The city of Newry is located in a valley on the river of the same name, and is divided into County Armagh and County Down near the Irish border.
Wherever you go, there is breathtaking nature, starting from the waters of Carlingford Lake with its stunning Cranfield Beach.
To the west are the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains, the source of granite for Britain’s Industrial Revolution, and contain stark views of Silent Valley Mountain Park.
To the east is the Gullion Volcanic Ring of Outstanding Natural Beauty, full of monuments and archaeological sites full of Irish mythology dating back to the Stone Age.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Newry:
1. Newry Cathedral
Newry’s most striking monument is the A-class Gothic Revival Cathedral, built in the 1820s from local granite.
The architect, Thomas Duff, one of Newry’s most famous sons, designed many churches and cathedrals in north-east Ireland, all in Gothic Revival design.
With the addition of towers, transepts and altars, expansions took place over the next century.
Inside, the vaults, floor tiles and stained glass are all worth seeing, while the marble trim and mosaics were completed by Italian craftsmen and took five years to complete.
2. Newry and Mourne Museum
Bagenal Castle has changed a lot since it was built as a fortified house in the 16th century.
The castle was built on the site of a 12th-century Cistercian abbey in Newry, but until the 1980s many of its accessories were lost as the castle was used as an industrial bakery from the late 19th century.
Those excavations in the 1980s brought a new look to the original window frames, fireplaces, gun rings and doorways.
The ballroom has also been restored and now hosts various events throughout the year.
At the museum, you can delve into Newry’s folklore and past, learn about the Cistercian monastery founded at the same time as the city, and read about the record-breaking 18th-century Newry Canal.
3. Sliver Gurion
In the middle of the Gullion ring is Armagh’s highest peak, 573 meters high, and the view will stop you in your tracks.
Here you can see the rest of the Gullion Ring, Armagh Drumlins and the Morne Mountains to the east.
The slopes are decorated with bare stones, heather and dry heather, and are topped by two stone mounds on either side of the lake.
The southern stele is officially the highest passage grave in Ireland.
Visit Slieve Gullion Forest Park, which features a visitor centre, walled gardens, adventure playground and Giant’s Lair, a themed trail in a 1.5km forest inspired by Slieve Gullion’s rich Irish mythology.
4. Derrymore House
Set in 100 hectares of meadows and woods, Derrymore House was built in the late 18th century in a quaint upscale country style.
You’ll know what that means when you see properties now managed by the National Trust.
In the ‘cottage orné’ style popular at the time, Derrymore House had a thatched roof made of Shannon reed.
This belies the high status of the building, which was the summer home of Newry MP Isaac Corey.
For just £2, you can go in and visit the drawing room, or take a free stroll through the land of happiness, the last leg of the Gullion loop.
5. Barry McDermott Court Tomb
The choice for Stone Age monuments near Newry is this cemetery, which has a stunning vantage point on the south side of Barley McDermott Hill.
The monument was active between 6,000 and 4,500 years ago and offers stunning views of the Meigh Plain.
There is a courtyard that forms almost a complete circle, flanked on one side by three different rooms that have long since lost their roofs.
These used to be supported by corbels, which you can still see in the middle room.
There is another court burial near Clontygora, a portal burial at Ballykeel, and the Bernish viewpoint a few minutes away offers more picturesque views.
6. Silent Valley Mountain Park
The Silent Valley Reservoir was built between 1923 and 1933 in response to the sudden expansion of Belfast in the early 20th century, with water flowing from the Mourne Mountains.
This massive catchment area is surrounded by the Mourne Wall, a 35km dry stone structure that took 18 years to complete.
Silent Valley shines with the crucible of the mountains surrounding the reservoir, and the views of those smooth granite peaks.
Since 2014, three new walking trails have allowed walkers to have more fun from the park, taking you to the Mourne Wall, which runs through the 15 peaks of the Mourne Mountains.
7. Moyrie Castle
Guarding Moyrie Pass and the Northern Gorge just south of Jonesboro was a battle fort in the Nine Years’ War at the turn of the 17th century.
Moyrie Castle was built by order of Lord Munjoy, Vice-Lord of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth I, and consisted of only a three-storey tower above the “vault” or outer wall.
The Moiri Pass was the path of least resistance for troops to cross the hilly, swamp-covered terrain.
