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Lecale & Downe History
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Lecale & Downe Historical Society
The Lecale and Downe Historical Society is based in Downpatrick, the County Town of Down in Northern Ireland. Downpatrick is situated in County Down some 20 miles south east of Belfast about 15 miles from the Mountains of Mourne whose distinctive profile 'sweeping down to the sea' are visible on the southern horizon. Click for location map. We meet regularly in the Down County Museum, one of the foremost local museums in Ireland. The site is illustrated throughout with images of Lecale. For information about the images hover your mouse pointer over them. Click on images for larger - sometimes different - versions (in most cases). We hope you enjoy your visit.
The site has a section on historical resources containing Griffith's Valuation for Lecale and, as an on-going project, the complete transcription of the 1901 Census of Ireland for the area, as well as descriptive articles about the main places in Co. Down in the 1830s and several sets of correspondence by 19th century emigre families.
The site also provides a complete listing of the 26 journals that the Society has published since 1984, with a short summary of each article. In addition, there is a list of all the authors and contributors and a complete index of titles. Although most are out of print they are available on CD-ROM.
Lecale, centred on Downpatrick, is the historic barony that includes Strangford, Saul, Inch, Ardglass, Killough and Dundrum. The Society is one of the longer established and most consistently active local historical societies in Ulster. Since 1974 it has organised events both to inform its members and to encourage more general interest in the heritage of Lecale and adjacent areas of east Down. It is a charity with the aim of assisting community by promoting the study of history and the environment. Membership is open to all who subscribe to its aims. Members are entitled to attend the lecture programme and other events organised by the society, and to participate in elections to the executive committee. Society newsletters and a free copy of our journal are additional benefits of membership.
The name Lecale is derived from the ancient gaelic "Leath Cathail" which means "Cathal's portion"; Cathal being a prince of Uladh about 700 A.D. An even earlier name "Magh-Inis" - the island plain - reflected the area's geography. Indeed some people in the area still use the name Isle-Lecale. Until about 200 years ago, when the first sea barriers were constructed and drainage began, the sea; Strangford Lough, the Irish Sea and Dundrum Bay, almost encircled the whole of the area.
On one of our low hills stands a giant statue of St Patrick, symbolically looking out from Lecale into the rest of Ireland. It commemorates the fact that this is the area where Ireland's patron saint both began and ended his mission. Today the land surrounding the market town of Downpatrick, with its ancient cathedral, is still largely rural. Many people commute to the city of Belfast to work, and within Lecale the principal occupations are centred on farming, fishing, tourism, and the service industries.
6 November 2013 Lecale News No.34 is now available...>more
15 February 2013Lecale News No.31 is now available...>more
10 December 2012: Lecale Review 2012 now available...> more
19 September 2012: The 2012-2013 Programme is now available...> more
31 May 2012 News of new publication...> more
29 May 2012 Annual Outing 18 June...> more
7 January 2012 Lecale News No 29 is now available...> more