County Down (from Bassett's County Down Guide and Directory, 1886).

By George Henry Bassett

DOWN occupies in area fourth place among the Counties of Ulster. Its total of statute acres is 611 ,927. In thrift and industry it has no superior. Although a large proportion of the inhabitants profit by the entensive employment of capital in the linen and other industries, there is no county in which a greater effort is made, intelligently, to secure satisfactory results from land cultivation. The varieties of scenery, which give attractiveness to Ireland as a whole, are liberally dispensed in the County Down. In the tillage and grazing districts, the farms, in great part, are composed of gentle hills, developing eccentricities which tax the resources of the ploughman, while producing charmingly picturesque effects.

Down is fifty-one miles long and thirty-seven miles broad. Within this limit there are to be found mountains of stupendous height, a coast line one hundred and twenty-five miles in extent, a lough penetrating the land for 17 miles, numerous wooded, rocky and verdurous islands, inhabited and uninhabited, Danish and other forts, caves, cairns and stone monuments of the ancients.

Carlingford Lough, divides Down and Louth at the Southern end, Armagh is at its Western border, the Irish Sea at the East, and Antrim at the North, with its great town, Belfast, partly in the County Down and advancing, with giant strides, toward the interior.

The population of Down, originally made up extensively from England, Wales and Scotland, continues to be recruited largely from these sources. For instance, in 1841, 877 natives of England and Wales were found in the county. Between 1841 and 1881 this number had increased to 2,301. In 1841 the natives of Scotland gave a total of 809. In 1881 the total was 1,333. The natives of Leinster in 1841 stood 1,543 and in 1881 their number had increased to 2,450. Munster was represented by 323 of her natives in 1841 and had increased its force to 555 in 1881. Connaught had 265 representatives in 1841, and added 42 to this number in forty years. The total population in 1841 was 361,446, and in 1881 it was 272,107. In 1881 those who could read and write numbered 162,047; those who could read only numbered 45,796. English and Irish were spoken by 908 persons, and of the entire population two were compelled to confine their discourses exclusively to the Irish tongue.

Down, for the convenience of local government, is divided into the baronies of Ards, upper and lower, Castlereagh, upper and lower, Dufferin, Iveagh, upper and lower, Kinelarty, Lecale, upper and lower, Mourne, and the lordship of Newry. The County town is Downpatrick.

In regard to the ancient inhabitants of Down, the same differences of opinion exist that are met in the historical records of the rest of Ireland. According to some authorities, Ullagh, a Norwegian, reigned supreme in a territory including all of Down and a portion of Antrim. This was before the Christian era. The name continued to be borne by the territory or kingdom, and the Kings of Ullagh resided at Downpatrick, whither St. Patrick directed his steps in 432, converted the reigning prince, founded religious houses, and watched over their interests until his death in 493. Between the years 940 and 1111 Danish rovers busied themselves in plundering and burning the dwelling-places of the inhabitants. The British connection began in 1177. John DeCourcy, an adventurer of great prowess, arrived in Dublin that year, with the authority of Henry II. to possess himself of all the lands of Ulster that he might succeed in wresting from the native chiefs. At the head of 22 men-at-arms, and 300 soldiers, he started for Downpatrick, and after a journey of four days, without incident, he arrived at his destination. MacDunleve, the Prince of Ullagh, having had no intimation of his coming, was unprepared for defence, and sought safety in flight. DeCourcy fortified himself while MacDunleve was summoning the native chieftains to his assistance, and successfully resisted all efforts to dislodge him. He built castles in various parts of the county, and was so firmly established as a ruling baron that he considered himself powerful enough to take a hand at king-making in England. When King John succeeded his brother Richard, 1199, DeCourcy favoured the cause of Prince Arthur, Duke of Brittany, son of John's elder brother Geoffrey, and continued in revolt after the king had succeeded in purchasing the acquiescence of his foreign opponents. DeCourcy had, in the meantime, devoted himself to works of religion. MacDunleve, Prince of Ullagh, was murdered by the servants of DeCourcy in 1200, an act of treachery on their part, which DeCourcy punished by banishment. King John, determining not to allow DeCourcy to rust in his rebellion, sent Hugh and Walter De Lacy to subdue him. This they found to be attended with great danger, and after a battle, in which they were badly worsted, Hugh De Lacy offered a reward for his capture. DeCourcy invited him to decide the issue by single combat, but De Lacy declined on the ground that as an officer of the King he could not have personal combat with a rebel. The capture of DeCourcy was secured by the aid of his own servants, who, having been bribed by De Lacy, seized him while at his devotions in the Cathedral churchyard of Downpatrick.

Before accomplishing their purpose, thirteen of them were killed by DeCourcy with a cross, snatched from a grave and used as a weapon of defence. He was soon afterward (1203) sent a prisoner to England.

Hugh De Lacy succeeded to the possessions of De Courcy, and became Earl of Ulster. His descendants from time to time made themselves obnoxious to the Kings of England. During the reign of Edward II. they were in revolt, and fled to Scotland to avoid capture by the forces of Lord Justice Mortimer. It was due to their representations, backed by the native Irish Chiefs, that Edward Bruce, brother of the King of Scotland, was induced to embark for Ireland in 1315. Bruce visited the County Down, and caused himself to be proclaimed King at the Market Cross of Downpatrick. Within three years from the date of his entry, he was defeated and slain near Dundalk by the English, under General De Bermingham. By marriage with the heiress of the Chief of the De Lacy's, title to the lands of Down became invested in Walter De Burgho, Earl of Ulster. His successor William, 1333, was assassinated by his own servants. The widow, with her infant child removed to England, whereupon the baronial title to the lands of Down reverted to the Kings of England.

The native chieftains, who continued from the beginning to dispute possession of the county with the English, were of the septs of O'Neill, Magennis, Macartan, Slut-Kelly, and Macgilmore.

In addition to their efforts in this direction, there was a disturbance occasioned by the refusal, in the sixteenth century, by the abbots of Down to acknowledge the spiritual ascendancy of Henry VIII. On that occasion Lord Grey, then Lord Deputy, marched into the Lecales, and took possession of Dundrum and seven other castles.