Most people who take the Dublin-Belfast railway will see Moyrie on the train, you can come and look around and get an atmospheric photo of the tower.
8. Cranfield Beach
Just on the northern edge of Lake Carlingford, Cranfield Beach is a wide sandy cove with shallow slopes.
This blue flag beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards from around the end of June to early September, and if you’re ready to brave the clear Irish Sea, you can swim between the yellow and red flags.
The beach is worth a walk at any time of the year for a breathtaking view of the Mourne Mountains to the north.
There are only houses and an RV park behind the beach, so it makes sense to bring a picnic if you’re going to spend the day.
9. Old Church of Kiliwi
In a historic cemetery are the ruins of two churches built back to back at the foot of the Slieve Gallion hill.
The West Church dates back to the 1000’s, while the East Church dates back to the 1400’s.
Both were part of the old monastery founded by Santa Monina in the 6th century and operated for a full thousand years, but closed with the abolition of the monastery.
When you visit this evocative place, you might think of some of the misadventures that occurred at the monastery, such as the Viking raid in 923 and the devastating storm in 1146. To the north of the cemetery, you’ll find a tomb believed to be covered in granite slab Santa Monina.
10. Analon Corn Mill
Just before the River Analong entered the Irish Sea, the village of the same name has a restored waterwheel that was in use from the early 1800s until the 1960s.
Despite the name, Annalong Cornmill is in the business of grinding oats into oatmeal, and for over 150 years, only three different families have run the business.
From April to October, the factory is open and you can step inside to learn about Morne’s country culture, learn about the mechanics of the factory, and get an inside look at the factory from reenacters.
There is also an exhibit on Mourne’s “Masons” who mined granite and loaded it onto sailing ships to build the industrial cities of England and Scotland.
11. Narrow Water Fort
Just where the River Newry leads to Lake Carlingford, there is a charming castle built in the 16th century surrounded by a small shed.
The site’s earliest fortifications date back to the 13th century to protect the controlled river traffic from Hugh de Lacy, 1st Earl of Ulster, to Newry.
Later, the narrow waters were turned into aristocratic “towers”, with some mesmerizing elements recognizable on the outside, such as the arrow rings on the corners to avoid blind spots, and the corner nooks made of limestone to contrast with the granite rubble . wall.
12. Flagstaff Viewpoint
This precious scenic viewpoint is located on the right bank of the River Newry, opposite Narrow Water Castle, a few hundred meters from the Irish border.
There is a large car park at the base of the hill and you can climb over the heather and watch the river meander down to Carlingford Lake.
Here at Barry’s Rock, stands a flagpole, 12 meters high, on the site of a historic flag.
This was to help sailors entering the estuary calculate wind direction and force, but could also be a way to warn smugglers against customs officials.
13. Newry Canal Road
The now-abandoned Newry Canal was the UK’s first hilltop canal and was used to transport coal from Tyrone to the Irish Seats on Lake Carlingford.
You can now walk or cycle north to the 32km section of Portadown.
The route follows restored towing paths, once used by horses to pull barges, and traverses some of the most beautiful scenery in the North Island.
You will pass 13 locks, the remains of the old bridge, a wealth of information boards about the canal, and the villages of Jerrettspass, Poyntzpass and Scarva.
In Skava, you can take a detour to visit the ancient Terryhoogan Aqueduct and the idyllic Lough Shark, which is popular with fishermen.
14. Kilna Sagat Standing Stone
Two kilometers south of Jonesboro lies a two-meter-high rock carving, one of the oldest in Ireland.
The Kilnasaggart Standing Stone dates back to the 8th century and is located on the site of an early Christian cemetery: excavations reveal a group of graves arranged radially around this central pillar.
There are 13 Celtic crosses on the stone, along with an inscription that reads “This place, bequeathed by Temoc, son of Ceran Bic, under the patronage of the Apostle Peter.”
15. Seascope Lobster Hatchery
On the Kielkeel coast, Seascope Lobster Hatchery is the only marine laboratory in Northern Ireland that welcomes visitors.
From Monday to Saturday, you can visit to learn about the work being done to protect European lobsters, blue mussels and Pacific oysters.
Hatcheries grow lobsters from egg to juvenile, and you can learn about the process, handling lobsters and learn about fisheries, the marine environment and sustainability.
There are also kid-friendly exhibits, arts and crafts, and interactive displays for kids.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Newry, Northern Ireland
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