De Courcy's Hill of Down
A walk through the historic county town of Down. Home to many Irish legends this tour explores millennia of the town's history. The tour begins with the greatest of all of Ireland's legends, Saint Patrick.
Meeting just beneath Down Cathedral we proceed to the burial place of Ireland's Patron Saints Patrick, Brigid, and Columba. Here you are regaled with the story of this sacred place in the shadow of the historic Down Cathedral. From here we proceed to the Mound of Down, one of the largest earthworks in Western Europe.
This was the home of Celtair one of the most powerful soldiers in the Red Branch Knights. His successors the Dál Fiatach would later hold this place and keep the Viking raiders at bay. One night in January 1177 a surprise attack was mounted on the fort by John de Courcy and his 300 soldiers. This changed the area forever. Among his army were the ancestors of your tour guide Duane Fitzsimons.
Returning to the town, eighteenth century crime and punishment is the next topic as we climb to the top of Gallows Hill. This former place of public execution offers excellent views of the town. It is located on the ancient pilgrims path to Struell Wells. On the way around we will discuss a few of the town's great characters from centuries ago.
At the end of the walk you can take away a unique souvenir of your walk in Downpatrick. This is a drawing of how the town looked in 1733 based on the maps of the old Southwell estate.
The walk is 2 miles and circular, returning to the start point.
The route includes open grassland and pavements. Waterproof shoes are advised.
The tour lasts 2 hours.
The Meeting Point
There is a mix of onstreet car parking and surface carparking available in Downpatrick. Please be aware of any restrictions before leaving your vehicle.