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KINGDOM OF MOURNE
& ST PATRICK TOUR
'This is one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland and indeed the world'
A traditional Irish song sings of a Banbridge girl as "the star of the County Down," but the true attraction of this part of Northern Ireland is toward the county's southern end where -- in the words of another popular song -- "the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea."
This single line, the refrain of a ballad written by Percy French, is all most people know of the Mournes, a tightly packed range of granite hills only seven miles across, containing a dozen peaks over 2,000 feet.
The ancient Kingdom of Mourne, never a kingdom in the true sense of the word but somehow, in its rural grandeur, deserving of the name. A kingdom should have its walls, and Mourne, it seems, has only walls, its multiple farms delineated by an endless crisscrossing of drystone. Greatest of all the walls is the 22-mile-long Mourne Wall, running up and down the mountainside, built between 1904 and 1922 from local granite and connecting 15 summits, including Ulster's highest, Slieve Donard, at 2,796 feet.
The Mourne country is best approached in a roundabout way, starting with the coastal road, which begins properly where the water widens at Warrenpoint, looping around through Rostrevor and Kilkeel toward Newcastle, 25 miles distant. Rostrevor is the prettiest of these places, a well-kept village enjoying a protected site on its own bay, with the steep wooded slopes of Slievemartin pinching in immediately to the east.
After we visit the beautiful kingdom of The Mournes we take you on a journey and trace the footsteps of the world famous patron saint of Ireland - Saint Patrick.
With festivals celebrated in his name, and people coming from all over the world to trace his journey, here is the land that made St. Patrick a legend.
Discover the ancient sites and monuments linked to his life and legacy.
The tour includes an unforgettable trip to the glorious countryside of County Down and visits to Saul Church, Saint Patrick’s first church in Ireland; Struell Wells, pre-Christian wells that have been a place of healing for fifteen centuries; Inch Abbey, where the story of Saint Patrick and the snakes was recorded; Historic Downpatrick to uncover Saint Patrick’s legacy and see the Downpatrick High Cross in Down County Museum, the St Patricks visitors center and then finally a spiritual and quite moving visit to his final resting place in the shadow of Down Cathedral.