County Down facts for kids

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County Down
Contae an Dúin
Coontie Doon/Countie Doun
Coat of arms of County Down
Coat of arms
Motto: Absque Labore Nihil  (Latin)
"Nothing Without Labour"
Location of County Down
Country United Kingdom
Region Northern Ireland
Province Ulster
Area
 • Total 952 sq mi (2,466 km2)
Area rank 12th
Population (2011) 531,665
 • Rank 4th
Contae an Dúin is the Irish name, Countie Doun and Coontie Doon are Ulster Scots spellings.

County Down (named after its county town, Downpatrick) is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the northeast of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the southeast shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,448 km² (945 sq mi) and has a population of about 531,665. It is also one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland and is within the province of Ulster.

The county was archaically called Downshire. It borders County Antrim to the north, the Irish Sea to the east and south, County Armagh to the west, and County Louth across Carlingford Lough to the southwest. 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).

It is currently one of only two counties of Ireland to have a majority of the population from a Protestant background, according to the 2001 census. The other is County Antrim to the north.

History

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.

Geography

Mournes wiki
Mourne Mountains

Down contains two significant peninsulas: Ards Peninsula and Lecale peninsula.

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.

The River Lagan forms most of the border with County Antrim. The River Bann also flows through the southwestern areas of the county. Other rivers include the Clanrye and Quoile.

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

King John's Castle Carlingford - geograph.org.uk - 985692
King John's Castle on Carlingford Lough.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Saul, County Down (from the Irish: Sabhall meaning "Barn") – where Saint Patrick said his first eucharist in Ireland

Subdivisions

Baronies

  • 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)

Parishes

Townlands

Settlements

Cities

(population of 75,000 or more at 2001 Census)

  • Belfast - the eastern suburbs of the city lie partly in County Down but mainly County Antrim
  • Lisburn - the eastern suburbs of the city lie partly in County Down but mainly County Antrim
  • Newry - the eastern suburbs of the city lie partly in County Down but mainly County Armagh

Large towns

(population of 18,000 or more and under 75,000 at 2001 Census)

Medium towns

(Population of 10,000 or more and under 18,000 at 2001 Census)

Small towns

(Population of 4,500 or more and under 10,000 at 2001 Census)

Transportation

Railways

A Passing Steam train - geograph.org.uk - 350110
A steam train on the Downpatrick and County Down Railway travelling through the Ulster drumlin belt near Downpatrick.

Historic railways

  • Belfast and County Down Railway
  • Great Northern Railway of Ireland

21st century railways

  • Northern Ireland Railways
  • Downpatrick and County Down Railway

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.

The Northern Irish 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.


County Down Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.