During the war of 1641, directed by the Confederate Parliament at Kilkenny, bloody scenes were witnessed in various parts of Down. At the southern border, Narrow Water Castle was destroyed by the Confederates, and Sir Con Magennis took the town and Castle of Newry. In the war between William and James, 1689-90, the advanced Army of King William entered near Bangor. Newry was burned by the Duke of Berwick on his retreat from the forces of Duke Schomberg. William camped under the walls of Hillsborough Castle during his passage through the county.

In the Rebellion of 1798, the first battle in the North was fought in Down, at Saintfield, 9th of June, and the last stand in Down was made at Ballynahinch, on the 13th of the same month.


Geologists find in the County Down much to interest them. There is an extensive granite area, within which are the Mourne Mountains, the highest, Slieve Donard, 2,796 feet above the sea level. This is mainly composed of granite. On the summit there is crystallized hornblende, in the granular variety of which garnets occur. Red crystals of feldspar and pyrites are found among the stones forming the strand along the coast at the foot of the mountains. Green stone, green stone slate, feldspar, porphyry, grauwacke, and grauwacke slate, freestone and limestone are plentiful. Granite occupies the chief space, and is extensively quarried for building and other purposes. The farmers between Newcastle and Kilkeel use their spare time in preparing it for shipment. Much of their choicest pastures and tillage spots have been procured by the removal of granite boulders. Rough hewn blocks, for winter-working, are seen in temporary fences, in gaps, and against house walls along the route mentioned. The principal freestone quarries are in the Scrabo Hill, Lower Castlereagh. Many of the finest houses of the county gentry are of this stone. It is light grey, and is very effective as a dressing to brick. Limestone is confined to a few places in the county. There are quarries in the vicinity of Downpatrick, Moira, and Comber. At the Moira Quarry there is a very curious admixture of flints of various shapes. Slate quarries are numerous, but the efforts to put their products into profitable competition with those of Bangor, Wales, Killaloe, and Ormonde have not proved successful. Lead has been found in various places, notably in Conlig Hill, owned partly by Lord Dufferin and Lord Londonderry. A company has been working the lead mines on the Londonderry side, but during late years with diminished profit, owing to the effect of trade depression upon a pottery company which was its chief customer. Coal has been discovered on the shore of Strangford Lough, on the banks of the Lagan; also near Moira, and in other parts of the county, but the seams were not of sufficient depth to make its digging a paying enterprise. On the eastern side of Strangford Lough a fruitless search was made for it through a bed of greenstone and sandstone, to a depth of 500 feet. Some years ago, the present Lord Kilmorey, believing that a rich silver mine existed in Leitrim Hill, near Kilkeel, had a shaft sunk 400 feet. Cornish miners were employed for the purpose. Silver was found, but the yield did not prove sufficient to cover expenses.

In the matter of railway accommodation, Down compares favourably with the rest of the Irish counties. The Great Northern Company caters in a most satisfactory manner for the Southern and Western sections. It has Newry, Banbridge, Gilford, Dromore, and Hillsborough upon its lines, and goes to Ballyroney within two and a-half miles of Rathfriland. It now controls the Newry and Warrenpoint Railway; and a tramway connects Warrenpoint with Rostrevor, a distance of about two miles. The Belfast and County Down Company has almost exhausted the room for line building in the North and South Eastern, and middle sections. It has 68 miles of road at present, reaching from Belfast to Newcastle, by way of Downpatrick, from Belfast to Donaghadee by way of Newtownards, from Belfast to Bangor by way of Holywood, and from Belfast to Ballynahinch by way of Comber and Saintfield. The longest stretch of road is to Newcastle, 38 English miles. The mission of the Company will be complete when the line has been extended round the coast from Newcastle by way of Kilkeel to Greencastle, a distance of 13 1/2 Irish miles. There is a steam ferry boat at Greencastle, running in connection with the Newry and Greenore Railway, and thus Newry could be brought into more direct railway connection with Downpatrick. At present the journey has to be accomplished by way of Belfast. From the tourist point of view the case is different. The lack of railway facilities between Newcastle and Greencastle is the excuse for a continuance of the "long car" system, with its manifold attractions. There are first-rate hotels on the coast, and wonders of Nature which cannot be identified much less appreciated in a glance from a railway carriage window.

About 2,454 miles of public roads are liable to repairs at the expense of the County Down; of these 1,146 miles are in the North and come under the supervision of Mr. Henry Smyth, C.E., County Surveyor. The Southern Division has 1,308 miles, which come under the supervision of Mr. Bernard B. Murray, C.E., County Surveyor. The roads in the North and South are excellently well kept. It is a pleasure to travel over them even in Winter. In Summer they are charming, leading, as they do, through a country unsurpassed for the beauty and variety of its scenery.


ANCIENT gold ornaments have been found in various parts of the County Down, some of them of considerable intrinsic value, and all possessing features of great interest for antiquarians. Specimens of massive formation were dug up near the old church of Rathmullen, not far from Killough. A torque, sumptuously decorated, and enriched with gems, was found in the parish of Ballee, within a few miles of Downpatrick, in 1834. An excavation in an earthen fort, near Loughbrickland, 1826, revealed several ornaments in fine gold. During the progress of the drainage works at Loughadian, parish of Aghaderg, nearly sixty years ago, part of a tiara was taken out of the mud. In the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin) collection of Irish Gold Ornaments, are some from the County Down. They belonged to the late Mr. A. C. Welch of Dromore. The first, a spoon-shaped object, one and eleven-sixteenths of and inch in width, and two and three-quarter inches long. It is slightly concave, and has a slender tang with triple row of small punched dots, near the edge. It weighs two pennyweights and sixteen grains. The second was a bowed object with disc terminations and copper core; one disc gone. It was found at Edenordinary. The third is a specimen of ring money, a quarter of an inch thick and three-quarters of an inch in diameter, weighing six pennyweights and three grains. The fourth is an unclosed hoop-shaped ring, with copper core having double longitudinal flutings. The core is visible to the extent of a quarter of an inch at the centre of the circumference. It is five-eighths of an inch in diameter, a quarter of an inch in width, two-tenths of an inch in thickness, and weighs two pennyweights and ten grains. It was found at Ballymacormack.

Nothing belonging to the County Down in the Royal Irish Academy receives more notice from visitors than the immense bronze trumpet. It occupies a prominent place to the left of the Museum entrance. While cutting peat in a bog near Ardbrin, parish of Annaclone, this wonderful instrument was found by a workman in 1809. The bog had been the site of a lake which was drained about the middle of the seventeenth century. Of the five distinct kinds of trumpets found in Ireland this is considered the finest. Along the convex margin it measures eight feet five inches, and consists of two parts, each formed of very strong sheet bronze, in color yellowish red. The joining along the seam is done by means of a rivetted plate, developing the highest order of handicraft. At the opening of the larger end the trumpet is three and a half inches wide, and five-eighths of an inch wide at the smaller end. The rivetting of the edges is also a wonder of mechanical skill. The bronze strap covering the joining on the inside has small circular headed studs rivetted on the outside. There are 638 rivets in the lower portion.

In many parts of Down, brass, bronze and flint hatchets have been found. While cleaning the fosses of the great fort at Lisnagade, near Scarva, 1832, some very fine specimens in brass and stone, were thrown up; a brass cauldron and spear and arrow heads were amongst the "find." Several brazen swords, spear heads and skeans were taken from Loughadian while it was being drained. Skeogh, in the parish of Dromore, has yielded several celts, arrow heads, and ancient weapons of stone and bronze. In 1834 a bronze celt was found at Sketrig Island, Strangford Lough. It is in the Belfast Museum, along with a bridle-bit and other articles in bronze from Down, and a stone mould for bronze celts, found near Ballynahinch in 1843. This contains moulds for four celts, the largest being six inches long and four and a-half inches broad. In the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, there are excellent specimens from Down, including a copper celt with semilunar edge, oval socket, and wide loop; a large sledge axe of serpentine shape, measuring 8 1/4 inches long, 4 7/8 inches broad at the cutting edge, and also at back; it is indented to the width 2 5/8 inches in the centre at top and bottom. The aperture is very large, has nearly parallel polished sides, is one inch and five-eighths in the clear, and three quarters of an inch thick. It was found near Killyleagh, and presented by the Rev. Dr. Hinks. One of the best specimens of flint spear heads is likewise in the Down collection. It is 6 1/2 inches long and nearly two inches broad. Dean Dawson presented it to the Academy. It had previously been in the collection of Mr. Welch of Dromore. An antique chalice and a quern were found in the old graveyard, one mile to the East of Hilltown.

Antique bells have turned up in various places. Among the number was one found in a bog, 1764, near Rathfriland, and a clogh-ban, or white bell, found in the old churchyard of Kilbroney, about sixty years ago. A large bell was taken from the bed of the river Lagan, near Waringstown. It was inscribed with the legend: "I belong to Donaghcloney."

Stone implements from Down monopolize a fair share of attention in the Catalogue of the Royal Irish Academy.

Whorls, of sandstone, chiefly used for the ends of distaffs, are also plenty.

Among the pottery specimens is an ancient pitcher, 13 inches high, and 32 inches in girth. It is very thin, and only weighs 5 lbs. 10 oz. It is stained a dark color on the outside, and glazed. The bottom is so globular that it cannot stand upright. It is tastefully decorated round the neck, and for some distance down the sides. The handle is different in curvature from any modern vessel of like shape. It was found in a cranoge at Lough Faughan. This cranoge, or artificial island, according to tradition, was used as a place of refuge from the O'Neills. About the year 1840 a canoe, formed from a solid piece of oak, was found in the vicinity of the island. Canoes of the same kind have been discovered elsewhere in the county; one, with a pair of oars, at Islanderry, Parish of Dromore, and one at Meenan bog, near Loughbrickland, 1826.

The weight of curious interest in the Royal Irish Academy Museum objects, outside the Gold Room, centres at the case containing specimens of antique woollen costumes. These were presented by the Earl of Granard 84 years after their discovery in hard gravel, 4 1/2 feet under a bog at the eastern foot of Drumkeeragh.

Bones of a female, and long tresses of auburn hair, had around and upon them ten different articles of dress, each varying in color, grist of thread, and arrangement of weaving. The articles, all woollen, came into possession of the Countess of Moira, grandmother of Lord Granard. She describes some of them thus:--"A coarse camlet, probably petticoat, herringbone, finer quality, open huckaback, light fragment of gauzy woollen veil, of most delicate texture, greenish, hard, closely-woven mohair camlet, outer surface having rows of elevations, from each knob of which depended a small black tab, now reddish brown. May have been part of tunic."


DOWN originally must have had a considerable number of round towers. A very fine one stood near the grave of St. Patrick at Downpatrick. It was removed since the restoration of the Cathedral. The remains of one are near the Episcopal Church, in the parish of Maghera. During a storm in 1704 twenty feet blown down, lay in a column unbroken; a small portion is still left. In the cemetery of the Presbyterian Church, Drombo, there is one 40 feet high. It was repaired in 1880 by a few gentlemen interested in antiquities. About 50 years ago a stone coffin, with remains, was removed from the centre of the tower to the Belfast Museum. At a distance of 50 yards the tower is encircled by a trench 13 feet deep. It was discovered by the father of the present sexton, John Quarrell. the third generation of sextons. At the rebuilding of the Presbyterian Church in 1882, at a cost of £2,500, the architect being Mr. MacKenzie, of Belfast, the trench was found again; the sexton became interested, and has since traced it all the way round. During my visit to the cemetery in April, 1886, I found him building a vault in a portion of the trench, and examined the mass of material he had thrown out. It was composed of leaf mould and bones of animals, including, it is supposed, those of the Irish wolf-dog.

The county abounds in ancient earthen forts. Among the most attractive are those of Scarva, Newry, Downpatrick, Dromore, Donaghadee, Tanvalley, and Dundonald. The one in Scarva demesne is the "Dane's Cast." It is supposed to extend from Lough Neagh to the sea. Lisnagade, or "the fort of a hundred," is in the same parish, and is so called because a great many smaller forts can be seen from it. In the parish of Drumgooland there are several raths and forts. Some are perfect, and others have been partly removed for topdressing purposes. A Danish rath in the parish of Bright has the ruins of Castle Screen. Forts are also to be found in the parish of Magherally, vicinity of Banbridge, in the parish of Knockbreda, near Belfast; Balloo, Killinchy, in the vicinity of Ballynahinch, in the parish of Comber, and several in the parish of Rathmullen. Twenty-five were traced fifty years ago in the parish of Bangor. Tanvalley fort, one of the largest and most perfect in the North of Ireland, is near the Episcopal Church, in the parish of Annaclone, between three and four miles south-east of Banbridge. In its vicinity are several of smaller proportions. Numerous forts exist in the parish of Anahilt, reached by way of Hillsborough.

The largest has been brought into use for burial purposes. It had four enclosures, the whole occupying over nine acres. There is a large rath at Bankmore, and a smaller one at Ballytrustin, in the parish of Ballyphilip. There are also forts at Tara Hill, a few miles from Portaferry, at Tullylish, near Banford, at Anadorn, parish of Loughinisland, and at Clough.

In the parish of Drombo there were eight forts of great size. The largest was composed of loose stones, earth, &c., and from its general outline, gave the impression that a fortified town anciently existed in the vicinity. The "Giant's Ring," also in the same parish, and within half a mile of Purdysburn, and four miles of Belfast, is a circular entrenchment enclosing about ten acres. A Cromlech in the centre rests on eight upright stones, and slopes toward the East. Mr. Thomas Gray is the tenant of the adjoining farm. The third Viscount Dungannon took a deep interest in the preservation of "The Ring." He had a wall built around it in 1811. and an inscription placed at the gate earnestly recommending it to the care of his successors. At the other side of the wall there is a tablet commemorating the visit of his Viscountess, Sophia, to the "Ring," April 4th, 1856, "as well as the cordial and affectionate manner in which she was received by the adjacent tenantry on the occasion." The Ring is a favourite pic-nic ground for excursionists.

The number of discovered caves in Down is quite large, but there is reason to believe that it is altogether out of proportion to the number undiscovered. Newcastle has more belonging to the former category than any other place in the county, and in connection with many of them there are stories of thrilling human interest. Near the Castle of Dromore a cave hewn out of the solid rock, was revealed in 1817. The floor was strewn with cinerary urns. A trench recently discovered at Drombo, circling a round tower, was evidently used as a place of refuge. It ran its course at a distance of fifty yards from the tower, and was thirteen feet high. A cave discovered in 1834, near Rostrevor contained cinerary urns. In the vicinity of Ardglass is the cave of Ardtole from which the townsland is named. At Dundonald, a cave has its opening at some distance from the great fort, and passes under it. A cave was discovered in the parish of Tyrella in 1832. It has three chambers, measuring respectively, 60, 45 and 24 feet in length. Stones, without mortar or cement, were used in its construction. The roof is formed with flags. There is a cave in a hill, near Killough. It is 102 feet long and is divided into four chambers, the furthest and largest being circular The smugglers' cave at Craigavad is interesting. In the townland of Finnis, parish of Dromara, there is an artificial cave, ninety-four feet long, five feet in height and six feet wide. A transept near the centre is thirty feet long. The roof consists of granite slabs. The Rev. Elgee Boyd, rector of the parish, had the mouth protected by an iron door in 1833. A cave three feet wide, five feet high and sixty-two feet long exists in the churchyard of Donaghmore. It has two chambers and a transept nearly thirty feet broad. The roof is composed of large flat stones and the entrance is marked by a curious old cross.

According to the weight of good opinion, most of the cromlechs were originally covered by cairns, the stones of which, being loose and handy, were removed for building purposes. Cairns, without the colossal stones in the interior, were also numerous. The remains of many, and some still nearly perfect, are to be found throughout the county. One on Slieve Croob consists of a platform upon which there are eleven smaller cairns. Remains of a large cairn are visible on Scrabo Hill. At Anadorn, parish of Loughinisland, there is a cairn which once measured sixty yards in circumference. The largest one is at Drumiller, in the parish of Ahaderg. Before it proved a temptation to avoid the laborious work of quarrying, it was 60 feet high and 226 feet in circumference.

Cromlechs, known also as Druidical altars, nearly all possessing similar features, are found in many of the parishes. The great stone of one in Ballygraphan, near Comber, measures nineteen feet by six, and is four feet in thickness. One known as the "Kempe stone," is in a field at Greengraves, near Dundonald.

There is also one in the demesne of Mountstewart, Newtownards. Near Kilkeel is one, the table of which is nine feet long, and eight feet six inches wide. There is one near the shore of Loughinisland Lake, and another on the slope of the hill, East of Causeway Water. In the parish of Clonduff, about two miles from Hilltown, is the cromlech known as "Cloughmore," The table stone, a block of granite, is about 50 tons weight and is elevated to a height of about fourteen feet. It was once circled by large stones. Near the ruins of Knock Church, in the parish of Knockbreda, are the remains of a cromlech Several are in the parish of Newry. At Legananny, in the parish of Drumgooland, there is a large one, the table of which is supported by three upright stones of great size. One at Slidderyford, near Dundrum, is seen from the railway train. In the neighborhood on a hill called Slieve-na-boil-trough, is another with a large table stone, coffin-shaped. The vicinity of Downpatrick, in this respect, is rich in its possessions. In the parish of Ballee, close to Slieve-na-griddle, there is a table stone eleven feet long and nine feet broad. In the district of Castlewellan there is a cromlech which excites a great deal of curiosity. But by reason of its surroundings, that in the "Giant's Ring," is best known and receives the largest number of visitors.

Stone circles of a very interesting nature are found in two places near Downpatrick, and there is one in the vicinity of Portaferry.

Standing stones are also very numerous in Down. Their purpose, it is supposed, was to mark the place in which human remains had been deposited in cinerary urns. A great number of these urns have been dug up in the county. Comber has given several to the Belfast Museum. Excavations between the upright stones of Cromlechs have yielded many perfect specimens. Excavations in the forts and explorations in the caves have been similarly fruitful.

The stone crosses in the County Down are comparatively few. Chief amongst them is one which now occupies a secure position in the gable of the Drumgooland Parish school-house. It is sculptured in low relief, is between eight and nine feet high, and was removed from the churchyard in the vicinity for greater safety. There is a cross in the old churchyard of Kilbroney, and one which marks the site of a cave in the churchyard in Donaghmore. There is a very fine granite sculptured cross at Dromore, which has been rescued this year from a position of neglect in company with the town stocks.

Some excellent examples of ancient sepulchral slabs, sculptured, are found at Movilla Cemetery, near Newtownards; Kilclief, near Strangford; Rubane, near Kircubbin; Grey Abbey; Saul, near Downpatrick; Killyleagh; Dunsford, near Ardglass; Ballynoe, Parish of Bright, near Downpatrick; and at Maghera, near Newcastle. One of two found at Ballymaclean, parish of Bangor, is in the Belfast Museum with one found near the old church of Bangor, and presented in 1823. A perfect specimen was dug up some time ago in the old cemetery at Holywood, and is treasured in the church ruin.

Among the abbeys which once flourished in the County Down the best known were those which were founded and presided over by St. Patrick, at Downpatrick and at Saul, where he died in 493. There were two at Comber, one founded by St. Patrick, and the second, in 1201, by Brien Catha Dun, progenitor of the O'Neill's of Clandeboye. Inch, near Downpatrick, founded by John DeCourcy; Erynagh, near Downpatrick, founded by Magnell, King of Ulster, and destroyed by DeCourcy, 1177; Bangor, founded in 555 by St. Comgall; Ballyphilip, near Portaferry; Dromore, founded by St. Colman; Kilclief, presided over by disciples of St. Patrick; St. Eugene and St. Neill; Newry, founded by M'Loughlin, King of Ireland, 1157; Newtownards, founded, 1244, by Walter de Burgho; Movilla, near Newtownards, founded by St. Finian, 550; Parish of Slanes, near Portaferry; Tullyhoe, parish of Tullylish; Ardquin, in the Ards; parish of Drombo; Grey Abbey, founded in 1199, by Africa, wife of DeCourcy, and daughter of King Godfred of Man; and St. Andrew de Stokes, better known as the Black Abbey, founded by DeCourcy about the year 1180. This stood within two miles of Grey Abbey, but of the foundations nothing remains. The last fragment of wall was removed by a farmer, renting the adjoining lands, about twenty years ago. In the ruins of Grey Abbey a sepulchral slab is to be seen which belonged originally to the Black Abbey. It is seven feet long, has an ornamental moulding carried round the edge, and a floriated cross, with eight points.

John DeCourcy and his followers built many castles in the County Down to defend their possessions from the native chieftains. Twenty-seven commanded Strangford Lough, and a number of them still continue to heighten the picturesque features of the shore line. Raymond Savage erected one at Ardkeen, which successfully resisted the attacks of Shane O'Neill in 1567. There are Jordan's, King's, Cowed, Margaret, and Horn Castles at Ardglass. The most interesting is that in which Simon Jordan successfully defended himself for three years, until relieved, against the followers of Tyrone, 1611. Con O'Neill's Castle occupied a fort on one of the Castlereagh hills, near Belfast, and was an object of such tender solicitude to a few gentlemen of antiquarian tastes that they contracted with a mason to build a wall around it. When the work came to be paid for it was found that the mason had quarried the ruins to build the wall. The site of the first castle built by DeCourcy is now occupied by the Post-office at Downpatrick. The ruins of Dundrum Castle, built by DeCourcy for Knights Templar, and held by them until 1313, are extensive and attractive. Green-castle, built by Walter De Burgho, stands on the verge of Carlingford Lough. It played a part of more or less importance in nearly all the efforts of the English to maintain their supremacy in Ulster. The Irish destroyed it in 1343, and it was rebuilt soon afterward. Edward Bruce took it in 1315, and Cromwell caused it to be dismantled in 1645. The surrounding scenery is incomparably beautiful. A ferryboat runs to Greencastle twice a day from Greenore, at the opposite side of the lough. Kilclief Castle, which is about two miles south of Strangford, was at one time the Palace of the Bishops of Down. MacCartan's Castle stood on Castle Hill, in the parish of Loughinisland. The head of the sept lost his possessions in the district through having joined the rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone. The Castle of Newry was built by DeCourcy, destroyed and rebuilt by Marshal Bagnal. Narrow Water Castle was originally built by Hugh De Lacy in 1212. It was destroyed in 1641, and rebuilt by the Duke of Ormonde in 1663. Portaferry Castle, the remains of which still exist, was built by the founder of the Savage family, a follower of DeCourcy. Seafin Castle, on the Bann, in the parish of Drumballyroney, was held by the Magennises during many generations, and was one of their chief places of defence and refuge. The castles at Strangford are, Audley's castle, on a rock opposite Portaferry, Castle Ward; one on the creek further down; and one at the quay. They were erected by DeCourcy's followers. There are remains of Screen Castle, parish of Bright; Clough Castle, on a Danish fort; Quoile and Walshestown castles, near Downpatrick; and Gilford Castle. A castle was erected at Newtownards, by the O'Neills, in the fourteenth century. The ancient castle at Killyleagh has been restored by the Hamilton family. A portion of Dromore castle stands; it was built for the protection of Bishop Tod. Hillsborough castle, built in the reign of Charles I., is in fair preservation. Three walls of Rathfriland castle remain; it was the principal seat of the Magennises. Bright castle occupied a strong position overlooking Killough. There are remains of it. Ruins of Kirkistown, Sketrick, Rostrevor, and Mahee castles, are still in evidence. The castle built by Felix Magennis, at Newcastle, has been taken down. There are some remains of a castle built by DeCourcy on the shore of Quintin Bay in 1184. There are foundations of Castles at Scarva, and Lisnagade in the same parish. Not a vestige of Moira castle remains. The ancient castle of the Whites occupied Killinchy fort, and the site of the castle, built by Sir Marmaduke Whitchurch, on Loughbrickland, in 1585, was occupied by a dwelling-house in 1812.


FARMING in the County Down, as I already intimated in the opening chapter, is conducted in a manner highly creditable to those engaged in it. Tillage monopolizes a large part of the energies of the farmers, and has been profitable in seasons when good prices prevailed in the markets. The total extent under crops in 1884 was 279,668 statute acres, and in 1885 it was 284,070, showing an increase of 4,402 acres, the chief contributory to which was flax. In this item alone (22,284 acres) there was an increase of 3,087 acres. Down is now by far the largest flax-growing county in Ulster. When the new system of scutching has been brought into general use, the area under the crop is likely to be doubled in a few years. It is claimed for this system that through it there will be an increase of about 40 per cent, in the amount of good rough fibre taken from the straw. Under the old system a large part was turned into tow in the process of scutching, with a proportionate reduction in the farmer's profits. The new invention releases the fibre from the straw without turning any part of it into tow. Wheat, as a crop, is decreasing in extent. Between 1884 and 1885 the decrease was 499 acres. Oats, potatoes, turnips, and carrots, are steady crops. Down is the largest potato-growing county in Ulster. In 1885 it had 48,417 acres, an increase of three acres over the previous year. The shipment of potatoes to England and Scotland has been extensively carried on for years; in fact, potatoes are the principal freight sent from the smaller ports. The total number of acres under tillage in 1885 was 215,079, an increase of 1,749 over the previous year. The number of acres under meadow and clover in 1885 was 68,991, an increase of 2,653 over the previous year. Very nearly half the total area of the county was under crops in 1885.

