Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Life

Old Ulster: Downpatrick

By Paul Carson

Published 01/04/2010

Downpatrick's Market Street, under a flood of water, mirrors the buildings. 9/5/1966
Downpatrick's Market Street, under a flood of water, mirrors the buildings. 9/5/1966
'Salt Box Row' on St Patrick's Avenue, Downpatrick. 13/2/1934
Left feeling a bit under the weather customers at Rea's Bar, Market Street, Downpatrick, have to wade through the water. 30/8/1956
Portaferry boys at St.Patricks High School, Downpatrick, crossing Strangford Lough on the ferry 'Jacqueline'. 1/9/1969
Gathering some of the golden daffodils growing in profusion within the shadow of Downpatrick Cathedral. 18/4/1963
Looking over the River Quoile to the spires of Down Cathedral, from the river edge at Inch Abbey. date unknown.
A workman and his dog cross the new tidal gate at the River Quoile, near Downpatrick. 28/9/1934
St Patrick's Day Parade through English Street, Downpatrick. 1939
Road traffic has been diverted for two weks in bottle-necked Scotch Street, Downpatrick, during the construction of the council's new sewerage scheme. 7/2/1956
St Patrick's grave in the grounds of Down cathedral, Downpatrick. 18/3/1965
Over looking the spires and rooftops of Downpatrick, with the mound ot Slieve Croob in the distance. 31/12/1955
Bringing out the big guns...Mrs Mary Kennedy, of Westlands, Downpatrick Road, Crossgar, who is well known in the area for her colourful garden arrangements, with her pride and joy which will be the centre of attraction at her home. 26/1/1977
Mr Joe McGreevy, his wife Eithne, and two-year-old son Brendan, at St Parrick's grave. The Bangor family were among the many visitors to Downpatrick Cathedral. 17/3/1981
Bridge Street, the oldest area in Downpatrick, which is to be given a face-lift under the re-development scheme. 14/11/1967
Bonecastle Primary School, Downpatrick, Co Down - June 1974, the last day at school before Bonecastle closed it doors for good. Back row, teacher Mrs Mary Press, Bernadette O'Hare, Janet Murray, Maria Smith, Briege Smith, Victor Dagens, Joseph Smith, John Lennon, Philip Murray, Diane Maginn. Front row: Adrian Smith, Dolores Maginn, Bronagh Smith, Monica Smith, Patrick Maginn, Kieran Maginn, Jerome Lennon, Stephen Murray, Jarlath Kearney and Shane Murray
A scenic shot of the tranquility of the River Quoile. 28/11/1951
Faced with the problem of bringing a new section of the road between Downpatrick and Belfast across the River Quoile, surveyors decided on an unconventional solution. They laid a series of large cylindrical pipes, as a foundation for the embankment across the river. The picture shows how these 30-foot long pipes were used to carry the road across the river, without affecting its flow. 5/7/1965
Bonecastle Primary School, Downpatrick - school play taken 1910s or 1920s
William Thompson, The Auctioneer, Downpatrick, 15/9/1979
Pupils and teachers at Bonecastle Primary School, taken 1966/67.
Members of the McKenna Accordion Band from Ballycran take part in the St Patrick's Day parade through Downpatrick. 17/3/1985
Church Leaders at Downpatrick. The leaders of the four main churches in the Province make their way from Down cathedral to lay a wreath on the grave of St Patrick. 17/3/1985
Bonecaslte Primary School, Downpatrick: Picture taken 1950s
International Ploughing Championships, Downpatrick, 13/11/1968 To purchase this photograph as large format canvas or acrylic visit Belfast Telegraph page on

If you look at Downpatrick today, it's hard to imagine that it was once a seaside town.

Up until the middle of the 18th century, tidal waters stretching from Strangford Lough almost encircled the town and at one time the hill on which Down Cathedral stands was virtually an island, connected to nearby land by a narrow causeway.

In an effort to reclaim land from the sea, local landowner Edward Southwell erected the first tidal barrage across the Quoile river in 1745, at a site near the bridge on the old Belfast road. Marshes were drained and land that was once swamped by seawater was turned into fertile agricultural ground.

Then in 1934 the construction of new tidal gates took place in an effort to provide even greater protection against flooding. These gates were equipped with self-acting sluices which closed when the tide of Strangford Lough began to rise and opened again at low tide to release flood water.

>>If you have any old pictures of Downpatrick which you would like us to publish please use submit box>>

In time, however, even this barrier proved to be inadequate and a new barrage was constructed in 1957 at Hare Island, close to the mouth of the Quoile river.

The permanence of the new barrier meant that Downpatrick was closed off to sea traffic forever. Quoile Quay and Steamboat Quay, which once provided berths for visiting ships from across the British Isles, were rendered completely useless by the construction of the barrage.

Although the barrier cut off Downpatrick's sea trading links, it did mean that the town would be protected from all but the most severe of winter floods.

Belfast Telegraph

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph