St Patrick’s Trail

Armagh to Bangor

3 Days
  • Coastal Views
  • Beaches
  • Family
  • Armagh Planetarium
  • Granite Trail
  • Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
Must-see

Follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick as you travel along the St Patrick’s Trial. The journey begins in County Armagh, stopping of at his burial site in Downpatrick and ends in Bangor County Down.

Every year on March 17, the Irish across the globe celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green. On this three-day trail, you will see some examples of impressive Northern Ireland architecture showcasing its colourful history and also have the opportunity to meet the locals and hear stories of St Patrick passed down through generations.

Day 1

Armagh to Newry

Fondly known as the Orchard County Armagh may be one of the smallest counties in Ireland but it has no shortage of history, culture and scenic landscapes to make a visit worthwhile. Few cities could be more beautiful than Armagh during the apple blossom season when ‘The Orchard of Ireland’ comes alive.

Take a walk along the Mall

Relax in the city with a walk along The Mall a beautiful Georgian tree-lined central promenade.

Stop by the Armagh Public Library, containing a first edition of Gulliver’s Travels, complete with Jonathan Swift’s handwritten notes in the margins. You will also find the 17th and 18th century books belonging to Archbishop Robinson.

Explore St Patrick’s Cathedrals

Remnants of St Patrick are everywhere in Armagh, the skyline is dominated by spires of its two Saint Patrick Cathedrals.

The Church of Ireland Cathedral is located on Sally Hill, with a wonderful view stretching for miles. Druim Saileach (Sally Hill) is the location St. Patrick chose as the base from which to spread his faith, he first built a stone church in 445 A.D. on the site where the cathedral stands today.

Located directly opposite less than a mile apart is the twin-spired Catholic St Patrick’s Cathedral. Guarded by two magnificent marble archbishops and flanked by seven flights of steps to the arcade of statues peering down from the main exterior doorway.

No.5 Vicar’s Hill

At No. 5 Vicar’s Hill you will see the sparkling collection of gems and early Christian artefacts collected by Archbishops Robinson and Beresford.

Keep your eyes peeled for the macabre-sounding Bell of the Blood, reputedly blessed by St Patrick. Remarkably for a structure that is almost 250 years old the building has retained many of its original features.

Finish at Armagh County Museum

The oldest county museum in Ireland is set on The Mall. Armaghs County Museums collections capture centuries of stories relating to the people who lived, worked and had connections with this famous city, all reflecting Armagh’s leading role in early Christian Ireland. Take a walk through the museum before jumping back into the car for the short drive into Newry.

Armagh Planetarium

Armagh Planetarium

Armagh Planetarium offers visitors a unique experience which is quite simply ‘out of this world’, learn more about interplanetary activity with a visit here.

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Gosford Forest Park

Gosford Forest Park

Take a walk through Gosford Forest Park a perfect day out for the whole family.

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Navan Centre and Fort

Navan Centre and Fort

Explore one of Northern Ireland's most important archaeological sites where both myth and relaity meet.

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Day 2

Newry to Downpatrick

Before setting of for Downpatrick spend the morning in Newry and explore Bagenal’s Castle. Downpatrick is one hour’s drive from Armagh city though we suggest stopping of in the seaside town of Newcastle at the foot of the Mourne Mountains on the way.

Bagenal’s Castle

Bagenal’s Castle is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1153 the building contains a set of robes from the order of St Patrick and is well worth a visit.

Today little evidence of the Abbey survives above ground level. A 12th century slab of granite bearing a Celtic cross was salvaged from a nearby building and placed in a wall in McCann’s bakery.

Downpatrick

Symbols and relics of St Patrick are littered throughout Downpatrick with the name itself translated from Irish the meaning Dún Pádraig is “Patrick’s stronghold” making Downpatrick a vital part of the St Patrick Trail.

The St Patrick Centre

Beginning at The Saint Patrick Centre the only permanent exhibition in the world focusing on Ireland’s Patron Saint and therefore a must see on the Saint Patrick’s Trail.

The exhibition opens with an exploration of Patrick’s Roman background and the world to which he would come – that of Celtic Ireland – literally ‘a land at the end of the World’.

Down Cathedral and St Patrick’s Grave

Down Cathedral is recognised as the burial place of St Patrick and marks one of the most important stops on the trail. It is believed that the cathedral itself is buried on the site of a Benedictine monastery built in the 12th century.

Venture inside and marvel at the stain glass windows of depicting the other saints from Down; Brigid and Columcille, St Patricks grave is marked with a large granite stone.

Down County Museum

Down County Museum situated at the top of the town helps bring the rich heritage of County Down to life through fascinating exhibitions and hands-on activities.