The number of horses of all ages, in 1885 was 31,301, an increase of 357 over the figures of the previous year. There was an increase of 24 in the number of mules (119) and of 285 in the number of donkeys (1,483), an increase of 2,916 in the number of milch cows (54,183) and 4,666 in the total number of cattle (149,553), an increase of 7,815 in the total number of sheep (58,203), of 220 in the number of pigs (48,612) and an increase of 12,456 in the number of poultry (625,477). A considerable amount of butter is made, and there is a strong disposition manifested among the farmers, particularly in the grazing districts, to take advantage of the best dairying methods. During the present year (1886) a Creamery Company has been established in the vicinity of Banbridge. Its operations are being watched with keen interest. Upon the results will depend the action in a like direction to be taken in other parts of the county.

Farming societies have done good work in the County Down. The North-East Society, which now makes head-quarters at Belfast, sprang from a ploughing society, the first in the North of Ireland, established at Bangor in 1816, through the efforts of J. R. Cleland. Many of the members of this society are residents of the County Down, as are likewise many of the exhibitors. Mr. G. Gerald Bingham is secretary, and the office is at the Ulster Buildings, Belfast.

The Killyleagh, Killinchy, Kilmood and Tullynakill Farming Society ranks next in age to the Bangor Ploughing Society. It was established in 1818, and was organized as a ploughing society. The chief founders of it were Robert Johnstone, Ballywoolen House, and Thomas Taylor, The Fort, both gentlemen of energy and intelligence. The annual shows of the Society are held alternately at Killyleagh and Killinchy. The President is the Earl of Dufferin, the Hon. Secretary, James Gourley, J. P., Derryboy Cottage, Killyleagh, and the Treasurer, John Ringland of Cluntagh, Killyleagh. Subscriptions are regulated according to the size of the farms. Members holding 40 acres and upward 10s. annually, under 40 acres, 5s. In 1885 the prizes in the cattle department aggregated £32 9s. 6d. Mr. Gourley, the efficient and courteous honorary secretary, has found time, in addition to his other duties, to collect a great deal of material concerning the history of the Eastern part of the county.

The Lecale Farming Society was established in 1844 and holds its annual show at Downpatrick. The officers are J. R. M'Connell, treasurer; D. G. M'Cammon and James Reid, jun., secretaries. There are five classes of members. Those of the first pay annual subscriptions of £1 or more, second class, farmers holding 50 acres and upward, not less than 10s., third class, farmers of from 25 to 50 acres, 5s., fourth class, farmers of from 10 to 25 acres, 2s. 6d., fifth, farmers of 10 acres and under, 1s. Premiums are not given to more than one person in the same class and section. As an encouragement to the others, members rated first class, do not compete for money prizes, but are awarded certificates of merit. In 1884, premiums aggregating in value £68 5s., were given for cattle, farms, flax, green crops and cottages.

The Banbridge Farming Society was established about eight years ago. The officers are J. M'Kibbin, treasurer, M. W. Blackwood, hon. secretary, Robert Shooter, secretary. Competitors in the horse and cattle departments must be subscribers of not less than five shillings, and in the sheep, swine, poultry, butter and flax, not less than two-and-sixpence. Winners of £4 in prizes to contribute £1, and of more than £l 10s., each in poultry classes alone, at least ten shillings. In 1883 the amount given in prizes aggregated £93 13s.

County Down is well supplied with markets and fairs. Great improvements have been made in the principal market places, particularly in those of Newry, Banbridge and Dromore.


TRADE in the County Down is generally conducted so as to produce healthy activity and prevent recklessness. The business people are cautious, prudent and, as a rule, exceedingly hardworking, in some of the towns and villages keeping their shops open until after nine o'clock at night. The competition is very keen in nearly every branch of trade, with the result that the consumers get the worth of their money everywhere.

Manufacturing enterprises, other than [those associated with linen, although not numerous, are of considerable importance. Tanning is confined to Newry. There are seven tanneries in that town operated by different owners. Two iron foundries, two mineral water factories, one salt factory, and five flour mills are also at Newry. Three of the flour mills rank among the largest in Ireland, and have the improved machinery. Cabinet furniture manufacture is on a respectable footing. There are mineral water factories at Banbridge, Newtownards, Downpatrick. Comber, and Castlewellan, two distilleries at Comber, under one management, a potato and soup canning factory at Portaferry, brickworks at Newry, and brick-making on a smaller scale is carried on in various parts of the county. There are extensive lime works at Moira and Bangor, and steam stone polishing works at Newry. At Newtownards there are four factories devoted to the knitting and weaving of woollen yarns. One gives attention to skirtings, shirtings, and shawls, the second to bed-quilts, the third to hosiery and petticoats, and the fourth to hosiery, jerseys, and Cardigan jackets. Rope-making is done at Newry and Banbridge. Stone quarrying is an important industry, and is carried on extensively in the vicinity of Newry, Newtownards, Castlewellan and elsewhere. Linen is the staple manufacture of the county. Newry has five mills, three engaged in spinning, and two in weaving. The river Bann, from Banbridge to Gilford, has six weaving factories, two immense thread mills, six bleacheries, and two beetling mills Newtownards has two weaving factories and one bleachery, Castlewellan one spinning mill, one weaving factory, and a bleachery; Donacloney has a weaving factory and bleach works; Ravarnet has one weaving factory; Hillsborough has one, there is one close to the Antrim border at Lisburn, and one at Bloomfield. Killyleagh has two spinning mills, Comber one, Drumaness one, Sprucefield one, and Bloomfield one. The Lambeg Bleach Works of the Messrs. Richardson are in Down and Antrim, near Lisburn. There is a small bleachery on the Down side of the Lagan at Lisburn. There are bleacheries at Dromore and Kilbroney, near Rostrevor, dyeing and finishing works at Forestbrook, near Rostrevor, and a beetling mill at Newtown, near Rostrevor. Tapes are manufactured at Newtownards, and twines at Lisburn, in Down. At Newtownards there are printing works in connection with a handkerchief factory, and a shirt and collar factory. Newry has an apron and handkerchief hemstitching factory. Banbridge has a hemstitching factory, and there are four of a similar kind at Dromore. Two factories at Dromore are devoted to the weaving of linen cambric handkerchiefs. Handloom linen weavers may still be counted by the thousand in Down. With a few exceptions every district in the county has a number of them. They receive the yarns from agents in the rural districts on certain days, and weave them with looms set up in their own cottages. At Newtownards and vicinity it is estimated that there are at least 800. In the vicinity of Dromore several hundred work for firms making a special feature of handloom linens. Embroidering is a branch of industry which gives employment to thousands of women in every part of the county. Down has been long famous for work of this kind, and maintains its reputation in spite of the fact that there are few schools in the county having special departments for teaching the art. The finest workers are among the middle-aged married women. In this summary of the industries I have taken no account of Ballymacarrett, for although in the County Down, it is a part of the Borough of Belfast, and will be treated under the head of Belfast in my book of the County Antrim. Ballymacarrett is a hive of manufacturing enterprise. Deep sea fishing is carried on to a considerable extent by the inhabitants of the villages along the Down coast. Ardglass is the chief point of interest in connection with this industry. In the herring fishing season as many as 500 luggers discharge there. Steamboats attend and carry the fish every day to Holyhead.

