Saint Patrick's Statue on Slieve Patrick
County Down has long been associated with Ireland’s patron Saint, Saint Patrick, whose presence is especially felt in the town of Downpatrick, which takes part of its name from the Saint. In Downpatrick, and County Down as a whole, you’ll find many instances of St. Patrick’s continued influence.
It is said that when St. Patrick first came to Ireland, he was swept off course and ended up at Saul in County Down. He managed to convert the local chieftain, Dichu, to Christianity and in return St. Patrick was given a barn where he could hold services. He is said to have either passed away in Saul or was brought here between his passing and his burial. Today, Saint Patrick’s Memorial Church stands where it is believed that the barn that became St. Patrick’s first church once stood. On the nearby Slieve Patrick hill, you’ll find a large granite statue depicting St. Patrick with scenes from his life displayed in bronze panels at the statue’s base.
Not only is part of the town’s name derived from him but his influence can be seen throughout. Down Cathedral, in the town, is the fabled final resting place of the Saint and a place of pilgrimage for many on St. Patricks Day each year. The spot on which St. Patrick was buried is said to be marked by a large inscribed granite stone. The town is also home to The Saint Patrick Centre; the centre provides an in-depth look into the life and times of the Saint and how he came to be known the world over. The centre will give you the most detailed, as well as visual, look at Saint Patrick’s life found in any public exhibition throughout Ireland.
In recent year, Newry has become better known for its shopping than anything else. Nevertheless, Newry is home to Saint Patrick’s Church, which is believed to be the first ever protestant church to be built in Ireland. Newry’s cathedral is also officially named after the Saints Patrick and Colman.
Anyone planning a trip to Ireland to trace the roots of Saint Patrick will find most of what they're looking for here in County Down.
Self Catering in County Down
Self Catering in Northern Ireland
Words by John Temke
Image by John Murphy