Down County Museum

Down Museum, The Mall, Downpatrick: Photo - Patrick Devlin

This is a community museum helping to explain the history and environment of County Down. It occupies the restored buildings of the old Down County Gaol, built between 1789 and 1796. This is the most complete surviving Irish Gaol of its type and period. Its best known prisoner was the United Irishman, Thomas Russell, who was hanged at the gateway in 1803.

In the Governor's Residence, where the gaoler used to live, are modern displays on the history of the county, and a shop. In the Cell Block at the back of the complex visitors can see genuine eighteenth century cells in which people were held for prison terms, for execution, or for transportation to Australia.

The museum occupies the same hill whose ancient fort or 'dun' gave its name to the town and county of Down, and which is now crowned by Down Cathedral.

Photo: Pat Devlin