County Down (Irish: Contae an Dúin) is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, in the northeast of the island of Ireland. It covers an area of 2,448 km2 (945 sq mi) and has a population of 531,665. It is also one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland and is within the province of Ulster. It borders County Antrim to the north, the Irish Sea to the east, County Armagh to the west, and County Louth across Carlingford Lough to the southwest.
Contae an Dúin
Coontie Doon/Countie Doun
Coat of arms
Absque Labore Nihil (Latin)
"Nothing Without Labour"
|Established||early 16th century|
|• Total||952 sq mi (2,466 km2)|
|Highest elevation||2,790 ft (850 m)|
|Time zone||UTC±0 (GMT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BST)|
|Contae an Dúin is the Irish name, Countie Doun and Coontie Doon are Ulster Scots spellings.|
In the east of the county is Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula. The largest town is Bangor, on the northeast coast. Three other large towns and cities are on its border: Newry lies on the western border with County Armagh, while Lisburn and Belfast lie on the northern border with County Antrim. Down contains both the southernmost point of Northern Ireland (Cranfield Point) and the easternmost point of Ireland (Burr Point).
County Down takes its name from dún, the Irish word for dun or fort, which is a common root in Gaelic place names (such as Dundee, Dunfermline and Dumbarton in Scotland and Donegal and Dundalk in Ireland). The fort in question was in the historic town of Downpatrick, originally known as Dún Lethglaise ("fort of the green side" or "fort of the two broken fetters").
During the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–1691) the county was a centre of Protestant rebellion against the rule of the Catholic James II. After forming a scratch force the Protestants were defeated by the Irish Army at the Break of Dromore and forced to retreat, leading to the whole of Down falling under Jacobite control. Later the same year Marshal Schomberg's large Williamite expedition arrived in Belfast Lough and captured Bangor. After laying siege to Carrickfergus Schomberg marched south to Dundalk Camp, clearing County Down and much of the rest of East Ulster of Jacobite troops.
The county has a coastline along Belfast Lough to the north and Carlingford Lough to the south (both of which have access to the sea). Strangford Lough lies between the Ards Peninsula and the mainland. Down also contains part of the shore of Lough Neagh. Smaller loughs include Lough Island Reavy.
There are several islands off the Down coast: Mew Island, Light House Island and the Copeland Islands, all of which lie to the north of the Ards Peninsula. Gunn Island lies off the Lecale coast. In addition, there are a large number of small islands in Strangford Lough.
County Down is where, in the words of the famous song by Percy French, "The mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea", and the granite Mourne Mountains continue to be renowned for their beauty. Slieve Donard, at 849 m (2,785 ft), is the highest peak in the Mournes, in Northern Ireland and in the province of Ulster. Another important peak is Slieve Croob, at 534 m (1,752 ft), the source of the River Lagan.
Places of interest
- An area of County Down is known as the Brontë Homeland (situated between Rathfriland and Banbridge, where Patrick Brontë had his church), after Patrick Brontë (originally Brunty), father of Anne, Charlotte, Emily and Branwell. Patrick Brontë was born in this region.
- The city of Newry in the south of the county contains St Patrick's (Church of Ireland, 1578), overlooking the city centre from Church street, on the east side of the city, which is considered to be Ireland's first ever Protestant church. The Newry Canal is also the first summit-level canal ever to be built in the British Isles.
- Castlewellan Forest Park.
- Cloughmore (The Big Stone), a 30-ton Granite boulder lies on the Slieve Martin Mountain Ridge approximately 1000 ft. above Rostrevor village, with spectacular panoramic views
- Down is also home to Exploris, the Northern Ireland Aquarium, located in Portaferry, on the shores of Strangford Lough, on the Ards Peninsula.
- The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn is one of Ireland's oldest hostelries, with records dating back to 1614. It is predated however by Donaghadee's Grace Neill's which was opened in 1611. The Old inn claims that people who have stayed there include Jonathan Swift, Dick Turpin, Peter the Great, Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, former US president George H. W. Bush, and C. S. Lewis, who honeymooned there.
- Tollymore Forest Park.
- Scrabo Tower, in Newtownards, was built as a memorial to Charles Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.
- Saint Patrick is reputed to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, reputedly alongside St. Brigid and St. Columcille.
- Saul, County Down (from the Irish: Sabhall meaning "Barn") – where Saint Patrick said his first eucharist in Ireland
- Ards Lower (from the Irish: Aird)
- Ards Upper
- Castlereagh Lower
- Castlereagh Upper
- Dufferin (from the Irish: Duifrian)
- Iveagh Lower, Lower Half (from the Irish: Uíbh Eachach)
- Iveagh Lower, Upper Half
- Iveagh Upper, Lower Half
- Iveagh Upper, Upper Half
- Kinelarty (from the Irish: Cineál Fhártaigh)
- Lecale Lower (from the Irish: Leath Cathail)
- Lecale Upper
- Lordship of Newry
- Mourne (from the Irish: Múrna)
Small villages or hamlets
In association football, the NIFL Premiership, which operates as the top division, has three teams in the county: Newry City F. C., Ards F.C. and Warrenpoint Town F.C., with Banbridge Town F.C., Bangor F.C. and Lisburn Distillery F.C. competing in the NIFL Championship, which operates as levels two and three.
The Down County Board administers Gaelic games in the county. Down is the most successful team north of the border in terms of All-Ireland Senior Football Championships won with five (1960, 1961, 1968, 1991 and 1994) in total. In terms of Ulster, they share that accolade with Cavan who also have 5 titles. They currently have four minor all Ireland titles (1977, 1987, 1999 and 2005), twelve Ulster titles (1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1978, 1981, 1991, 1994) and one under 21 all Ireland title (1979).
County Down is also home to the No.1-ranked golf course outside of the US, according to Today's Golfer, Royal County Down, which is situated in Newcastle.
Currently ranked No.1 golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy originates from Holywood, situated in the north of the county.
In popular culture
"Star of the County Down" is a popular Irish ballad.
The county is named in the lyrics of the song "Around the World", from the film Around the World in 80 Days, which was an American top ten hit for Bing Crosby and UK top ten hit for Ronnie Hilton, both in 1957, although it was Mantovani's instrumental version which was actually used in the film. Rihanna's video "We Found Love" was filmed there in 2011, causing complaints when the singer removed her clothes to reveal a bikini.
The Ulster singer Van Morrison has made reference to the County Down in the lyrics to several songs including "Northern Muse (Solid Ground)", "Mystic of the East" and the nostalgic "Coney Island", which names several places and landmarks in the County. Van Morrison also covered "Star of the County Down" with The Chieftains as a part of their collaboration album Irish Heartbeat.
- Ash, rock band, from Downpatrick
- Christine Bleakley, TV Presenter was born in Newtownards
- Stephen Craigan, Motherwell and Northern Ireland defender, from Newtownards
- Jamie Dornan, actor in 50 Shades of Grey is from Holywood
- Keith Gillespie, former Manchester United & Newcastle professional footballer grew up in Bangor
- Craig Gilroy, Ulster Rugby winger, raised in Bangor
- Bear Grylls, Chief scout and TV personality Bear was raised in Donaghadee
- David Healy Northern Ireland record goalscorer is from Killyleagh
- Pat Jennings, former NI goalkeeper is from Newry
- Patrick Kielty, comedian and television presenter is from Dundrum
- Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol is from Bangor
- Josh Magennis, Professional footballer currently for Bolton Wanderers F.C. from Bangor
- James Martin, inventor of the ejector seat, from Crossgar
- Edward McGarry, Wisconsin politician
- Rory McIlroy, major champion golfer, from Holywood
- Deirdre McKay, composer
- Colin Murray Sports TV Presenter is from Dundonald
- Kristian Nairn, portrayed Hodor in Game Of Thrones is from Lisburn
- Lembit Öpik, former Liberal Democrat MP and Shadow Welsh and Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, is from Bangor
- Zöe Salmon, TV presenter and miss UK contestant is from Bangor
- Foy Vance, singer-songwriter from Bangor
- Paddy Wallace, rugby union footballer for Ulster and Ireland, Dundonald
- 2008 Annual Report in Ulster Scots Archived 29 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine North–South Ministerial Council.
- 2006 Annual Report in Ulster Scots Archived 27 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine North–South Ministerial Council.
- Taylor, Isaac. Names and Their Histories. Rivingtons, 1898. p.111
- Lewis, Samuel. A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837); "The See of Down".
- Long, David (2015). Lost Britain: An A-Z of Forgotten Landmarks and Lost Traditions. Michael O'Mara Books. p. 65. ISBN 9781782434412. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- Praeger, Robert Lloyd (1900). Official Guide to County Down and the Mourne Mountains. M'Caw, Stevenson & Orr. p. 123. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. University Press. p. 460. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "Saint Patrick's Church". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- Crawfordsburn Old Inn website
- Kearcsadmin. "St. Brigid's Day". County Kildare Archaeological Society. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy 14 March 1865.
- Census for post 1821 figures.
- Histpop.org Archived 7 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine
- NISRA.gov.uk Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
- Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x.
- "Statistical classification of settlements". NI Neighbourhood Information Service. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
- "Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
- "Rihanna video: Wildflowers to be planted in north Belfast 'hopeless place'". BBC. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- Harris, Walter (attributed). 1744. The Ancient and Present Stare of the County of Down...'Dublin.
- The Memoirs of John M. Regan, a Catholic Officer in the RIC and RUC, 1909–48, Joost Augusteijn, editor, District Inspector, Co. Down 1930s, 1919, ISBN 978-1-84682-069-4.
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for County Down.|