Downpatrick Scots: Doonpetèrick or Doonpetherick Irish: Dún Pádraig
Downpatrick shown within Northern Ireland
Population 10,316 (2001 Census) District Down County County Down Country Northern Ireland Sovereign state United Kingdom Post town DOWNPATRICK Postcode district BT30 Dialling code 028 Police Northern Ireland Fire Northern Ireland Ambulance Northern Ireland EU Parliament Northern Ireland UK Parliament South Down NI Assembly South Down List of places: UK • Northern Ireland • Down
Downpatrick (from Irish: Dún Pádraig, meaning "Patrick's stronghold") is a medium-sized town about 33 km (20 miles) south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the county town of Down with a rich history and strong connection to Saint Patrick. It had a population of 10,316 at the 2001 Census. Downpatrick is where Down District Council has its headquarters.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Geography
- 3 History
- 4 Places of interest
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Transport
- 7 Education
- 8 Media
- 9 People
- 10 Sport
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
As the largest town in the Lecale area, Downpatrick is a commercial, recreational and administrative centre for the locality and serves as a hub for the nearby towns and villages. Within an hour drive of Belfast, the location serves as a commuter town for a large number of people. The town has a number of primary and post-primary schools educating students from all over the east Down area.
Downpatrick is characterised by the rolling drumlins that are a feature of the Lecale area and a legacy of glaciation during the Pleistocene, the Down drumlins themselves are underlaid by Ordovician and Silurian shales and grits. It also has the distinction of being the lowest place on the island of Ireland, with the marsh surrounding the north east of the town recorded as being 1.3 ft (0.4m) below sea level. Downpatrick is approximately 22 miles (35 km) from Belfast with a regular bus service.
An early Bronze Age site was excavated in Downpatrick on the Meadowlands housing estate, revealing two round houses. One measured over four metres in diameter and contained a hearth in the centre, while the other round house was over seven metres across.
Downpatrick is one of Ireland's most ancient and historic towns. It takes its name from a dún (fort), which once stood on the hill that dominates the town and on which Down Cathedral stands. Ptolemy, about the year AD 130, includes it (in Latin) as Dunum in his list of towns of Ireland. The old name of the town was Rath Celtair named after the fictional warrior of Ulster called Celtchar (in modern Irish: Cealtachair) who resided there and who fought alongside Ulster King Conchobar mac Neasa ( anglicised Conor Mac Nessa ) and is mentioned in the Ulster Cycle and, in particular, the Táin Bó Cuailgne . The name was superseded by the name Dún Lethglaise then Dún Dá Lethglas which in turn gave way, in the 13th century, to the present name of Dún Phádraig (anglicised as Downpatrick) - from the town's connection with the patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick was reputedly buried here in 461 on Cathedral Hill, within the grounds of Down Cathedral. His grave is still a place of pilgrimage on St Patricks Day (17 March each year). The Saint Patrick Visitor Centre in Downpatrick is purpose-built to tell the story of St Patrick.
From the seventh century the dominant power in Ulster were the Dál Fiatach so much so that the title "Rí Uladh" could simultaneously mean "King of Ulster" and "King of the Dál Fiatach". County Down was the ancient centre of the Dál Fiatach lands, and the chief royal site and religious centre of the Dál Fiatach was at Downpatrick from where they ruled Ulster for centuries.
In 1137, St. Malachy after resigning as Archbishop of Armagh, separating the two dioceses and appointing another as Bishop of Connor, became the Bishop of Down. He administered the diocese of Dún dá leth glas (Down) from Bangor and introduced a community of Augustinians (canons) to Dún dá leth glas dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and repaired and enlarged Down Cathedral.
After having received a grant of Ulster from King Henry II of England, Norman Knight, John de Courcy set out from Dublin in early 1177 to take possession of it. He marched north to with a force of 20 knights and 300 men and reached Downpatrick four days later. Downpatrick was an open ecclesiastical town of the old type and the invaders rode in and surprised it in the small hours of February 2. De Courcy attacked the fortress and administrative centre of Rath Celtair (the Mound of Down), defeating and driving off Rory MacDonlevy (Ruaidhri Mac Duinnshleibhe), King of the Dál Fiatach and Ulster (Ulaid).
In 1183, John de Courcy brought in some Benedictines from the abbey of St. Werburgh in Chester (today Chester Cathedral) in England and built a cathedral friary for them at Downpatrick. This building was destroyed by an earthquake in 1245.
