Categories: Itineraries

Co. Armagh & Co. Down, 3 day itinerary

You’re about travel centuries into the past.

This tour takes you from learning about the Linen Trade in Northern Ireland to intergalactic exploration to an Iron Age settlement. From Medieval Cathedrals to a cutting-edge tribute to our patron saint. Enjoy learning about the famous Armagh Bramley Apple and experiencing the wonderful food products of Strangford Lough and the beautiful scenery and gardens of Co. Down. You’ll see all this and more in just over two days. This is going to be special.

Day 1

Ferguson’s Irish Linen Factory

Here you’ll have one foot in 1854 when Ferguson’s was established, and one foot in the 21st century as you witness the modern weaving process. As the last maker of quality Irish Damask linen, this is a great opportunity to witness rare skills and buy some exclusive gifts.

Blossom to Bottle Experience and Lunch

The Troughton family are all about apples – but not just any old apples. They have grown the unique and internationally recognised Armagh Bramley apple for over 100 years and five generations, and recently recreated the craft of making them into a range of award-winning ciders. Their farm is located in the ‘Orchard County’ of Armagh, where even St Patrick is said to have planted an apple tree, in an ancient settlement east of the city. A tour at the Armagh Cider Company begins exactly as you’d hope, with a welcome drink of apple juice or hot spiced apple, and some traditional shortbread. You will learn about everything “from blossom to bottle”. The 80 acres of beautiful orchards here change season by season, from soft pink blossom in spring, to bountiful harvest in autumn, when they are carefully picked by hand (one rotten apple spoils the barrel, as they say).

Navan Centre and Fort

A place where myth and reality meet. It is one of Ireland’s most famous and important archaeological sites, the legendary Emain Macha. Have you ever wondered about the past? How did people live their lives 2,000 years ago? What were their homes like? How did they survive? What were their daily tasks? Allow our Living History characters to bring these questions to life before your eyes. This memorable and interactive experience takes place in our replica Iron Age dwelling. Sit down by the fire and witness Iron Age life come alive. Enjoy helping the Celts prepare and cook their meals and get your hands dirty in the garden and herb beds. Prepare yourself for battle and learn the skills to survive as an ancient warrior, or sit and relax and allow your imagination to wander as the great tradition of storytelling is used to pass on some of the history of the area and the great warriors who once lived here.

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral

This is where St Patrick established his centre of Christian learning in Ireland and it’s the seat of the Archbishop of Armagh in the Church of Ireland. On a tour, you’ll see 24 stained glass windows, the Belfry with its eight bells and the plaque to Brian Boru.

St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

This twin-spired cathedral is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh. On a guided tour, you can climb the steeple as the bells ring out, and stop at the choir balcony for a jaw-dropping view of the magnificent interior.


Day 2

Hillsborough Castle Experience

To understand Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle is a good place to start. This is the Queen’s official Northern Ireland residence, and the site of some of the region’s biggest discussions and decisions: past, present and future. At Hillsborough, you are experiencing history in the making. On a 45-minute tour of the elegant Georgian castle, in the charming village of Hillsborough, Co. Down, you follow in the footsteps of world leaders, through plush and lovingly restored State Rooms including the Throne Room, State Drawing Room, Lady Grey’s Study, State Dining Room, Red Room and Stair Hall. There are many layers of stories here, and your guide will share hundreds of years worth of tales, about celebrations, entertainment, diplomacy and negotiations. Standing in these rooms, where pivotal decisions have been made, you get a true sense of Hillsborough Castle’s important.

Scrabo Tower

Climb the hill to Scrabo Tower and witness views that have hardly changed since 1857 when the tower was built. Look across Strangford Lough, the largest sea inlet in the British Isles, over to Scotland and south to the Mourne Mountains.

Mount Stewart House and Gardens

Located on the shores of Strangford Lough in Co. Down Mount Stewart House and Gardens is one of Northern Ireland’s much-loved family homes. Following a three year £8 million restoration programme, this 19th-century house has been significantly transformed, making it a must-see attraction on the island of Ireland. The house’s Italian-inspired formal gardens and beautiful wooded areas were recently voted one of the top ten gardens in the world. Amazing photo ops abound!

St Patricks Visitor Centre

Go back to where the story of Ireland begins, with the life of the patron saint in the 5th century, celebrated at the St Patrick’s Visitor Centre. Explore his life and legacy in the interactive galleries, then relax in the café, with views towards the Cathedral of Down and St Patrick’s Grave.


Day 3

Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen

“My kitchen may not be the tidiest or the fanciest,” Tracey says of her home on the shores of Strangford Lough in Co. Down. “But it is certainly lived in and loved.” Everything here in Tracey’s farmhouse, from homemade buttermilk soda bannock (bread) to hearty wheaten bread, is made with love. When you arrive at the traditional thatched cottage, the first thing that greets you – even before you spot Tracey at the front door in her flour-covered apron – is the smell of fresh baking. The aroma fills the air and leads you inside to a big farmhouse kitchen table laden with traditional breads, sweet treats and tray bakes (another Northern Irish delicacy) made early that morning, accompanied with local butter and jam. “Make yourselves at home and tuck into everything on the table,” says your warm-hearted host, brewing up hot tea and coffee.

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Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen
Visitor Centres & Museums
Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen

Visit the last remaining Irish Linen weaver – Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen A visit to Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen offers visitors a rare opportunity to see Irish Linen at its various stages of production.

Armagh Cider Company
Tailor-made Tours
Armagh Cider Company

Armagh Cider Company is a family business based at Ballinteggart House where apples have been grown for five generations. Walk through the orchards, experience the cidery and bottling plant before tasting our award winning ciders and juices.

The Navan Centre and Fort
Visitor Centres & Museums
The Navan Centre and Fort

The Navan Centre, located just two miles from the Cathedral City of Armagh, interprets one of Ireland’s most important ancient monuments, Navan Fort; the ancient capital and seat of the Kings of Ulster.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral (Roman Catholic)
Churches & Sacred Sites
Saint Patrick's Cathedral (Roman Catholic)

This imposing cathedral, on an elevated site, was started in 1840, but work was suspended during the Great Famine of 1845-48 and recommenced in 1854 when J. J. McCarthy was appointed architect. It was dedicated for worship in 1873.

St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Churches & Sacred Sites
St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral

Saint Patrick founded his chief church here on the Hill of Armagh in 445AD, and there has been a Christian church on the site ever since. The present building dates from the 13th Century and was last restored in 1834.

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Nature and Wildlife
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Hillsborough Castle is one of the most beautiful, and interesting historic properties in Northern Ireland. Hillsborough is the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland.

Scrabo Tower
Nature and Wildlife
Scrabo Tower

Scrabo Country Park is centred at the top of Scrabo Hill near Newtownards and boasts incredible views over Strangford Lough and the surrounding countryside.

Mount Stewart
Garden
Mount Stewart

Mount Stewart is a stunning estate in the beautiful scenic area of Strangford Lough. The Formal Gardens are ranked as one of the top ten in the world and the within the house there are collections of national and international significance.

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

The Saint Patrick Centre is the starting point for any visitor who wishes to know more about Ireland’s patron saint. The exhibition Ego Patricius – The Story of St. Patrick, explores Patrick’s legacy, and recalls the saint’s story, in his own words.

Tracey's Farmhouse Kitchen
Cookery School
Tracey's Farmhouse Kitchen

Tracey's cottage is located only 30 minutes from Belfast in a Marine Nature Reserve on Strangford Lough. Join her to make Soda and Wheaten Breads and to enjoy a feast of homemade treats around the Farmhouse Kitchen table. A hands on experience.