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NEWCASTLE- ‘WHERE THE MOUNTAINS OF MOURNE SWEEP DOWN TO THE SEA’

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.

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.

gateway Mournes

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

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.

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 foregoing, 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 overbearing sulking mountains of Mourne to the other gives the place a special feeling which many poets and artists have tried to convey in word and deed. However one 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.

sheep_from_rocks_effect.jpg (22696 bytes)

Sporting Activities in the Newcastle area:

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

Areas of Local Interest:

  • Tollymore Forest Park
  • Silent Valley
  • Castlewellan Forest Park
  • The Mourne Mountain
  • Donard Park
  • Tyrella Beach
  • Butterfly House, Seaforde
  • Murlough Nature Revserve
  • Turnip House Knitwear
  • American Car Museum

Mournes

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.

Oh 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