In 1260 Brian O'Neill (Brian Ua Néill), King of Tír Eoghain (Tyrone) and who had been acknowledged as High King of Ireland by Hugh O’Conor of Connacht and Tadhg O’Brien of Thomond marched to Downpatrick, a centre of English settlement, and, allied with a Connacht force under Hugh O’Conor, fought the foreigners in the Battle of Down. The battle took place outside the city of Down and O'Neill, 8 Connacht lords and many others died. The death of Brian O'Neill and the defeat of the Irish was lamented by the Cenél nEógain bard Gilbride MacNamee (Giolla Brighde Mac Con Midhe)(1210–1272) in a poem.
Following the rebellion of Shane O'Neill in 1567, Downpatrick fell briefly into Irish hands before being re-taken by Sir Richard Morrison (Moryson).
Great scholar, poet, bishop and Franciscan theologian Aodh Mac Aingil (real name Aodh Mac Cathmhaoil) was born outside Dún (Downpatrick) in 1571.
Four main thoroughfares are shown converging on a town plan of 1724, namely, English Street, Scotch (now Saul) Street, Barrack (now Scotch) Street, and Irish Street. Topography limited expansion of the town and so the basic early 18th century street plan continued largely unchanged until 1838 when Church Street was built, followed by Market Street in 1846.
The condition of the town was greatly improved in the 18th century by a land-owning family named Southwell. The first Edward Southwell was responsible for building a shambles in 1719 and encourage paving of the streets which started in 1727. Importantly, in 1717 he built a quay and grain store at Quoile Quay, thereby, contributing to the economic expansion of the town. The second Edward Southwell was responsible for building, in 1733, one of the most beautiful examples of a Georgian charity school and almshouse, Southwell School, Downpatrick.
Down County Infirmary was established in a house in Saul Street in October 1767, and remained there for seven years until it was moved to Barrack Lane (now Fountain Street) where the former Horse Barracks, was purchased, in 1774, for £150 for use as the Infirmary. It was used until the new Infirmary (now the Downe Hospital) was opened in 1834.
In June 1778, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism famously preached both in the new preaching house in Downpatrick and in The Grove beside the ruins of Down Cathedral which he called a "noble ruin".
On 21 October 1803, co-founder and leader of the United Irishmen, Thomas Russell, "the man from God knows where", was hanged outside Downpatrick Gaol for his part in Robert Emmet's failed rebellion of the same year. Thomas Russell is buried in the graveyard of the Anglican parish Church of Downpatrick, St Margaret's, in a grave paid for by his great friend, Mary Ann McCracken sister of leading Belfast United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken.
Places of interest
- Ballyalton Court Cairn is a single court grave situated on a rock outcrop by the roadside 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from Ballyalton village, which is 2.25 miles (3.62 km) east of Downpatrick, at grid ref 531 448.
- Ballynoe Stone Circle, a large circle of over 50 closely spaced upright stones, surrounding a mound which, when excavated, was found to contain two cists in which cremated bones were found, is only 2.5 miles (4 km) south in the hamlet of Ballynoe. The site is near the disused railway station, reached by a long footpath off the main road, at grid ref: J481404.
- Down County Museum, is located on the Mall in English Street in Downpatrick and was formerly the old Down County Gaol. It was built between 1789 and 1796 at the behest of the County Grand Jury of Down under the supervision of Marquess of Downshire, the Earl of Hillsborough and the Hon Edward Ward, it was designed by architect Charles Lilly. The building served for a time as a barracks for the South Down Militia. It is famously where, at its gates, United Irishman, Thomas Russell was hanged in 1803.
- Downpatrick Racecourse, is located on the Ballydugan Road on the outskirts of Downpatrick. Horse racing has been held at Downpatrick under the charter of James II of England.
- Downpatrick & County Down Railway is Ireland's only full-sized heritage railway, built on the town's former rail link to Belfast, links the town with Inch Abbey.
- Inch Abbey, a large, ruined Cistercian monastic site featuring early Gothic architecture is 0.75 miles (1.2 km) north-west of Downpatrick on the north bank of the River Quoile off the main road to Belfast, at grid ref: J477455.
- The Lecale peninsula covers an area of some 78 square miles (200 km2) between Downpatrick and Dundrum. It is an area of historical and geographic significance.
- The Mound of Down or Rathkeltair is one of the major earthworks of Ulster, situated on the NW edge of Downpatrick it is a good example of an Iron Age defensive earthwork in the middle of which a Norman Motte and Bailey was built by John de Courcy after his defeat of Rory Mac Donlevy in 1177. Some believe that it was the residence of Celtchar mac Ulthechair, the legendary Iron Age hero of the Ulster Cycle. It seems to have become the administrative centre of the Kings of Dál Fiatach by the early Christian period.
