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Attractions County Down Northern Ireland

Killyleagh Castle
County Down
BT30 9QA
028 44828261

Situated on the beautiful shores of Strangford Lough, Killyleagh is a picturesque town located approximately 20 miles south of Belfast and 5 miles north of the historical cathedral town of Downpatrick.

Killyleagh Castle dates from 1180 when the Norman Knight John de Courcy built a series of castles on the East and West of Ireland, to protect the inhabitants from raids by Vikings and is the only one remaining that is not a ruin.

In the middle ages the Castle was owned by the heads of various sects, mainly the Whites and the McCartans.

Killyleagh Castle is claimed to be the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland, now a private family home, it has been the home of the Hamilton family, who have owned and occupied the castle since 1640, since the 17th century Plantation of Ulster.

The Castle acquired its fairy-tale silhouette in the 1850s when it was redesigned by Charles Lanyon, who added the turrets and battlements to this amazing Loire-style chateau, which completely dominates the small village.

In the 19th Century Killyleagh was no more than two streets and the town of Killyleagh has grown up around this magnificent 'fairy tale' castle which looks out over Killyleagh and Strangford Lough; offering a rare and unusual treat for visitors to the region, who can enjoy tours inside the Castle or can stay in one of the number of historic battlement self-catering apartments.

The castle hosts occasional concerts; with past performers including Van Morrison, Glen Hansard and Bap Kennedy.

The Castle provides excellent facilities for Private Functions, Weddings and Conferences which are professionally catered for.

Please contact for further information.

Downpatrick Railway Museum
The Railway Station
BT39 6LZ
028 44615779
A visit to this railway museum will give hours of enjoyment for those interested in the history of trains.

The station is situated 150 metres from Saint Patrick's Centre and is the only Irish Standard Gauge 1600mm (5'32) working museum and houses steam and diesel locomotives, century old carriages, a rebuilt signal cabin and engine shed.

Passengers can take a journey over 1km, which is currently being extended to 11km, which will eventually travel both southwards to Ballydugan and northwards across the marshes and River Quoile to the historical 12th century ruins of Inch Abbey.

The railway operates on Saturday and Sunday during July and the first two weeks in September.

There is a train ride along a restored section of the BCDR Belfast-Newcastle line to the grave of Magnus Barefoot, who was a Viking King, as well as a footplate driving course.

Please contact for further details, or visit the website.

Seaforde Tropical Butterfly House
Seaforde Demesne, Seaforde Village
BT30 8PG
028 44811225
A truly wonderful experience, which will delight all ages, is on offer at Seaforde Gardens.

Visitors will be able to see many hundreds of exotic free-flying butterflies as well as a wonderful display of parrots, reptiles, insects and amphibians from Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas amidst the tropical landscape which houses them behind glass.

Enjoy themselves in the maze and follies and walk around the walled gardens which contain a large collection of shrubs and trees, many of which are rare.

Please contact for further details, or visit the website.

The Saint Patrick Centre
53a Lower Market Street
BT30 6LZ
028 44619000
A Personal Journey into the Irish Spirit

This centre uses 21st Century technology to tell the fascinating story of Ireland's Patron Saint and reveals a wealth of information about the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and its development through his mission.

There are a series of interactive displays and exhibitions of wonderful artwork and metalwork which was produced during the Golden Age.

Why not take a guided tour which will take you through twelve stages of Saint Patrick's life.

There is an area for children, Saint Patrick's Kid's Corner, where children of all ages can learn more about his quest by following the animated story, as well as games to play, puzzles and competitions.

Facilities are also available in this area to email a friend.

The centre also has a Tourist Information Centre, Internet Cafe, Crafts and Gift Shop, and a lovely Terrace Restaurant offering a wide choice of food and beverages to relax in during your visit.

Please contact for further information.

Ballycopeland Windmill and Millar's House
Windmill Road
BT22 2DS
028 90546552

Ballycopeland Windmill is located 1 mile (1.6km) west of Millisle on the B172, signposted from Newtownards.

Millisle, as the name implies, once had around 100 windmills recorded in the grain-rich county of Down and, although there are several remains left, this is the only one surviving.

It is estimated that 'Ballycopeland Windmill' was built around the 1780's or '90s, appearing on the first Ordnance Survey maps of the area in 1830s.

'Ballycopeland' Corn Mill produced flour and animal feed and was worked by the McGilton family until the 1914-18 War and afterwards lay disused for many years.

The Mill is a tall, tapering tower of stone, plastered and whitewashed; with its four sails being turned by a fan-tail on the revolving cap, so that the sails could always face into the wind.

It has two entrance doors; a West door to allow access should the main East door be blocked by the sails.

The windmill has now been restored to full working order, after painstaking repair and reconstruction by the Department of Environment in Northern Ireland, and the Mill ground its corn again in 1978.

As the machinery is now in working order again, the milling process can be best followed by climbing to the top floor and working downwards to the ground floor; although the Mill is not normally operational during visiting hours.

Between the road and the Mill is the Millar's house and the kiln-house; where the grain was dried before being ground.

The Millar's House, now features an audio visual theatre presenting the working and history of the Mill, together with a fully reconstructed grain store, which forms part of this unique visitor attraction.

Facilities include:

Car Park
Windmill Model
Guided Tours of the Mill

Wheelchair users will find some parts of the windmill inaccessible.

