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LEWIS' TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY

Dundrum

DUNDRUM, a maritime village, in that part of the parish of KILMEGAN which is in the barony of LECALE, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 1 mile (S.) from Clough, on the road from Newry to Downpatrick: the population is returned with the parish. This place is situated on an inner bay, about 1 mile long by a quarter of a mile broad, at the head of the larger one to which it gives name; and was distinguished for its ancient castle, of which though twice besieged and taken by the lord deputy, and finally demolished by Cromwell, there are still considerable and very interesting remains. It is said to have been built by Sir John de Courcy for Knights Templars, who kept possession of it till the suppression of their order in 1313, when it was transferred to the Prior of Down. On the dissolution of the monasteries, the castle, with several townlands, was given to Gerald, Earl of Kildare, and subsequently to the Maginnis family, on whose attainder it was forfeited to the Crown and granted to the Earl of Ardglass, it afterwards became the property of Viscount Blundell, from whom it descended to the Marquess of Downshire, its present proprietor.

The village, which previously consisted of one narrow street, containing only a few houses very indifferently built, has been recently much improved by the Marquess of Downshire, who has widened the old street and opened several new lines of road, and has promoted the erection of many neat and comfortable dwelling-houses. He has also built a spacious and commodious hotel, hot and cold baths, and adjoining the latter a lodging-house for himself, which is occasionally let to strangers during the summer. The principal trade is the export of grain, for which a small but convenient quay has been constructed by his lordship, who has also built warehouses and stores for grain. Fairs are held on Jan. 3rd, Feb. 5th. May 12th, Aug. 6th, and Oct. 10th.

The larger bay, which affords great facilities for bathing, extends from the foot of the mountain of Slieve Donard to St. John's Point, a distance of nine miles, and nearly four miles inland. The ground is mostly clean and the depth moderate, but the bay is exposed to severe gusts of wind from the Mourne mountains, the south and south-east winds send in a heavy sea, and vessels should never remain here unless when the wind is from the north or north-east.

The ground immediately outside the larger bay is said to be one of the best fishing grounds in the British seas, affording always in their respective seasons large supplies of excellent haddock, cod, whiting, plaice, sole, and turbot. The western shore is a continued range of sand hills, through which is an inlet deep enough to admit vessels of 50 tons laden with coal, lime, and slate to the quay at the village. In the inlet, during the summer months, there are large shoals of sand eels, to take which several hundreds of the neighbouring peasantry assemble every tide, and provide themselves with an abundant supply for some months.

The remains of the castle consist chiefly of a lofty circular tower of more than 30 feet internal diameter, built on the summit of a rock overlooking the bay, the walls and the winding staircase leading to the battlements are nearly perfect, but the roofs and the floors of the several stories have fallen in, and the vault or dungeon, deeply excavated in the rock, is exposed. The tower is surrounded by a deep fosse hewn in the solid rock, and on the east are the remains of two lofty bastions: the walls of the ancient gatehouse are still standing. Dr. Thomas Smith, consecrated Bishop of Limerick in 1695, was a native of this place.


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