- St. Patrick Center, is the only permanent exhibition in the world dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland, and one of the best tourist destinations in Ireland. As a nonprofit educational organization offers of reconciliation in Northern Ireland, thousands of children each year and the ongoing cross-border and international youth programs.
- Quoile Castle is a ruined 16th century Tower house, just off the main road from Downpatrick to Strangford, at grid ref: J4963 4701.
- Struell Wells is a set of four holy wells 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Downpatrick (grid ref: J513442). The wells date from before the time of Saint Patrick, and even today are used for people seeking cures.
- As of 2009, an Eclipse Cinema was opened in Downpatrick.
Downpatrick is classified as a medium town by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (i.e. with population between 10,000 and 18,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 10,316 people living in Downpatrick. Of these:
- 26.6% were aged under 16 years and 16.0% were aged 60 and over
- 48.5% of the population were male and 51.5% were female
- 87.8% were from a Roman Catholic background and 10.9% were from a Protestant background
- 6.1% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.
- Downpatrick is situated at the junction of the A7 (Downpatrick to Saintfield and Belfast) road, the A25 (Downpatrick to Newry and Dublin) road and the A2 coast road. Whilst there are no rail services in Downpatrick, Ulsterbus provides bus services to and from the Downpatrick Bus Station.
- Downpatrick railway station on the Belfast and County Down Railway, opened on 23 March 1859 and Downpatrick Loop Platform opened on 24 September 1892. Both closed on 16 January 1950. Downpatrick Racecourse Platform had opened on 8 March 1893, but closed in September 1949.
- Downpatrick also holds a Translink bus station on the Ballydugan Road.
- Downpatrick Primary School. Integrated Primary School.
- Bunscoil Naomh Pádraig. Roman Catholic Irish Speaking Primary School.
- Down High School Prep. Department. Integrated Primary School.
- 'Convent of Mercy Girls' Primary school, Roman Catholic Girls Primary School.
- St Brigid's Primary school. Roman Catholic Primary School.
- St Colmcille's Primary school. Roman Catholic Primary School.
- St Patrick's Boys' Primary school. Roman Catholic Boys Primary School.
- Down High School - Integrated Grammar School
- De la Salle High school - Roman Catholic Boys' High School
- BlackWater High School - Integrated High School
- St Mary's High school - Roman Catholic Girls' High School
- St Patrick's Grammar School (known locally as "The Red High") - Roman Catholic boys' grammar school (mixed in upper school)
Further and higher education
- South Eastern Regional College ( Downpatrick Campus ) - the local campus of the regional further and higher education college
The area is served by two weekly newspapers:
- Down News - established 2009, Online Newspaper providing the County Down Area with the latest news accessible from anywhere.
- Down Recorder - established 1836
- FM 105 is the local community radio station broadcasting on 105.0 MHz. The station's parent organisation is South Eastern Regional College.
- Ann Breen, a country singer, is from Downpatrick. She is often referred to as "The Star Of The County Down".
- Lynn Doyle, the pseudonym of the humorist & playwright Leslie Alexander Montgomery, was born in Downpatrick on 5 October 1873 (died 18 August 1961). He was part of the Ulster Literary Theatre movement and is most famous for his Ballygullion series of 20 books which fondly caricatured Northern Ireland village life. Interestingly he chose his pseudonym after seeing a large tin of linseed oil in a paint shop, initially signing "Lynn C. Doyle" but later dropping the "C.".
- Dr. Maurice Hayes, the former Northern Ireland Ombudsman, Chairman of the Ireland Funds and Taoiseach-appointed Senator in Seanad Éireann, was born and still lives in Downpatrick. He has written a memoir about growing up in the town titled Black Puddings with Slim. He served as town clerk of Downpatrick in the 1960s, succeeding his father in the role.
- The rock bands Ash, Relish and Samson Stone are from Downpatrick.
- Paul Mahon, guitarist of rock band The Answer is from Downpatrick.
- James Heatley, drummer for rock band The Answer lives in Downpatrick.
- Ian Mitchell from the band Bay City Rollers was born in Downpatrick.
- David Healy, the Northern Ireland and Rangers F.C striker was born in Downpatrick.
- Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Leader Margaret Richie MLA was born and also lives in Downpatrick.
- Andy Kilmartin, the Lisburn Distillery midfielder was born in Downpatrick.
- Barry Holland of Cliftonville F.C. is from Downpatrick.
- Tony Dobbin 1997 winner off the Grand National is from Downpatrick.
- The comedian Colin Murphy lives in Downpatrick.
- Patrick Kielty attended (St. Patrick's Grammar) school in Downpatrick.
- Miles Kington journalist, musician and broadcaster born in Downpatrick.
