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Aran Inspired

County Down Museum

The building that houses the County Down Museum was once a local jail dating back to 1789. Now painstakingly restored, it houses exhibits centered around the life of St. Patrick, carved crosses from the 8th and 10th centuries, a selection of audiovisual presentations, and agricultural exhibits that include old farm implements and details about animals raised on local farms. Historical items on display include Bronze Age weapons, pottery, implements and tools, along with domestic crafts from the 19th century. There is a special section focusing on artifacts from the 1798 uprising.

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Mt. Stewart Estate

You can find Mt. Stewart Estate just north of the Village of Greyabbey, where the mild climate of the peninsula is kind to growing exotic plants like those that flourish in its gardens. These unique beds, terraces, and walkways were laid out after WWI and are considered to be some of the finest in the country. The estate was the seat of the Marquises of Londonderry, and the manor house was built upon the remains of an earlier structure, beginning in 1804 when George Dance created the west face. William V. Morrisson designed the neoclassical main wing, added in 1845.

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Scotch Street, Downpatrick. Image by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society Near the east coast of Northern Ireland, on the southwest of Strangford Lough, Downpatrick is the traditional, ecclesiastical capital of County Down. The town, which today has a population of over 10,000, derives its name from an association with St. Patrick.

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Castlewellan Castle and Forest Park

The large granite manor house at Castlewellan, County Down, was built by William Annesley in 1856. Overlooking a lake, and with magnificent views of the Mourne Mountains, it boasts a castellated architectural style known as Scottish Baronial. The house currently serves as a private conference centre for Christian groups. The rest of the estate was designated as Castlewellan Forest Park in 1969.

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Castle Ward

Castle Ward sits on the south shore of Stangford Lough, nestled amid woodlands, gardens and the beauty of the lakeshore. This manor house is unique because it is made up of two completely different styles of architecture and décor. Bernard Ward, the First Viscount Bangor, and his wife, Anne, built the home in the 1760s. According to history, they could not agree on the style for their new abode, so they each chose what they liked for half of the mansion. Lord Bangor took the front portion, and chose a Classical, orderly and restrained style of architecture and furnishing, while Anne’s half, located at the back of the house, was designed and furnished in a more whimsical and ornate Strawberry Hill Gothic.

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Bronte Homeland Interpretative Centre

County Down is the place where Patrick, the father of the famous Bronte sisters, was born and raised. The family, including the aunts and uncles of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, lived in and near the towns Banbridge and Rathfriland. The father of these world famous sisters was born Patrick Brunty on March 17, 1777, Saint Patrick’s Day. The buildings and ruins of buildings that figured most prominently in Patrick’s life are included in the area of the Bronte Homeland Interpretative Centre.

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The Mourne Mountains

This small but striking mountain range is a central part of the culture of unspoiled outdoor beauty that exists in County Down. Clustered in the southeast part of Northern Ireland, the Mourne mountain area is filled with lakes, streams, hiking trails, pristine woodlands and spectacular views of the ocean below. The tallest of the Mourne peaks is Slieve Donard, which rises to 2796 feet and offers a brilliant view of Strangford Lough and the Isle of Man off the coast.

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Struell Wells

Nestled in the verdant countryside of Struell, a townland (parcel of land) in County Down, people have for centuries visited these bathing houses and medieval wells for their healing powers. Each Midsummer Eve (June 23rd), throughout the middle ages, pilgrims made the journey here seeking cures. The name Struell comes from the Gaelic tSruthail Sroo-hal meaning stream.

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Tyrella Beach

Tyrella beach in County Down is one of Northern Ireland's most scenic beaches, situated under the beautiful Mourne Mountains. It is also one of Ireland's cleanest, and regularly wins Blue Flag Awards, Seaside Awards and Green Coast Awards. At about 1.5 miles / 2 kilometres, Tyrella offers a long strand that is popular with both walkers and water sports lovers. It has clear water and brisk, cool waves. Unlike some other Irish beaches, no cars are allowed on Tyrella's open and expansive strand, which makes it more pleasant to experience -- and there is a car park nearby, with a direct ramp to the beach, so those with wheelchairs / prams / buggies can access.

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Rowallane Garden

 Rowallane Garden is famous for its beautiful rhododendrons and simple but uniquely artistic arrangements of a wide variety of plants. The manor house on the grounds was built in 1861, and Reverend John Moore designed the gardens. The entrance path to the house is surrounded by lush woodlands, decorated by various stone ornaments and cairns also designed by Rev Moore. There are two walled gardens on the property, the outer and inner gardens. The outer garden is filled with hydrangeas and hostas, while the inner garden features herbs from an old kitchen garden as well as roses. The grounds are ringed with wildflower meadows that contain many rare and beautiful orchids.

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