County Down Monasteries and Castles

There are numerous remains of monastic edifices, of which the principal are at Downpatrick, those of Grey abbey on the shore of Strangford lough, and at Moville near Newtown-Ardes, Inch or Innis-Courcy near Downpatrick, Newry, Black abbey near Ballyhalbert, and Castlebuoy, or Johnstown in the Ardes. The first military work which presents itself in the southern extremity of the county is Greencastle, on the shore of Carlingford bay, said to have been built by the De Burgos, and afterwards commanded by an English constable, who also had charge of Carlingford castle: these were considered as outworks of the pale, and therefore intrusted to none but those of English birth. The castle of Narrow-water is of modern date, being built by the Duke of Ormonde after the Restoration. Dundrum castle is finely situated upon a rock overlooking the whole bay to which it gives name: it was built by De Courcy for the Knights Templars, but afterwards fell into the hands of the Magennis family.

Ardglass, though but a small village, has the remains of considerable fortifications: the ruins of four castles are still visible. Not far from it is Kilclief castle, once the residence of the bishops of Down; between Killough and Downpatrick are the ruins of Bright and Skreen castles, the latter built on a Danish rath, as is that of Clough; in Strangford lough are Strangford castle, Audley's castle, and Walsh's castle; Portaferry castle was the ancient seat of the Savages; in the Ardes are also the castles of Quintin, Newcastle, and Kirkestown; the barony of Castlereagh is so called from a castle of the same name, built on a Danish fort, the residence of Con O'Neill; near Drumbo is Hill Hall, a square fort with flanking towers; Killileagh Castle is now the residence of Hamilton Rowan, Esq.; and at Rathfriland are the ruins of another castle of the Magennises. General Monk erected forts on the passes of Scarva, Poyntz, and Tuscan, which connect this county with Armagh, the ruins of which still exist. At Hillsborough is a small castle, which is still maintained in its ancient state by the Marquess of Downshire, hereditary constable; and other castles in various parts have been taken down. The gentlemen's seats are numerous, and many of them are built in a very superior style of architecture; they are all noticed in their respective parishes.

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