The spiritual centre of our area, Downpatrick is a beautiful and historic town built on the rolling drumlins of Lecale. One of the oldest towns on the island of Ireland, it has a long association with Saint Patrick who spent much of his time in and around the area and died here in the early 5th Century. His legacy remains and whether you come here on pilgrimage or just to simply say hello, there is a unique atmosphere in this small town that you won’t find anywhere else.

Find out more about Saint Patrick

The Saint Patrick Centre is something of a focal point in Downpatrick. Here visitors can find out all they need to know about Ireland’s patron saint. The Ego Patricius – The Story of Saint Patrick exhibition explores the legacy of Patrick and tells the saint’s story in his own words using a series of interactive displays and other historic items. The saint’s influence on the island cannot be overstated and here you’ll get a better understanding of his legacy beyond the celebrations you see every March 17th. 

The centre also functions as a meeting place for the St Patrick’s Pilgrim Walk along the Pilgrim’s Way. Your guides are two former Adoration Sisters who take small groups on a route through stunning countryside to visit important sites in the saint’s story. The trek itself is quite challenging in parts and can be completed in a day or done as two half-day trips. 

If you decide to explore the area alone, be sure to visit Saul Church two miles outside Downpatrick. This church was built on the quiet slopes of Slieve Patrick in 1932 to commemorate the saint's first church in Ireland. Close by, on the crest of Slieve Patrick is a huge statue of the saint with spectacular views across County Down. Bronze panels illustrate scenes from his life which ended on this very spot in 461.

Patrick’s body was later buried in the graveyard at the impressive Down Cathedral in the heart of Downpatrick and well worth a visit. Originally built in 1177 by John de Courcy the building you see today is the result of a long line of carefully executed and sympathetic restorations.

Get on board a steam train

While you may not be literally transported back to the fifth century you can travel back to the past on a real vintage steam train to Inch Abbey and King Magnus' Grave, on Ireland's only full-sized heritage railway. The Downpatrick and County Down Railway runs through the drumlin countryside of County Down and is a beautiful way to see the area. You hurtle (very slowly) over the River Quoile and under the graceful Down Cathedral to the peaceful ruins of the 12th Century Inch Abbey. Rather wonderfully the track that you travel on has been laid by volunteers and train enthusiasts.  The Downpatrick and County Down Railway is seasonal.  Trains run on weekends during the summer with other special events at St. Patrick's Day, Easter, May Day, Halloween & Christmas.

Be sure to stop by Ireland’s oldest surviving Coaching Inn, Denvir’s. This spot has been welcoming guests and giving them shelter since 1642. There have been one or two upgrades since then but they have lost nothing of their legendary welcome. Sit in beside the 17th Century fireplace and enjoy a lovely lunch made from the finest locally produced fare.
At the Down Arts Centre they know how to put on a show. This venue produces a busy programme of events and exhibitions all year round and now boasts a craft shop specialising in the best of regional craft. Well worth a visit if you have the time - with so much to choose from in Downpatrick, you might find it a little tight!

The Saint Patrick Centre
Visitor Centres & Museums
The Saint Patrick Centre

The Saint Patrick Centre is the only permanent exhibition in the World about Ireland’s Patron Saint. The History of Ireland starts here in Patrick’s words, which guide you through our amazing multimedia exhibition. Located 2 Hours north of Dublin and 35 minutes south of Belfast beside Saint Patrick’s Grave with a fantastic Craft Store and incredible Garden Cafe. This needs to be your first stop in Ireland.

Saul Church
Churches & Sacred Sites
Saul Church

Two miles outside Downpatrick is the replica of St Patrick's first church in Ireland. Close by, on the crest of Slieve Patrick is a massive statue of St Patrick. Bronze panels illustrate scenes from the life of Ireland's Patron Saint.

Down Cathedral and Saint Patrick's Grave
Down Cathedral and Saint Patrick's Grave

Down Cathedral, a Cathedral of the Church of Ireland with magnificent stain glass windows, box pews and beautiful organ case was built in 1183 as a Benedictine Monastry. The patron saint, Patrick is believed to be buried in the nearby graveyard.

Restaurant at Denvir's Coaching Inn
Front entrance to Denvirs Coaching Inn and view of Downpatrick town,

A charming Coaching Inn dating from 1642 providing bed and breakfast with restaurant service daily and entertainment four nights per week. Meals can be served in the restaurant, the bar, and in either of two function rooms, suitable for larger parties.

Down Arts Centre
Arts Centre
Red brick exterior with town hall clock of Down Arts Centre that sits at the junction of Irish Street, English Street and Scotch Street.

Located in the heart of Downpatrick, Down Arts Centre is the operational base for the arts in Downpatrick and the surrounding area.

Downpatrick & County Down Railway
Steam Railway
Downpatrick & County Down Railway

Travel back to the past with real vintage steam trains through St. Patrick's Country, over the River Quoile and under the graceful Down Cathedral to peaceful ruins of Inch Abbey.