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Newry

Newry is a small town in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is governed in part by the UK monarchy and is a sovereign state of the UK. As of 1998 it is mostly self-governing under the Good Friday Agreement. Newry was named after the Yew tree, a type of tree, and, the tree chosen by St. Patrick while he travelled to Ireland for planting when he hoped to mark the growing strength of Ireland in terms of faith. Surrounding the Yew tree was a monastery until it was replaced by a Catholic 'White Monk" Abbey who follow Benedictine teachings and rely on manual labor and self-sufficiency.

Newry is a port town due to its connection to the River Bann which runs to the Loch Neagh. A channel was built to pass several towns to Portadown, where you find the River Bann conveniently situated towards this cause. Newry River, at Newry, and River Clanrye, the name taken by the river after flowing beyond Newry toward Belfast and beyond, is a main highlight of the area as it is a frequent sight throughout town.

The Mournes

The Mournes are a mountain range in south-eastern Northern Ireland found in County Down. Comprised of granite, the mountain range is named after a Gaelic Clan, the Mughdhorna. Mountains here reach heights of over 2,500 feet. Tourists frequent the area and they do this on foot, on bicycles and as rock climbers. A famous attraction of the Mournes is the Mourne Wall, measuring 22 miles in length and spanning a total of fifteen mountain summits it was built to create measurable boundaries for the Water Commissioners of Belfast who had purchased 8,900 acres to establish a sufficient water supply for the city of Belfast.

Many of the mountains carry the word Slieve with their titles which is a by-product of the word sliabh which means mountain in Irish. Other names for the mountains include Cock and Hen or Pollaphuca with the name Pollaphuca standing for “hole of the sprites”.

A special award known as the DofE or Duke of Edinburgh's Award is awarded to those who complete a special list of activities. Both boys and girls can attempt this challenge. The mountains provide the perfect qualifying source for the required expedition requirement to win this award. Participants must be between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four.

There are railways linking The Mournes with the Newry railway station, both the Northern Ireland Railway, by way of Bangor Line, and the Enterprise railway provide transportation here.

Carlingford Lough

Carlingford Lough is fed by River Newry and the Newry Canal, it is also a glacial fjord meaning it was carved into the surrounding rocks by glacial activity. It is also one of only three lakes anywhere in Ireland that was formed in this way, it is most popular with tourists. The lake or lough is on the southernmost border of County Down, the same county that hosts the town of Newry and the Mournes mountain range. The lake is halfway between Belfast of Northern Ireland and Dublin of the Republic of Ireland.

Tourists love the fine hotels, the scenic drives and the watercraft rentals available at or near the lake. There are also tours during peak season available. Festivals such as the Maiden of the Mournes in Warrenpoint on the northernmost point of the lake to its west side or the Mourne Walking Festival offer additional treats for tourists and locals in addition to entertainment that is available at the hotels and bars of the area.

Arts and Adventure

Warrenpoint Town Hall sports a 360 seat theatre, exhibition space and various events throughout the year. The Olive Co. in Newry City Centre is found beside the courthouse and is a coffee and gift shop. The Sean Hollywood Arts Centre is also found in Newry with two galleries, a 110 seat theatre, rehearsal room, dance studio scenery workshop, an art room, dark room and more. The Painted Earth of Newcastle in County Down is a craft and gift shop supporting local artists of all genres including those into pottery, clothing, jewelry, batik, lithograph and ceramic work and a Pottery Painting business in Warrenpoint called Paint Pots is a place where you can have your own handmade pottery fired and painted. These are only a few of the many businesses in the Newry and Mourne area that can entertain the creative artist in you.

Many forests fill the area, the Ballymoyer Forest was the property of the Synnotts, a well-to-do linen merchant family, and has many pretty trails for walking while only being three miles from Newry. The Carrickatuke and the Fews Forests are also perfect for walking or taking in the scenery.

This wouldn't be Ireland without a castle and the Castle Ward is a beautiful 820 acre estate with a sunken garden and beautiful walking along the Strangford Lough. The castle is found in eastern County Down and can be reached by car or ferry.

Directly across the way from Main Street Newry is the Daisy Hill Wood known for its exotic as well as native trees and flowers, the more exotic ones being the passion of the owners when this spot was a nursery.

Many bike routes are available in this area such as the 'Poet's Trail,' the Beetler's Trail or the Tour of the Mournes-Newry Wheelers for those who like a little breeze in their hair.