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(from Irish: Dún Pádraig, meaning "Patrick's
stronghold") is a medium-sized town about 33 km (21 miles)
south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the county
town of Down with a rich history and strong connection to Saint
Patrick. It had a population of 10,316 at the 2001 Census. Downpatrick
is where Down District Council has its headquarters.
the largest town in the Lecale area, Downpatrick is a commercial,
recreational and administrative centre for the locality and serves
as a hub for the nearby towns and villages. Within an hour drive
of Belfast, the location serves as a commuter town for a large number
of people. The town has a number of primary and post-primary schools
educating students from all over the east Down area.
is one of Ireland's most ancient and historic towns. It takes its
name from a dún (fort), which once stood on the hill that
dominates the town and on which Down Cathedral stands. Ptolemy,
about the year AD 130, includes it (in Latin) as Dunum in his list
of towns of Ireland. The old name of the town was Rath Celtair named
after the fictional warrior of Ulster called Celtchar (in modern
Irish: Cealtachair) who resided there and who fought alongside Ulster
King Conchobar mac Neasa ( anglicised Conor Mac Nessa ) and is mentioned
in the Ulster Cycle and, in particular, the Táin Bó
Cuailgne . The name was superseded by the name Dún Lethglaise
then Dún Dá Lethglas which in turn gave way, in the
13th century, to the present name of Dún Phádraig
(anglicised as Downpatrick) - from the town's connection with the
patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick was reputedly buried here in 461 on Cathedral Hill,
within the grounds of Down Cathedral. His grave is still a place
of pilgrimage on St Patricks Day (17 March each year). The Saint
Patrick Visitor Centre in Downpatrick is purpose-built to tell the
story of St Patrick.
From the seventh century the dominant power in Ulster were the Dál
Fiatach so much so that the title "Rí Uladh" could
simultaneously mean "King of Ulster" and "King of
the Dál Fiatach". County Down was the ancient centre
of the Dál Fiatach lands, and the chief royal site and religious
centre of the Dál Fiatach was at Downpatrick from where they
ruled Ulster for centuries.
In 1137, St. Malachy after resigning as Archbishop of Armagh, separating
the two dioceses and appointing another as Bishop of Connor, became
the Bishop of Down. He administered the diocese of Dún dá
leth glas (Down) from Bangor and introduced a community of Augustinians
(canons) to Dún dá leth glas dedicated to St. John
the Evangelist and repaired and enlarged Down Cathedral.
After having received a grant of Ulster from King Henry II of England,
Norman Knight, John de Courcy set out from Dublin in early 1177
to take possession of it. He marched north to with a force of 20
knights and 300 men and reached Downpatrick four days later. Downpatrick
was an open ecclesiastical town of the old type and the invaders
rode in and surprised it in the small hours of February 2. De Courcy
attacked the fortress and administrative centre of Rath Celtair
(the Mound of Down), defeating and driving off Rory MacDonlevy (Ruaidhri
Mac Duinnshleibhe), King of the Dál Fiatach and Ulster (Ulaid).
In 1183, John de Courcy brought in some Benedictines from the abbey
of St. Werburgh in Chester (today Chester Cathedral) in England
and built a cathedral friary for them at Downpatrick. This building
was destroyed by an earthquake in 1245.
In 1260 Brian O'Neill (Brian Ua Néill), King of Tír
Eoghain (Tyrone) and who had been acknowledged as High King of Ireland
by Hugh O’Conor of Connacht and Tadhg O’Brien of Thomond
marched to Downpatrick, a centre of English settlement, and, allied
with a Connacht force under Hugh O’Conor, fought the foreigners
in the Battle of Down. The battle took place outside the city of
Down and O'Neill, 8 Connacht lords and many others died. The death
of Brian O'Neill and the defeat of the Irish was lamented by the
Cenél nEógain bard Gilbride MacNamee (Giolla Brighde
Mac Con Midhe)(1210–1272) in a poem.
Locations in Northern Ireland / Ireland that we cover:
Derry / Londonderry Donaghadee
Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown , South Dublin, Wicklow,
Wexford, Carlow, Kildare, Meath, Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Longford,
Westmeath, Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny, Waterford City , Waterford,
Cork City, Kerry, Limerick City, Tipperary, Clare, Galway, Mayo,
Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal