.3Opm Sunday 8.20am, 10am,11.30 am and 10am at St. Patrick's, Bryansford

Presbyterian, Main Street, Newcastle

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 Prayer

Baptist - Bryansford Road, Newcastle

Services - Sunday 11.00am & 6.30pm

Useful Telephone numbers

  • Local doctor & surgery Tel. 028437 23221
  • Police Station Tel. 028437 23583
  • First Trust Bank Tel. 028437 23476
  • Northern Bank Tel. 028437 23226 Self Catering Apartments Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant Home Bakery about the Strand

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