Enthralling heritage and culture in the East Border Region
The gifted works of Patrick Kavanagh, the fantasy world of Jonathan Swift and the trail of St Patrick…
Tell me more about the region’s cultural connections?
There has to be something pretty spectacular about an area that has inspired some of the world’s literary giants. Take Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh, who was born and bred in Inniskeen, County Monaghan. In mid-July, the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen sets aside a day to commemorate the poet’s artistic journey through a series of readings. Jonathan Swift found insight for his fantasy tale Gulliver’s Travels from time spent at GosfordCastle and the surrounding Forest Park, County Armagh. Bagenal’s Castle in Newry is a beautifully restored 16th Century house and home to the Newry & Mourne Musuem. And finally, Patrick Bronte, patriarch of the novelist sisters, taught and preached his first sermon at the site of the Bronte Homeland Interpretive Centre Banbridge, County Down. For more heritage sites, click here.
And the Celtic connections?
In such an historical spot, you’d be foolish to miss out on key places, such as the ancient site of Navan Fort and the Ti Chulainn Centre in Mullaghabane, County Armagh, which is set in the heart of the Ring of Guillon – the historical boundary between Ulster and Leinster – and has a long tradition of music, song, dance, Irish language, folklore and history; Greencastle Royal Castle in Kilkeel, County Down, which was an occupied fortress for over 350 years; the Celtic Cross and Round Tower in Clones, County Monaghan, which originates from the 9th Century; Monasterboice in County Louth where you can find the remains of fifth century St Buite; and the Proleek Dolmen in Dundalk, County Louth, where legend has it that if you throw a coin in the air and make a wish, it will be granted if your coin lands on the cap stone.
What about the Christian heritage of the area?
Evidence of this can be found at a myriad of centres – just check out St Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex in Armagh City, where you can trace the story of Armagh City in Pagan times through to the coming of St Patrick and Celtic Christianity all the way up to modern day Ireland. You can even follow the trail of the great man with our Christian Heritage Route; or if you simply want to split your time between Down and Armagh, our In the footsteps of St Patrick trail will direct you towards the highlights around these two counties. Bangor Abbey, meanwhile, is a wonderful place to visit and has a distinguished scholarly tradition associated with St Comgall and St Columbanus.