County Down, A Country Within A County.
St Patrick's Cross
What can I tell you about County Down on the east coast of Northern Ireland? I can put my hand on my heart, and truthfully tell you that it is as diverse as you want it to be, it is wild and beautiful. There are forests and mountain ranges, sandy beaches and loughs, history and culture, and the friendliest people on earth.
I moved to Northern Ireland sixteen years ago, and instantly fell in love with the county and it's people. County Down is known as "Little Ireland", because of it's very nature, resembles something of all the counties in Ireland; as an island.
Stunning countryside of small farms separating land with the old traditional dry stone walls. Beautiful park lands and forests to lose yourself in, and take the time to get back in touch with nature. Soft white sandy beaches where you can still expect not to see another living soul in sight, or if you prefer, you can join the bucket and spade brigade on a busier beach. Smelling of sun tan oil and full of day trippers eating the famous Maud's ice cream, or fish and chips.
Stunning city's such as Belfast and Lisburn; full of architecture and a superb choice of high street shopping. Night life from clubs and disco's to the quaint typical Irish pub with the Irish music of ballads and knee slapping, and if that is not choice enough, join the theatre to watch splendid shows and musicals; or visit the casino to while your money away, and if all else fails to please, catch the latest film showing in the cinema.
County Down is not short of sports either, with fabulous golf clubs, horse riding, white water rafting, surfing, clay pigeon shooting, bowls and bowling or simply walking along the coast, or inland in the stunningly landscaped parks.
Quaint markets, such as St. George's market in Belfast. Farmers markets and craft markets, car boot sales and auction rooms, National Trust properties or agricultural shows, they are all here to be enjoyed.
As diverse as the scenery, we have restaurants to serve every taste and pubs from theme pubs to the oldest pub in Ireland, situated in Belfast city. We have the patron saint of Northern Ireland, St Patrick's cross in Downpatrick, with numerous landmarks to honour his existence. Fascinating church's and church ruins, castles and manor houses. In fact I can not think of anything that we do not have.
Bands and parades to delight the spectator, horse racing and greyhound racing to tickle gambling taste buds. Dancing and outdoor music to listen to the fiddle and flute. Quad bike racing and speedway racing to enthral the spectators and of course the most famous event of the year, The Balmoral Show.
In addition there are bird wet lands, Belfast Zoo and Botanic Gardens. Museums, to suit everyone including Cultra with it's delightful show of old Irish living, and rare breeds society. In fact County Down has it all.
This is a place to visit in winter or summer. Winter months are usually mild, but wet. Summer months are usually mild and wet, but hey, that is why we have such beautiful green countryside. County Down is well worth a visit if only for the black stuff, a good pint of Guinness and in March, the shamrock.