6 ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day at the home of the Patron Saint
Immerse yourself in the spirit of Ireland’s patron saint by exploring the St Patrick’s Trail. Travel across Down and Armagh as you discover the historical sites that influenced St Patrick’s Christianity crusade.
1. Start your journey in the town of Downpatrick, known as ‘Patrick’s stronghold’. Standing tall on the site of a 12th Century Benedictine Monastery, Down Cathedral boasts magnificent stain glass windows, traditional box pews and a beautiful organ case. It is here, marked by a huge granite stone, where Saint Patrick was laid to rest. Visitors can pay their respects at the grave which overlooks the town and attracts pilgrims from across the world. Book in advance to take a guided tour.
2. Just a short walk from the Cathedral you will find the Saint Patrick Centre. Wander round the only permanent exhibition in the world dedicated to Saint Patrick, exploring the life, lessons and legacy of the Saint – in his own words.
The interactive displays will take you on a journey through early Christian times and showcase the artwork and metalwork that was produced during this Golden Age.
Drop in to the Garden Café on the first floor for a quick pit stop before setting off to the next location on your adventure.
3. The next stop will take you just two miles outside of Downpatrick to the parish of Saul. Said to be the first ecclesiastical site in Ireland, this was where Saint Patrick built the first Church - a replica of which now stands here.
4. A ten-minute drive from Saul will bring you to your abode for the night, at the Ballymote House. Expect a warm welcome at this family country house nestled in the heart of St Patrick’s country.
Surrounded by wonderful gardens, spectacular mountains, deserted coastline and unspoilt countryside, this is the perfect place to relax and reboot after a day of activities.
5. Wake up feeling refreshed, before setting off on day two of your break – this time to Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland to visit two stunning cathedrals that both bare Saint Patrick’s name.
Perched on hills in Armagh, St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral and St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral offer great serenity and splendour to all who visit them. Marvel at the stunning architecture, stained glass windows and fascinating Christian heritage.
6. Once you’ve learned all there is to know about Saint Patrick, celebrate his life and legacy at the Home of Saint Patrick Festival from the 8th – 19th March.
Encompassing events across Armagh and Down, this festival promises an unrivalled mix of regional and international music, theatre, spoken word, art and comedy, showcasing the stunning locations where Saint Patrick walked and worked.
With an eclectic programme of events, you are sure to find something that will get you dancing and singing this Saint Patrick’s season.
Other nearby attractions
Armagh Public Library
With light pouring in through Georgian windows, this classical library is lined from floor to ceiling with rare and beautiful books. There are some 42,000 printed works, covering subjects such as early medicine, science, history, law, politics, theology and travel, as well as maps and atlases.
Down County Museum
This restored 18th-century Gaol makes an ideal day out for couples, families and individuals. Take a journey through 9,000 years of history through the 'Down Through Time' exhibition or visit the restored cell block with life-size figures of prisoners and their gaolers
No 5 Vicars' Hill
Visit the restored Grade A listed building which was first built as the Diocesan Registry in 1772. Now home to collections such as ancient coins, gems, significant prints and early Christian artefacts, visitors can explore its fascinating interior with many of its original features. View old maps of Armagh, a timeline of the history of religious leaders from St. Patrick to the present Archbishop and the arrival of the Vikings
To plan your St Patrick’s Day break visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.
Belfast Telegraph Digital