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County Down

County Down (named after its county town, Downpatrick) is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland.

Adjoined to the south-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,448 km squared, with a population of approximately 516,000.[citation needed] It is also one of the thirty-two counties of Ireland, lying within the historical province of Ulster.

Although Downpatrick is the county town, the largest town is Bangor. Newry lies on the boundary between counties Down and Armagh, while Lisburn and Belfast lie on the boundary between counties Down and Antrim. Down contains both the southernmost point in Northern Ireland (Cranfield Point) and the easternmost point in Ireland (Burr Point).

The county borders County Antrim to the north, the Irish Sea to the east and County Armagh to the west. It is one of only two counties of Ireland to presently have a majority of the population from a Protestant community background, according to the 2001 census. The other is County Antrim.

Places of Interest

An area of County Down is known as the Bronte Homeland (situated between Rathfriland and Banbridge, where Patrick Bronte had his church), after Patrick Bronte (originally Brunty), father of Anne, Charlotte, Emily Bronte, and Branwell Bronte. Patrick Bronte was born in this region.

The city of Newry in the south of the county contains St Patrick's (Church of Ireland, 1578), overlooking the city centre from Church street, on the east side of the city, which is considered to be Ireland's first ever Protestant church. Newry is also the home of the first summit-level canal ever to be built in the British Isles.

Down is also home to Exploris, the Northern Ireland Aquarium, located in Portaferry, on the shores of Strangford Lough, on the Ards Peninsula.The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn is one of Ireland's oldest hostelries, with records dating back to 1614. The inn claims that people who have stayed there include Jonathan Swift, Dick Turpin, Peter the Great, Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, former US president George H. W. Bush, and C. S. Lewis, who honeymooned there.

Scrabo Tower, in Newtownards, was built as a memorial to Charles Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.Saint Patrick is reputed to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, reputedly alongside St. Brigid[citation needed] and St. Columba[citation needed].

Saul, County Down (from the Irish: Sabhall meaning "Barn" - where Saint Patrick said his first mass in Ireland.

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