Ballymote Country House is the perfect jumping-off point for the astonishing number of local historical sites. Drive a few miles in almost any direction and you will find one of any amount of 10th and 11th century churches, stone circles, Viking strongholds, castles, dolmens, healing wells and round towers. We are also in the heart of St. Patrick’s country.
Castle Ward is full of personality. The mid-Georgian mansion is an architectural curiosity of its time, built inside and out in two distinct architectural styles, Classical and Gothic. The Victorian laundry, playroom, cornmill, leadmine and sawmill give the full flavour of how the estate worked.
Inside the beautiful 820 acre walled demesne you will find an exotic sunken garden and paths that wind their way through woodland and suddenly open onto the quiet shores of the Lough.
There are woodland and lough-side paths and horse trails, formal gardens, Old Castle Ward, Temple Water and the Strangford Lough Wildlife Centre.
The famous gardens at Mount Stewart were planted in the 1920s by Edith, Lady Londonderry and are of international importance. The magnificent series of outdoor ‘rooms’ and vibrant parterres contain many rare plants that thrive in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula, allowing astonishing levels of planting experimentation
The garden reflects a rich tapestry of design and great planting artistry that was the hallmark of Lady Londonderry. The formal areas exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape; the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world, ensuring something to see whatever the season.
Engaging tours of the opulent house reveal its fascinating heritage and historic world-famous artefacts and artwork.
ST. PATRICK’S COUNTRY
We are also in the heart of St. Patrick’s country! St Patrick is world renowned for bringing Christianity to Ireland – and banishing the island’s snakes!
THE ST. PATRICK’S CENTRE
Just a few minutes down the road is The St. Patrick’s Centre
Down Cathedral is a Church of Ireland cathedral. It has a turbulent history and stands on the site of a Benedictine Monastery, built in 1183. Destroyed by earthquake, pillaged by the Vikings, burnt by the Scots, destroyed again by the English, it lay in ruins for more than 200 years before being restored in the 1790’s. Magnificent stain glass windows, box pews and beautiful organ case enhances this interesting building A stone believed to mark the site of St. Patrick’s grave can be seen in the graveyard..
Replica of an ancient Celtic church, built on the site of the stone barn used by St Patrick as the first Christian meeting place in Ireland, in a barn provided by the local Druid lord, whom St.Patrick had converted. (read more)
Pilgrims flocked here from the 16th until the 19th century. Originally believed to have been a place of Pagan ritual, St Patrick is said to have dedicated the wells to Christianity. The waters are said to have mysterious healing powers. Remains of ancient stone bath houses remain intact.
What you see today are the remains of the Cistercian abbey that was built by John de Courcy in 1180 in atonement for his destruction of Erenagah Abbey, which he destroyed in 1177 because he believed that it was fortified against him. The buildings are mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries. (read more)
Believed to have been built in or around 1177, Dundrum Castle was built by John De Courcy as part of his coastal defence after he invaded Ulster. Dundrum Castle is located on a wooded hill north-west of Dundrum village near Newcastle. It controls access to Lecale and dominates Dundrum Bay. Its main purpose was to control the land routes from Drogheda to Downpatrick(read more)
THE MOUND OF DOWN DOWNPATRICK,
Also known as the English Mound and Rathkeltair, the Mound is one of the major earthworks of Ulster, and which was already in existence by the year 800. Thought by some to have been the Palace of the Kings of Ulster. Used by the Norman knight, de Courcey.
BALLYNOE STONE CIRCLE
A magical site of a double circle of standing stones surrounding an oval mound which housed two graves. Outer ring, some 35 metres in diameter, has stones standing 6ft (1.8 m). Neolithic or early Bronze Age. Purpose uncertain, possibly ritual, astronomical or memorial.
An impressive tower-house was reputedly built by John Sely, bishop of Down, between 1413 and 1441 when he was dismissed for living with Letticia Thomas, a married woman. (read more)
AUDLEYSTOWN CAIRN NEAR AUDLEY’S CASTLE
A small wedge-shaped cairn of stones marks this Neolithic burial site. Remains of 34 people were found here, together with decorated pottery, flints and tools. These graves were build by early farming communities in the Neolithic period (New Stone Age ) in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC.