The Place...County Down , Northern Ireland. The Picture...you are driving along a road and see a sign which says "Welcome to the Kingdom of Mourne." The Perplexity.....Do you Stay or do you go ?? The Paradise that Awaits .........Need i say any more ?? !!!!!! OK ...just in case you`re not completely sure , i will say more !! But think of it....even the title , "The Kingdom of Mourne" holds with it mystery and beauty. Newcastle , County Down is the centrepiece of the Kingdom of Mourne. This is where everyone in Northern Ireland dashes off to on a Bank Holiday , and on such a day it is thriving and bursting with people. So what is there to do here ?? Well , ok , all you women out there....the world`s greatest shopping centre it isn`t !!..just a few shops scattered up and down its main street....but when you come here you won`t be worried about shops ok ?? The magic of the place will just hit you between the eyes , and you will be mesmerized...(or should that be MesmerEYES ?? hehehe). Everyone , as soon as they arrive in Newcastle , they head straight for the Donard Car Park which gives immediate access up to the mystical mountains. The most popular route is to trace a beautiful river up through a forest of trees.Then you come to a clearing and you can see a beautiful view of Newcastle and the vast sea also.If you want to adventure further you can proceed to climb up the Slieve Donard , the highest peak in the Mournes. OK...it is a wee bit steep for those out of practice like me....and it seemed like a hundred people passed me while i stoppped every two minutes and gasped for a breath !! But i even saw "oldies" doing it ......so there`s no excuse. What a wonderful view from the summit. The green of Northern Ireland everywhere to be seen , the other mountaintops (or hill tops hehehe) from Mourne too.....well worth it. Every little kid will remember the first time they climbe
d Slieve Donard ...i promise you !! OK this OP is going to get a bit long in the tooth , so i will try to give a quick summary of other places that are a must. You can drive along the beautiful coastline and then take a wee road up (well sign posted) to the Spelga Dam and the Silent Valley. People flock here in their droves every year. Want somewhere to relax ?? To get away from the rat race of life ?? Go to the Silent Valley , and you won`t be disappointed. Back in Newcastle itself , if you have kids , they will cry and tug on your coat and whine and moan and groan.....untilllllll .......you take them to one of TWO places. Number one.....the beach !! so bring your bucket and spade (bring one for the kids too hehhe).they will spend all day here making castles in the sand for daddy to wreck (big bully !! hehe) and they will explore for sea shells and run in and out of the c-c-c-c-c-c-coldddddd water hahaha ! no ....it isn`t always c-c-c-c-c-cold don`t worry !! Number Two will be of course the Amusements , better known to mothers as the BEMUSEMENTS .....as they watch red faced and embarrassed as their husbands relive their childhood again on the Dodgems !! This tip is for mums who have just gone through this embarrassment and need a "Pick-me-up" before you "bust -hIM- up"!! Go to Maud`s Ice Cream shop and ask for a Pooh Bear Ice Cream with marshmallows on top OK ?? there , there , there !!!! hehe) There is a play park in the centre of Newcastle too,with a BIGGGGGGGG slippery slide , you can get dizzy at the top !!! There is also an outdoor bowling green (remember to bring soft shoes) a putting green and crazy golf course , and rowing boats. All kids want their daddys to take them out on a boat , so , get your sea legs on all you landlubbers and ho ho ho and a bottle of rum (ok...i got carried away there ...it`s only a small lake....but who cares ?? (hehehe) and watch out for those little devils who lo
ve to splash everyone with their oars...you heard of boat rage ?? enough said !!! (heheehee) Just five minutes drive away is the little town of Castlewellan. This is another popular place , with its large Castle. You can`t get a tour inside but you can around its beautiful gardens , and kids love to come up to run around the Castle.There is a beautiful lake at the bottom of the Castle so bring bread for the ducks. You can also go canoeing here.(Ever seen a duck with a canoe-helmet on ?? Just curious !!) OK ..i had better finish before i put you all off to sleep !! Just one more thing.......it is cheap to stay here....you will get a guest house for next to nothing. People tend to come here for a few days break just. The place is also packed with caravans a-plenty. Every child will remember their caravan holiday in Newcastle.For all you Northern Ireland readers i will say 3 words. "Bonny`s Caravan Site"....magic ..eh ??? The wee caravan that opens half-door like a horse box !! , the smell of the gas lights (this is 1970`s i`m talking !!) running out to fill up the water , rolling out the seats into make-shift beds.......ohhhhh memories !! Where was i ??.oh yes....so come to the Kingdom of Mourne , come to Newcastle . The Price is Right , and the future is Bright !! Take Care all you readers.
Newcastle, County Down is my home town. I'm also pleased to say that it looks like a scene straight off of a picture postcard. Breath-taking scenery and the friendliest people you could hope to meet. In general, Northern Ireland has a very bad press with non-residents. Granted, some areas of the country are certainly worth avoiding, however, it's easy to be so taken over by the bad press and to totally miss the essence of the country. Imagine waking up in the morning and opening your bedroom curtains. The first thing I see every morning are the stunning Mountains of Mourne. Lush green hills sprinkled with vivid purple through the spring & summer seasons and topped beautifully with snow throughout most of the winter. These same mountains actually sweep right down into the sea. It's a sight that I never tire of gazing at. Newcastle, though, is not just about beautiful scenery. According to tourist board figures, it is the most visited town in Ireland, and its not hard to see why. We have a fabulous outdoor fun pool called the Tropicana. It consists of 2 separate pools, one for toddlers, the other for the more adventurous swimmer complete with a flume. This is the pool that is used mainly by tourists. There is another outdoor pool used mainly by us locals. It is known as the rock pool, as it is built into the rock of the harbour. It is a sea water poor, unheated, so it is usually cold enough to freeze the most unreachable body parts! My kids spend nearly every dry day of the holidays at the rock pool, and we all love it. Newcastle also has several really well equipped play parks. Downs Road park is a supervised play area with an adventure playground, go-carts and swings. You can sign your kids in for an hour and go off for an hour without the little devils, knowing that they are left in safe hands. Castle Park is about the biggest of the parks with a boating pond, miniature golf, a 'slippery dip' slide as
well as all the other usual features of a play park. All along the mane street are burger bars, pizza shops and ice-cream galore. Amusement arcades abound and there are plenty of good shops to buy just about anything you could ever need. Go out of the otwn centre, and you could visit Tullymore Forrest Park. This is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. It goes through the forrest at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, and is a fabulous place to go for a walk to get away from the bussle of the town. Newcastle has many little guest houses and hotels. Two of the best hotles would have to be the Slieve Donard & the Burrendale. Both have beautiful bars and restaurants, swimming pools & gyms and really great rooms. The beach in Newcastle in one of the best in County Down. The promenade leads directly to the Tropicana swimming pool, Newcastle Leisure centre, which offers a great gym as well as a venue for many of the plays put on locally. Every Sunday during the summer season, the promenade is also home to a free magic show and face painting for the kids. Add to all of that one of the top 10 golf courses in the world (the royal county down) ,dozens of excellent pubs and night clubs and the harbour itself, Newcastle has something for everyone. I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful area. It has been oficially designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. If any of you DooYooers are ever planning to visit Ireland, swing past Newcastle. You won't be disapointed.