Newry is a city in Northern Ireland, with a population close to 30,000. The city is 43 miles from Belfast and 67 miles from Dublin and has the River Clanrye running through it, which forms the historic border between County Armagh and County Down.
In March 2002, as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, Newry was granted city status alongside Lisburn. Despite being the fourth largest city in Northern Ireland it is not the fourth largest settlement. Newry has long been an important centre of trade because of its position between Belfast and Dublin.
Newry is one of the country’s foremost shopping destinations with an array of traditional independent traders and multi-national retailers, which combine to provide great shopping opportunities. The town that was built on its trading traditions today still provides some of the best shopping in Ireland.
It is believed that Newry was founded in 1144 together with a Cistercian monastery, however there are several ancient references referring to earlier settlements in the abbey area, where it is believed the first religious foundation was that of St Patrick.
The city’s name originates from this story, with the old name being Iuir Cinn Tra (The Head of the Strand), which eventually was revised and shortened to the word Newry. The monastery founded by St Patrick was burnt in 1162 along with the yew tree.
The railways arrived in 1849 bringing not further development but subordination as traffic on the inland canal dramatically decreased and Belfast’s dominance in Ulster grew.
By 1881 the population of Newry had reached its 19th century zenith of 15,590 but from the turn of the century until the 1960s there was a period of decline as the inland canal, the mills, the tram and the railways all closed.
Newry saw several violent incidents during the conflict known as the Troubles. These went on into the late 1990s and even in 2010 – such as bomb scares and car bombs.
Tomm Moore, an Oscar nominated filmmaker, was born in Newry before moving to Kilkenny at an early age.
Luv Bug were a pop group who represented Ireland at the 1986 Eurovision Song Contest that originated from Newry.
Daybreak host Christine Bleakley was born in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry in 1979.
The Newry Canal opened in 1742. It is the oldest Canal in Ireland or Britain and runs parallel to the river through the town centre, and is a focus for the city’s redevelopment. A cycle path runs 30km north to Portadown, following the route of the canal.
Newry Ship Canal runs 6km south towards Carlingford Lough. Designed by Sir John Rennie, the civil engineer who designed Waterloo, Southwark and London bridges in London, the ship canal allowed large, sea-going vessels to reach Albert Basin in the centre of Newry.
Newry & Mourne Museum
This museum is housed in Bagenal’s Castle, the town’s oldest surviving building, with exhibits on the Newry Canal and local archaeology, culture and folklore. Recently rediscovered (having been incorporated into more recent buildings), the 16th-century castle was built for Nicholas Bagenal, grand marshal of the English army in Ireland.