Carlingford Ireland: A day trip full of medieval charm
About Carlingford Ireland
What makes Carlingford an ideal day trip from Northern Ireland is the town’s character and accessibility, at mere 10 miles from Newry and 47 from Belfast.
Carlingford is the place to go after a few days of hectic seight-seeing, when you want to take it easy but still don’t want to play the couch potato.
We visited several times and never did we regret it.
The best way to Carlingford is down the A1 from Belfast direction or the A27 from Armagh, and just as you are exiting Newry follow the signs to Carlingford/Omeath.
From Newry onwards the road follows the coast of Carlingford Lough and is scenic and usually with little traffic. Feel free to stop at the quaint little villages on the way; this is not a rushed visit.
Things to See and Do
Once there park the park as close to the town centre and begin exploring.
The town is small enough that you will not need any other mode of transport neither will you feel you have walked a marathon by the end of your visit.
Carlingford Ireland - King John’s castle
Begin your visit with King’s John Norman castle, probably the town’s main attraction.
Construction of the castle began initially by Hugh De Lacy in 1190 it was completed in 1261.
It is named after King John, the brother of Richard the Lionheart, who visited in 1210.
The castle is modest in size and was built to guard the entrance to Carlingford Lough.
Entrance is free. Feel free to roam around and enjoy the views of the Mourne Mountains across the sea.
Other Sights in Carlingford Ireland
Once you have absorbed the Medieval atmosphere of the castle walk to the main town centre.
Make sure you don’t miss the Tholsel, the only town-gate remaining in Carlingford which once also served as a prison.
The Mint and Taaffe’s Castle are essentially fortified houses, the later once belonging to the famous Taaffee family.
Do visit Holy Trinity church.
Parts date from the Middle Ages. More importantly, it now functions as a local museum with photographic, audio-visual and material exhibits that outline the history of Carlingford and the area from Viking times.
The Dominican Friary is another place of historical interest.
Established in 1305 it was dedicated to the famous St. Malachy of Armagh.
After a tumultus history that involved King Henry VIII, it was abandoned in the 18th century as the friars moved to Dundalk.
Even as you are walking around town keep an eye out for Mr. De Gaulle.
No, there is no statue of the great Frenchman neither did he visit or leave his mark there (to my knowledge).
De Gaulle is rather the name the locals have affectionately given to sculpted stone head that appears on an old house. Someone jokingly placed a slate over it to resemble a hat and the name was coined.
A visit to Carlingford would be more complete if it includes Slieve Foy, the mountain at the foot of which the town nestles.
The mountain affords many hikes both for the amateur and for the more ardent hiker.
Even if you don’t feel like hiking, drive up the mountain road and enjoy the spectacular views afforded of Carlingford Lough and of the Mourne Mountains and towns of County Down across the lough.
View from Slieve Foy across Carlingford Lough into County Down and the edge of the Mournes
As you walk around Carlingford remember that what gives the town its charm is not one or more spectacular sights, but rather the medieval look of all the above buildings and the narrow lanes, portions of old city walls, and the restaurants and cafes offering traditional Irish food and sweets.
So if you miss a sight don’t worry; just ensure you absorb the atmosphere.