Twenty-five of the luggers are owned by residents. Kilkeel ranks next to Ardglass. It is not uncommon to see a fishing fleet of 300 sail there in summer. It has a good safe harbor Kilkeel has 30 sail and 35 row boats engaged in fishing, doughy has 19 sailing luggers and 30 row boats; Kircubbin has an interest in 15 luggers, and Portavogie, which is about three miles from there, has 40. This place has a natural harbor, protected by high rocks, in which there are thirteen feet of water at low tide. Annalong has 15 luggers and about 20 row boats, Ballywalter 8 or 9 row boats, Bangor about 18 cutter-rigged and three or four smaller boats, Portaferry has 8 luggers and about 20 row boats, Newcastle, 50 row boats, and Killough has about 50 men who fish in sailing yawls and row boats in summer, and ship as sailors during the winter. All the luggers owned in the County Down go to Kinsale for the mackerel fishing in spring.


HUNTING continues to enjoy its old-time popularity in Down. Several packs of hounds and harriers are maintained, and game being plenty, nothing interferes to spoil sport. The packs include the County Down Stag Hounds, Newry Harriers, Down Harriers, and Lecale Harriers. Capt. Ker is Master of the stag hounds, which number about 35 couples. He keeps the kennels at his own residence, Montalto, Ballynahinch. The pack was established by him seven years ago; Saunders was first huntsman. Captain Ker hunts the hounds at present. The hunting district comprises the whole county. There are usually three meetings each week in the season--Tuesday, in the Banbridge district; Thursday, Downpatrick; and Saturday, Belfast. The stags are kept in the deer-park at Montalto. Members of the hunt number over 120. They have an annual dinner at Belfast. The subscription is ten guineas. Outsiders following the hounds are supposed to pay ten shillings field-money at each meet. Mr. T. G. Gordon, J.P., Delamont, Killyleagh, is treasurer. The average attendance of members during the season is about 40. Mr. Thomas D'Arcy Hoey, J.P., Dromalane House, Newry, is the present Master of the Newry Harriers, having succeeded Mr. Henry Thomson, J.P., Altnaveigh House, Newry, in 1869. The pack had been previously, for many years, hunted by the late Mr. John Gordon, of Sheepbridge, one of the most prominent of County Down sportsmen. Mr. Hoey also hunts the pack himself, and has done so since his advent to the mastership. The hunting district consists of a circuit of about seven miles, between Loughbrickland and Newry. Few of the farmers ride to hounds, but all are favorable to the sport, and help to preserve the hares. The minimum subscription toward the maintenance of the pack is £5; field-money for non-members, 2s. 6d. The kennels are at Drumcashlone, within an eighth of a mile of Newry. The pack consists of twenty couples, and the average height is twenty inches.

The North Down Harriers, originally known as the Dufferin Hunt, consist of 20 couples of an average height of 21 inches. Mr. J. B. Houston, D.L., Orangefield, is Master, and Mr. Richard Baxter, Belfast, secretary and treasurer. The kennels are at Ballynichol near Comber, Sam Burgess is huntsman. The Master subscribes £20, and the other members £10 each. No field money is collected. A circuit of between four and five miles around Comber, constitutes the hunting country.

Col. Forde, D.L., Seaforde, is Master of the Lecale Harriers, the oldest pack in the county. It was established by the Forde family. The district includes the country from Annsborough to Ardglass, and from Ballynahinch to St. John's Point. Mr. Charles Murland, J.P., is treasurer; Rudwick has been huntsman for twenty-four years. His son is first whip. The pack consists of twenty-eight couples, with an average height of twenty-four inches. Kennels are kept near Clough. A kindly interest is manifested in the sport by the farmers, who help to keep an abundant supply of hares. Mr. Henry Thomson, J.P., has a private pack of harriers, consisting of thirteen couples, average height seventeen inches; he has had it since 1878. The kennels are at Newry, but although he hunts occasionally in Down, his grounds lie chiefly in Armagh. The Carrickblacker Harriers, twenty couples, a County Armagh pack, hunt in Down three days a week, in the vicinities of Gilford and Banbridge. Mr. John B. Atkinson, Portadown, is Master. The club known as "The Down Hunt," has its head-quarters at Downpatrick, and meets there on the second Tuesday of November, second Tuesday of January and second Tuesday of February in each year. Its Club House is called "The County Rooms." Between 80 and 90 members are at present in good standing. The entrance fee is 20 guineas, and the annual subscription 5 guineas. Election is by ballot, at which at least 15 members must be present. One black bean excludes. Major T. J. D. Forde, Drumcerra, Annerly, is secretary and treasurer. Presidents hold office for only two nights. There are four dinners at each meeting, at which none but members can be present. Two days of the meeting are spent with the Lecale Harriers, and two with the Stag Hounds. The morning costume of members includes trousers or breeches, drab coat, with silver buttons, bearing the arms of the club, and tall silk hats. Evening full dress consists of ordinary black trousers, black vest and swallowtail coat with scarlet facings and gold buttons, bearing the club arms. Mr. Robert Moorhead has been steward of the club since 1857.

Coursing is also a favourite sport in Down. This year local meetings have been successfully held at Banbridge, Rathfriland, and Moneyreagh, near Comber. The great meeting of the county is held annually at Mourne Park, near Kilkeel, by the Mourne Park Coursing Club. Lord Kilmorey established the meeting about six years ago, and managed it until 1885. He gave the grounds without charge, and spent money freely in improvements. Hares were imported at his expense to keep up the stock. In 1884-5 the hares showed more stamina. The meetings hitherto have been held annually, in September, and continued for three days in succession. In 1885 there was a departure from the plan of the foundation. Lord Kilmorey now receives £200 a year rent for the ground. Mr. John Annett, jun. is secretary and treasurer. The club has upward of 100 members who pay an annual subscription of £l each. Lord Kilmorey is president and invariably presides at the draw, which takes place at Rostrevor. The attendance averages from 300 to 400 on each day of the meeting. Stakes are usually from £4 10s. to £6 10s. each. The range is from 32 to 64 dogs. At the meeting in 1885 the gate money amounted to £120. The club is largely supported by English and Scotch coursers.

Racing in the county is confined to the Maze and Downpatrick courses. That is to say, what may be called the regular racing. These races were established under a charter to the Down Corporation of Horse-breeders, by James II. William III. founded what is now known as "The Queen's Plate," dating his patent at Hillsborough Castle, June 2lst, 1690. The Maze is an excellent course, flat and steeplechase, two miles round. Two "Queen's Plates" are given, and the conditions are less circumscribed than those in connection with the Downpatrick meeting. Mr. T. G. Gordon, of Killyleagh is Hon. Registrar. The races are usually held in July of each year, for two days. In "the good old times" they were held each day for a week, alternating with Downpatrick every second year. The last meeting at Downpatrick took place on the 31st of March and 1st of April, in conditions more open than they have hitherto been. The stakes on the first day consisted of the Ulster cup, value 30 sovs., with 30 sovs. added, the Downshire stakes, a handicap of 100 sovs., added to 3 sovs. each, pony plate of 21 sovs., Dufferin plate of 80 sovs. for hunters, Stag hunters cup, value 30 sovs., Farmers challenge cup value 45 sovs., presented by Mr. John M'Connell, J.P., with 30 sovs. added, and the Ballydugan plate of 40 sovs. On the second day they included the County Down Hunts' cup, value 30 sovs., presented by Mr. John Mulholland, D.L., with 30 sovs. added, for County Down hunters, Lecale plate of 80 sovs., Iveagh plate of 80 sovs. for hunters, Montalto cup, value 30 sovs., Downpatrick plate of 40 sovs., Castlereagh plate, value 30 sovs., and the Railway plate of 35 sovs., for hunters. Mr. Charles Murland, J.P., Ardnabannon, Castlewellan, was treasurer, and Mr. Wm. Hutton, Ligamaddy House, Downpatrick, hon secretary. A special feature of the Downpatrick races is the large number of county hunters brought out. The course, one mile and a quarter round, is a first-rate one.


DOWN is fairly well off in the matter of streams and ponds that are stocked with trout. The flax water has done injury to some of the best, but enough remain in good condition to satisfy those who have time and inclination to fish them. Newry anglers who are particular to keep to the County Down can be sure of good sport at Hilltown. The Bann, which passes there, has excellent brown trout. At a distance of two miles, Irish, from Rathfriland, in the same river, the fish are first-rate. Warrenpoint has plenty of trout in its reservoir, and the sanitary authorities issue licenses to anglers at 10s. each. Kilkeel has, within a distance of three miles, the Ballykeel River, the Whitewater and the Caseywater, all of which are right good for trout and may be fished without hindrance. These streams are also accessible from Newcastle. The Shimnah joins the sea at the latter named place and for a short distance toward Tollymore Park, has trout. In the vicinity of Dundrum the Moneycaragh River is good for trout. Ballylough Lake, less than a mile from Castlewellan, has plenty of trout. Mr. Charles Murland, J.P., the owner, partly preserves it, but he is too hospitable to resist the desire of any well disposed angler who may wish to wet a line in it. Lord Annesley has two heavily stocked trout lakes at Castlewellan. At the junction of the Ballynahinch river and the Glasswater, within a short distance of Crossgar, there is good trout fishing to be had. Ballynahinch river is nearly all fair. Between Dromara and Dromore the Lagan is good for trout. Near Moira some very large trout were landed last season.

Boating in the best amateur style is done by the Rowing Club at Newry. This club has given a good account of itself in "all comers" contests, and some of its men have won valuable prizes. It holds an annual regatta at Newry in conjunction with the Athletic sports. There are sailing clubs at Donaghadee and Bangor, and Killyleagh holds an annual regatta in which sail and rowboats compete.

Two clubs keep up the prestige of the county for rifle-shooting. One has its head-quarters at Newtownards and the other at Dundrum.

Lawn tennis has been gaining ground in popular estimation. There are several flourishing clubs in the county. Newry has a club exclusively devoted to tennis, and the members of the Newry Rowing Club divide their energies between the river and the tennis court. There are clubs at Holywood, Belmont, Kilkeel, Downpatrick, Dromore and Banbridge.

Cricket holds its own against all the new-fangled attractions. Newry has two clubs, Banbridge two, Killyleagh two, and each of the following places one each: Comber, one of the best in the county, Downpatrick, first-rate, Holywood, Belmont, Dromore, Hillsborough, Waringstown, Dundrum and Clough.

Foot-ball clubs exist at Bangor (2), Newtownards, Newry, Banbridge (2), Crossgar, Ballynahinch and Donaghadee.

Lacrosse, as a game, received a footing in the county in 1872. Newtownards was the first town in Ireland to succumb to its allurements. Clubs have since been established at Bangor, Bloomfield, and recently at Newry.

Curling is done at one place only in the county, where a club was established about eight years ago by Mr. Wm. Sibbald Johnston, J.P. Further particulars will be found under the head of Newtownards.

There are Cycling clubs at Newry, Newtownards and Bangor.

See also County Down Directory 1862