Visitors can explore the history of the old Gaol of County Down taking you on a journey through 9,000 years of history. If you are feeling brave venture into one of the restored cell blocks containing life size figures of prisoners and their gaolers.

Inch Abbey

Located on the north bank of the Quoile River, Inch Abbey was founded by John de Courcy in atonement for his destruction of Erenagah Abbey. The buildings are mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries while it is believed the church is older than that at Grey Abbey which was built about 1193.

Its role in the story of St Patrick is important as it was on this site that John de Courcy commissioned the monk Jocelyn to write the life of Saint Patrick and with it came the tales of banishing snakes from Ireland. Aside from its links to St Patrick it has also been used as a scene from Game of Thrones episode titled: ‘King in the North’.

Saul Church

If you visit Downpatrick with the intention of exploring the story of St Patrick then you simply must include a visit to nearby Saul.

Saul is where St Patrick is said to have landed and after converting the local chieftain he was given a parcel of land with a barn in which he could hold his services.

This barn is long gone but now replaced with a small church on the same spot overlooking the region. It is beautiful and spiritual. Close by, on the crest of Slieve Patrick is a huge statue of the saint. Bronze panels illustrate scenes from the life of Ireland’s patron saint.

Struell Wells

The Struell wells are situated just outside the town of Downpatrick once a site of pilgrimage that was famous throughout all of Europe. Of all the wells throughout Ireland dedicated to Saint Patrick, the Struell Wells must be the most famous.

It is said that Saint Patrick travelled throughout Ireland using wells to baptise his new converts and in some cases to demonstrate the power of God with healing acts or with expressions of powerful piety and dedication.

Finish the evening with a leisurely stroll through Downpatrick topped with a bite to eat and a relaxing drink in one of the towns many Bars and Restaurants.

Shopping in Newry

Shopping in Newry

If you enjoy shopping you will not be disappointed in Newry with two shopping centres for you to enjoy.

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Newcastle County Down

Newcastle County Down

Visit the seaside town where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

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County Down Railway

County Down Railway

Learn more about the rich heritage of County Down brought to life in fascinating exhibitions in the museum.

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Castle Ward

Castle Ward

Visit Castleward a beautiful area with lovely walking paths alongside Strangford Lough.

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Day 3

Downpatrick to Bangor

Day 3 of the Saint Patricks trail takes you along the Ards Peninsula with views to enjoy over Strangford Lough along the way. There is a stop at Grey Abbey on the outskirts of Newtownards before arriving at Bangor the final stop on the trail.

Stop off at Grey Abbey

The little village of Grey Abbey is beautiful, the abbey is well worth a walk around a Cistercian Abbey church with living quarters founded in 1193 by Affreca wife of John de Courcy, the Anglo-Norman invader of East Ulster.The Abbey is set in the landscaped parkland of the 18th Century Rosemount House with Inch Abbey, Grey Abbey is the best example of Anglo Norman Cistercian architecture in Ulster.

Seaside Town of Bangor

Bangor is a popular seaside town situated on Belfast Lough not far from Belfast city centre. Bangor Marina, Clandeboye Estate and the nearby Ulster Folk & Transport Museum are all popular attractions in the Bangor area.

Bangor Abbey

There are no distinct links to Saint Patrick at Bangor Abbey, though its importance in Irish history of that period is clear. St Comgall founded the Abbey in 558AD and it grew to become one of the most important seats of learning in Ireland, with almost 3,000 monks at the time of Comgall’s death in 601AD. Two of its most famous students, Columbanus and Gall, travelled throughout Europe setting up monasteries in Luxeuil, Bobbio and Breganz. Artefacts from the monastery’s earliest period can be viewed in North Down Museum.

Last stop North Down Museum

Located near Bangor Town Hall North Down Museum has a very strong connection with the early Christian period. Unique to the Museum it has the only complete Folio of Plantation Maps in Ireland, the Raven Maps. These have been digitised and you can see the digitised maps with their additional content and the originals in their Plantation Room

Scrabo Tower

Scrabo Tower

The undulating maritime landscape of North Down has been watched over for more than a century by the Londonderry Monument, commonly known as Scrabo Tower.

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Bangor Marina

Bangor Marina

Let the children play in the Pickie Fun Park while you watch the boats come into the Marina.

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Crawfordsburn Country Park

Crawfordsburn Country Park

Take time out from the St Patrick's Trail and enjoy a walk in the open air of Crawfordsburn Country Park.

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Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Set in over 170 acres of rolling countryside, this outdoor museum tells the story of life in early 20th century Ulster.

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