Things to see and do in the area

Set at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and in 2 acres of gardens we are 400 yards from Tollymore Forest Park. 1 mile from The Royal County Down Golf Course and 1 mile from the beach. We offer maps and guides to make it easy to take in all the surrounding sites and beauty spots.

We have an award winning cinema in Newcastle Town Centre: Newcastle Community Cinema. Please click here for more information.

We have an Artisan Food Market once a month. Please click here for more information.

Many may enjoy the golfing and hillwalking Newcastle has to offer for others perhaps, a drive through the Mourne Mountains taking in Silent Valley, famous for having no echo! A walk in Castlewellan Forest Park, – visiting Europe’s largest maze or take a stroll though the National Trust’s Murlough Nature Reserve.

The local Fishing Harbours of Kilkeel, Annalong and Ardglass are worth seeing. Visit Downpatrick, the County Town of Down, which is full of history, Struel Wells, St Patricks Grave and the St Patrick’s Heritage Centre. A few more miles from Downpatrick is the National Trust property of Castle Ward, famous for its quirky architecture and beautiful gardens. A 40 min drive will take you to the cities of either Newry or Belfast for a shopping spree!

There is bird watching in Tollymore Park as well as Castlewellan Park which is famous for the Red Kites. “Wingers” Information from Bird Watch Ireland. Downloads as a PDF.

Find out more about the historic market town of Castlewellan. Please click here for more information.

Take a look at A Beginner’s Guide to The Mournes. The Mourne Mountains (or the Mountains of Mourne) form the highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland. With breath-taking views across the Irish Sea and an intricate map of weaving paths to explore, they are high on any keen hiker’s to-do list.

Here is a guide to Hiking Slieve Donard: Everything you Need to Know which we think you will enjoy.

Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze. Hosting one of Northern Ireland’s most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails, 27km of Mountain Bike Trails, Nature Play perfect for the kids, an onsite multi-activity centre, hedge maze and equestrian centre, Castlewellan Forest Park boasts all of this and more making it a must-visit for all ages.

Castlewellan Park Lake

Castlewellan Park Lake

Welcome to the Mournes

The Mourne Mountains, also called the Mournes or Mountains of Mourne, are a granite mountain range in County Down on the south-eastern coast of Northern Ireland. The highest of these, the Slieve Donard, is the 7th highest peak in Ireland at 850m The Mournes is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is partly owned by the National Trust and sees many visitors every year. The name Mourne (historically spelt Morne) is derived from the name of a Gaelic clann sometimes called the Múghdhorna. The Mournes are visited by many tourists, hillwalkers, cyclists and rock climbers throughout the year. The Mourne Wall is among the more famous features in the Mournes. It is a 35km dry-stone wall that crosses fifteen summits, constructed to define the boundaries of the 36km2 area of land purchased by the Belfast Water Commissioners in the late nineteenth century to establish a water supply from the Mournes to the growing industrial city of Belfast. Construction of the Mourne Wall was started in 1904 and was completed in 1922.

The Briers Country House, with its proximity and easy access to the Mournes is the perfect base for visitors to explore the cornucopia of history, heritage, geology, folklore, culture and experience all the activities that await.

Annalong (from Irish: Áth na Long, meaning “ford of the ships”) is a small coastal village only a 15-minute drive from the Briers.

Be sure to visit the 19th century Annalong Cornmill, one of the last working watermills in Northern Ireland and features in one of the most iconic images of the Mournes, situated alongside the picturesque harbour with the stunning backdrop of the Mourne Mountains. In 2014 it was sensitively restored to its former glory using traditional materials and skills.

the briers country house local information

To further enhance the visitor experience, a new multimedia interpretation programme brings the story of the Cornmill to life, describing the production process of vital oatmeal for local farmers and tells the story of Mourne granite, giving visitors an insight into this industry which has put Mourne on the map at a national and international level, providing building stone and skills to cities including Belfast, Manchester, London and New York. (A section of the Princess Diana memorial in Hyde Park is made from Mourne Granite) Many remnants of this industry still exist in the local area and an app has been developed to interpret these for visitors. “The Mourne Granite Story” is a free app that is available for download from both Apple and Android platforms. A further story is told, explaining the role that the 19th century Annalong harbour played in relation to the Cornmill, transportation of the Granite and the local industry.

Fishing tragedy 13th January 1843

On 13 January 1843, boats from Newcastle and Annalong set out for the usual fishing stations and were caught in a gale. 14 boats were lost in the heavy seas including a boat which had gone to the rescue. Only two boats survived, the Victoria and the Brothers. 76 men perished, 30 of whom were from Annalong.

A row of twelve cottages were built a short distance from the harbour to provide homes for the widows and children who suffered the greatest loss.’ Widows Row’ still overlooks the harbour from where the men who perished set of.