The windmill is open to visitors in July and August at the following times:
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm
Sunday 2pm to 6pm

(Children under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult)

A small cover charge is levied for entrance to the windmill in order to assist with maintenance costs.

Please contact for further information.

Coco's Adventure Playground
27a Central Promenade
028 43726226
Coco's Adventure Playground is a large, indoor adventure playground which guarantees hours of enjoyment for children under 14 years of age.

Enjoy the varied selection of slides, including Free Fall, Astra Slide, Snake Slide, Tube Slide, Assault Course, Activity Tower and Cable Ride.

There is a soft play area for toddlers.

Birthday parties and group bookings are catered for.

A fully supervised Disco with dance competitions are held throughout the year.

Please contact for further details and bookings, or visit the website.

Mount Stewart House and Gardens
Portaferry Road
BT22 2AD
028 42788387

Mount Stewart House is a remarkable 18th century house with some of the finest architecture to be found amongst stately homes in Britain.

The house is situated on the shores of Strangford Lough with spectacular ornamental gardens which are based on European designs.

Visitors touring the house will see authentic furnishings, great paintings and hear stories about the fascinating array of prominent political leaders and society figures to whom the Londonderry family played host.

House and Garden information:

Embroidered chairs used at the Congress of Vienna in 1876
World famous painting of ‘Hambletonian’ by George Stubbs
Famous gardens of international importance
European Garden of Inspiration 2003
New garden shop
Suitable for picnics
Facilities for families
Available for functions
Access for visitors with disability
Dogs welcome on leads in grounds/garden only

The famous gardens at Mount Stewart were created in the 1920s by Edith, Lady Londonderry, who affectionately called the gardens; her 'green fairyland'.

The garden has a balustrade terrace, leading to an Italian parterre garden, a Spanish garden, a sunken garden, a Shamrock garden, a woodland garden; containing many rare plants which thrive in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula, to the grandeur of the lake.

The picturesque lake is surrounded by enchanting mixed woodlands and the Temple of the Winds has dramatic views across Strangford Lough.

Excellent facilities are available for wedding ceremonies and receptions which can take place in the Temple of the Winds, the Central Hall, or in a Marquee in the gardens, all beautiful locations offering a unique backdrop for your perfect day.

The fully licensed Bay Restaurant offers waitress service to visitors with a choice of delicious main and light meals using finest local ingredients and a children's menu is available.

Gourmet evenings, summer safaris and special events are catered for outside normal hours, by prior arrangement.

Opening times:

Lakeside Gardens
Open all year: 10.00am to sunset daily

Formal Gardens
10th March - 31st March:
10am - 4pm week-ends/Bank and Public Holidays
1st April - 30th April: 10am - 6pm daily
1st May - 30th September: 10am - 8pm daily
1st October - 31st October: 10am-6pm daily
November - February: Closed


10th March - 29th April: 12-6pm week-ends/Bank and Public Holidays
(and between 6th - 15th April daily)
2nd May - 31st May:
1-6pm daily (except Tuesday); 12-6pm week-ends
1st June - 30th June:
1-6pm daily; 12-6pm week-ends
1st July - 31st August: 12-6pm daily
1st September - 30th September: 12-6pm daily (except Tuesday) 6th October - 28th October: 12-6pm week-ends
November - February: closed

Last admission to House & Formal Gardens 1 hour before closing

Please contact for further information.

The Brontë Interpretative Centre
Church Hill Road, Drumballyroney
BT32 3NB
028 40623322

Visitors can learn more about the life and works of Patrick Bronte, father of the famous literary sisters Charlotte, Anne and Emily, who was born in Banbridge District in 1777, at 'The Bronte Interpretative Centre' which is located at Drumballyroney Church and Schoolhouse, near Rathfriland; ten miles south of Banbridge.

This is where Patrick taught as a young man, and where he later returned to preach after being ordained. The church and schoolhouse have been restored and now include displays about the Brontë family.

The centre also marks the start of a 10 mile scenic drive through Brontë Homeland, where you can easily follow the story of Patrick Brontë and his family through the buildings that survive.

Alice McClory's Cottage was the childhood home of Patrick's mother, Alice McClory, and Patrick’s birthplace and memorial. Alice and Hugh used to court secretly and some say they eloped to their wedding in Magherally Church, near Banbridge.

The Birthplace Cottage Although little remains of the family's two-roomed cottage, in the fairy glen at Emdale, the remains have been in the care of the Brontë Homeland Trust since 1956.

Glascar School is where Patrick taught in the 1790's. He is said to have used 'enlightened teaching methods' to bring out the best in his pupils and he was later dismissed for forming a romantic attachment with one of them.

The original schoolhouse was replaced by a more modern building in 1844.

Brontë Homeland Picnic Site is situated at Knockiveagh, along the Lisnacroppan Road, and is an ideal place to stop and enjoy the views of the rolling hills with the Mountains of Mourne in the background, where Patrick Brontë grew up.

The picnic area occupies the ruins of a former 'shebeen' - an illicit drinking house.

The river valley, running from Banbridge to Rathfriland, is now called 'Bronte Country'.

There is a programme of events available and Brontë Heritage Talks and Homeland Tours.

Opening Dates and Times:
April - September:

Friday - Sunday (including Bank Holidays)

12 noon - 4.30pm
Open by appointment at other times

Admission: Adult £3.00 & Child/Concession £2.00

Please contact for further information.