A superb Links Golf Experience is always the order of the day at Kirkistown Castle; this is further enhanced by the myriad of things to do and see out and about in County Down. For the golfing fanatics, be spoiled by the range of superb parkland and links course experiences (hyperlink to ‘sponsors & links’ page) and top this off with the many wonderful things that our County has to offer – here’s a few suggestions:
“Game Of Thrones®” Country
- Visit Castle Ward, which may be more familiar as Winterfell from the hit TV series “Game Of Thrones”. Castle Ward overlooks the picturesque Strangford Lough. Inside this beautiful 820 acre historic walled demesne you will find the spectacular house, an exotic sunken garden and a haunting woodland. Castle Ward is the prime location for Winterfell and the lands surrounding Winterfell in the North.
- Stay nearby in The Cuan, and who knows you may be rubbing shoulders with some of the cast!
- Wine and dine in The Cuan with the finest locally sourced food and friendly atmosphere.
Feel The Need For Speed?
- Kirkistown Race Track - has been home to the 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland since 1953. In addition to car racing activities, the track is used for several motor cycle race meetings during the year. Motor cycle track days are a popular feature during the summer months. Kirkistown provides a home for Race School Ireland, an ARDS-approved racing drivers school run by former driver Stanley Chambers. Spectators welcome on race days and the circuit is available for private hire and club days throughout the year. Kirkistown is the only club-owned circuit in the British Isles and has provided a home for Northern Ireland motor sport for more than fifty years. http://www.kirkistown.com/index.php
- Kirkistown Point-To-Point Horse-Racing – the North Down Hunt runs the Kirkistown point-to-point races periodically throughout the year. Just around the corner from the Golf Course, the races draw large crowds and is a very popular day in the local area. Enjoy a drink and try your luck with a bet or 2!
Belfast, our vibrant Capital City
- Titanic Belfast is the world's largest Titanic visitor experience and a "must see" visit in any tour of Belfast and Northern Ireland. It is located in Titanic Quarter, right beside the historic site of this world famous ship's construction. Housed in an iconic 6-floor building, this state-of-the-art visitor experience tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end.
- Samson & Goliath – Harland & Wolff’s two great yellow-painted gantry cranes Samson and Goliath, have become icons of Belfast, dominating not just Queen’s Island but the entire city skyline.
- The Belfast City Sightseeing hop on–hop off open-top bus tour takes in the city’s most impressive and evocative sights including Titanic Quarter, the Shankill and Falls Roads, and the more sedate Queen’s Quarter.
- The present St. George's Market, built 1890-1896, is one of Belfast's oldest attractions. The market is home to some of the finest fresh produce, with customers travelling near and far to sample the delights of Friday, Saturday and Sunday markets.
- Or simply shop ‘til you drop in the City Centre and the wonderful Victoria’s Square.
The Mourne Mountains & Newcastle
The Mournes stand true to the words of songwriter Percy French as the place ‘where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’. They are not only one of Ireland’s most scenic areas and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), they are quite simply an adventurer’s paradise.
- Tee off at top golf courses
Home of the world-famous Royal County Down, host venue to the 2015 Irish Open. County Down is simply a golfer's paradise.
- Get active outdoors
The Mournes area is ideal for outdoor pursuits, from walking, cycling and horse-riding to more extreme options like mountain boarding and coasteering.
- Climb Slieve Croob
Walk to the summit of Slieve Croob, an outlier of the Mourne Mountains and take in the stunning views of the range. Make sure to visit the impressive Legananny Dolmen nearby.
- Learn first-hand about sea-food
Try a hands-on course at the Mourne Seafood Cookery School in Kilkeel - you can even cook your own lunch!
- Enjoy a gig in atmospheric surroundings
A former church, the Brontë Music Club is an intimate and unique venue with links to the famous literary family. http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/mournes/
The Land of Saint Patrick, Strangford Lough & The Historic Ards Peninsula
- In the graveyard surrounding Down Cathedral in Downpatrick you can visit Saint Patrick’s Grave. Tradition has it that on his death Patrick’s remains were loaded onto an ox-cart, which was then allowed to seek out his final resting place. His grave is marked with a large stone and cross engraved with the name Patric.
- Further information about his intriguing life can be found at the Saint Patrick Centre which takes you on a Journey using film and video, and focuses on Saint Patrick’s own words drawn from a confession made near the end of his life. Nearby an impressive collection of early Christian artefacts from carved stone crosses to works of art and material relating to the Saint can be found at the Down County Museum.
- From the town you can take the steam train on the Downpatrick and County Down Railway through Saint Patrick’s country to the ruined Cistercian Inch Abbey where medieval scribes recorded many early Christian legends. Three miles from Downpatrick is the quaint and peaceful Saul Church which stands on the site which is thought to have been the first ecclesiastical site in Ireland. From here you can also visit the holy wells at Struell, known for their reputed healing powers or experience the views at the top of Slieve Patrick.
- At Strangford take the ferry across to Portaferry and travel to the village of Greyabbey which is known for its antique shops. It is also home to one of the finest examples of anglo Norman ecclesiastical architecture in the ruin of what was once Grey Abbey.
- Overlooking Strangford Lough Scrabo Tower sits majestically above the market town of Newtownards and is the perfect location to enjoy some of the finest views of the area. Scrabo Tower is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known landmarks. Overlooking Strangford Lough and the whole of North Down, the Tower provides visitors with some of the finest views in the country. An exhibition and audio-visual show provide information on the history of the building, Scrabo Hill and surrounding countryside. The paths through Killynether wood and the disused sandstone quarries all offer the opportunity for quiet countryside enjoyment. Check website for opening times: www.ni-environment.gov.uk
- While in the Ards Borough it is a must to take time and enjoy the sights around you. With Strangford Lough at its heart, one of the largest inlets in the British Isles and the Irish Sea on the outside coast stretching from Donaghadee to Portaferry with long strands of sandy beaches ideal for walking and wildlife spotting, you have the best of both worlds.
- The Lough is the most important site in Ireland for breeding Common seals and internationally it is important as in October a large percentage of the world's Pale-bellied Brent Geese come from Arctic Canada while in the summer about a quarter of all Ireland's Terns nest on the islands of the Lough. There are plenty of vantage spots to stop dotted around the miles of outstanding coastline.
- Mount Stewart
Celebrated landscaped park; European Garden of Inspiration 2003. Dramatic views across the Lough from the Temple of the Winds. Former home to a fascinating array of political leaders and society figures. Motte and rath in grounds.
- Cooey Wells, Portaferry
Foundations of a small church, rows of stones & three holy wells, now a place of pilgrimage. Long association with St.Cowey - the efficacy of the waters of the wells are acknowledged by the locals.
- Tullyboard Windmill, Portaferry
Built by the Savage family in 1771, it had two sets of millstones but was completely destroyed by fire on Christmas day 1878. Only the mill stump remains – still an important navigational aid to shipping coming up the lough.
- Portaferry Castle
Early 16th century three storey towerhouse, overlooking the narrow straits at the entrance of Strangford Lough. Town car parking and by shore. Beside tourist information centre.
- Kircubbin Harbour
Quay, slipway and mooring - one of the earlier 19th century, or later 18th century, structures in the Lough, and key to the development of Kircubbin.
- St Patrick’s Church Lisbane
Built in 1777. The statue of St. Patrick was brought from Scotland to Ballywalter and then by horse and cart to Lisbane. Location for the 1991 film, December Bride.
- Ardkeen Rath and Church/Graveyard
Strategically set on the tip of a peninsula on the east shore of Strangford Lough, with panoramic views. Remains of a 16th century tower-house. Beside ruined 13th century church with interesting graveyard and coffin lids.
- Derry Churches
Two ruined churches lying side by side. Finds included souterrain ware, medieval wares, bronze & iron pins & fragments of millefiori glass.
Intact example of a rural settlement dating from early times. Small exhibition and walks by shore.