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County Down
Contae an Dúin
Coontie Doon / Countie Doun

Coat of arms
Motto: Absque Labore Nihil  (Latin)
"Nothing Without Labour"
Country United Kingdom
Region Northern Ireland
Province Ulster
County town Downpatrick
 • Total 945 sq mi (2,448 km2)
Area rank 12th
Population (2011) 531,665
 • Rank 3rd
Contae an Dúin is the Irish name, Countie Doun[1] and Coontie Doon[2] are Ulster Scots spellings.

County Down (named after its county town, Downpatrick)[3][4] is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the south-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,448 km² 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 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 community background, according to the 2001 census. The other is County Antrim.


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 and in Northern Ireland. 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 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.
  • 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.[5]
  • 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 and St. Columba.
  • Saul, County Down (from the Irish: Sabhall meaning "Barn") – where Saint Patrick said his first eucharist in Ireland



(population of 75,000 or more at 2001 Census)[12]

Large towns[]

(population of 18,000 or more and under 75,000 at 2001 Census)[12]

  • Bangor
  • Dundonald
  • Newtownards

Medium towns[]

(population of 10,000 or more and under 18,000 at 2001 Census)[12]

Small towns[]

(population of 4,500 or more and under 10,000 at 2001 Census)[12]

Intermediate settlements[]

(population of 2,250 or more and under 4,500 at 2001 Census)[12]

  • Ballygowan
  • Castlewellan
  • Hillsborough
  • Killyleagh
  • Moira
  • Portaferry
  • Rostrevor
  • Saintfield
  • Waringstown


(population of 1,000 or more and under 2,250 at 2001 Census)[12]

  • Annahilt
  • Annalong
  • Ardglass
  • Ballywalter
  • Crossgar
  • Drumaness
  • Drumbeg
  • Dundrum
  • Gilford
  • Greyabbey
  • Helen's Bay
  • Kilcoo
  • Kircubbin
  • Magheralin
  • Millisle
  • Portavogie
  • Rathfriland

Small villages or hamlets[]

(population of less than 1,000 at 2001 Census)[12]

  • Atticall
  • Annsborough
  • Ballela
  • Ballyhalbert
  • Ballyhornan
  • Ballykinler
  • Ballymartin
  • Bryansford
  • Burren
  • Cabra, County Down
  • Carrowdore
  • Clough
  • Cloughey
  • Crawfordsburn
  • Donaghcloney
  • Dromara
  • Gilnahirk
  • Groomsport
  • Hilltown
  • Killinchy
  • Killough
  • Lawrencetown
  • Leitrim
  • Listooder
  • Longstone
  • Loughbrickland
  • Loughinisland
  • Mayobridge
  • Saul
  • Scarva
  • Seaforde
  • Sheeptown
  • Strangford



  • 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)





In association football, the NIFL Premiership, which operates as the top division, has one teams in the county: Warrenpoint Town F.C., with Ards F.C., Banbridge Town F.C., Bangor F.C. and Lisburn Distillery F.C. competing in the NIFL Championship, which operates as levels two and three.

Gaelic games[]

The Down County Board administers Gaelic games in the county. Down is the most successful team north of the border in terms of All-Ireland Senior Football Championships won with 5 in total. In terms of Ulster they share that accolade with Cavan who also have 5 titles. They currently have four minor all Ireland titles (1977, 1987, 1999 and 2005), twelve Ulster titles (1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1978, 1981, 1991, 1994) and one under 21 all Ireland title (1979).:)


County Down is also home to the No.1-ranked golf course outside of the US, according to Today's Golfer, Royal County Down, which is situated in Newcastle.

Currently ranked No.6 golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy originates from Holywood, situated in the north of the county.

Popular culture[]

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.

21st century railways[]

  • Northern Ireland Railways
  • Downpatrick and County Down Railway

Historic railways[]

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

See also[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  • Abbeys and priories in Northern Ireland (County Down)
  • List of civil parishes of County Down
  • List of places in County Down
  • List of townlands in County Down
  • Lord Lieutenant of Down
  • High Sheriff of Down


  1. ^ 2008 Annual Report in Ulster Scots North–South Ministerial Council.
  2. ^ 2006 Annual Report in Ulster Scots North–South Ministerial Council.
  3. ^ Taylor, Isaac. Names and Their Histories. Rivingtons, 1898. p.111
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel. A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837); "The See of Down".
  5. ^ Crawfordsburn Old Inn website
  6. ^ For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy 14 March 1865.
  7. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A.. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  11. ^ Mokyr, Joel (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Statistical classification of settlements". NI Neighbourhood Information Service. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 

Further reading[]

  • Harris, Walter (attributed). 1744. The Ancient and Present Stare of the County of Down...'Dublin.
  • The Memoirs of John M. Regan, a Catholic Officer in the RIC and RUC, 1909–48, Joost Augusteijn, editor, District Inspector, Co. Down 1930s, 1919, ISBN 978-1-84682-069-4.

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at County Down. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.