- Thomas Russell the United Irishman co-founder who took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and Robert Emmet's failed rebellion of 1803 was gaoled and executed at Down County Gaol by hanging on October 21, 1803. His memory is honoured by the local GAA club being named after him.
- Meghan Gordon international supermodel lived here.
Downpatrick is home to RGU Dún Phádraig GAC. The Russell Gaelic Union was formed by an Englishman a Scotsman and an Irishman: Willie King, Alex McDowell and Willie Byrne respectively, in the county town in the early 20th century. The team traditionally wears green and white hoops. Downpatrick has had mixed fortunes over the years but has still managed to produce excellent county footballers such as Ray McConville, William Walsh, Conor Deegan, Barry Breen all of whom won All-Irelands with Down.
Downpatrick Cricket Club has won the Irish Senior Cup on two occasions, the NCU Senior League on six occasions and the NCU Challenge Cup on six occasions. The club's Strangford Road ground has hosted Ireland international matches, most recently against Australia "A" and South Africa in 1998.
Downpatrick's most prominent team is Downpatrick F.C., which competes in the Northern Amateur Football League. There are, however, numerous other clubs associated with the town, and others from surrounding areas. These include Ballyvange Football Club, Downpatrick Celtic and Rossglass County There are also many youth teams such as the Celtic Bhoys, the Shamrocks, Rossglass, Ballyvange and Patrician, who along with many other teams in the area, participate in the Downpatrick Youth League. Downpatrick is home to one of the biggest Irish branches of the Manchester United Supporters' Club, the Downpatrick Manchester United Supporters' Club, which was founded in 1993. Most famous football side out of Downpatrick were Downpatrick Rec who won the Steel & Sons Cup in 1978.
Snooker and billiards
Downpatrick is also the home of the Downpatrick & District Snooker & Billiards League. Many of the local towns compete in the highly successful leagues. Teams from Downpatrick, Newcastle, Ballynahinch, Crossgar, Drumaness, Ballyalton, Ballykinlar, Castlewellan and Newtownards strive to be the best in the local district. The league currently has the All-Ireland Billiard Champion (Darren Dornan), Northern Ireland Billiard Champion (Richard Comisky), Northern Ireland over 50's Champion (John Weston) and Northern Ireland Junior Champion (Mark McKeown) playing in the league.
Downpatrick Golf Club has its own club grounds. The town also has its own tennis club Downpatrick Tennis Club Downpatrick has several other clubs that use the facilities of the Down Leisure Centre (run by Down District Council) such as the Lecale Amateur Swimming Club and the East Down Athletics Club.
- Downpatrick (Parliament of Ireland constituency)
- Brian Faulkner, Baron Faulkner of Downpatrick
- Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick
- List of towns in Northern Ireland
- List of villages in Northern Ireland
- ^ Jordan's Castle – Department of the Environment
- ^ St Patrick in Co. Down – Department of the Environment
- ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
- ^ Mallory, JP & McNeill, TE (1991). The Archaeology of Ulster from Colonization to Plantation. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, QUB. pp. 95.
- ^ DeBreffny, D & Mott, G (1976). The Churches and Abbeys of Ireland. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 60–61.
- ^ Evans, E (1966). Prehistoric and Early Christian Ireland. A Guide. London: BT Batsford. pp. 93–94.
- ^ Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (1983). Historic Monuments of Northern Ireland. Belfast: HMSO. pp. 88.
- ^ Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (1983). Historic Monuments of Northern Ireland. Belfast: HMSO. pp. 113–114.
- ^ Donnelly, JP & Donnelly, MM (1980). Downpatrick and Lecale. A Short Historical Guide. pp. 42–43.
- ^ NI Statistics and Research Agency
- ^ NI Neighbourhood Information Service
- ^ "Downpatrick station". Railscot - Irish Railways. http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
- ^ Cricket Ireland Archive
- ^ Activ Downpatrick, "Downpatrick Sports Clubs", retrieved 19 Aug. 2011
- ^ Ballynahinch Rugby Football Club
- ^ Dromorer Rugby Football Club
- ^ rossglasscounty.net
- ^ [http://www.downpatrickdistrict-snookerbilliards.com
- ^ downpatrickgolfclub.org.uk
- ^ downpatricktennisclub.co.uk
- Activ Downpatrick - The Online Guide to Downpatrick
- Armagh and Down Tourism
- Downpatrick & County Down Railway
- Down County Museum
- Down Arts Centre
- Downpatrick & District Snooker & Billiards League
- The Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick
- Virtual Tour of Saint Patrick´s Grave
- Downpatrick High Cross and Cathedral at MegalithicIreland
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