Down County Museum

Places to See | Co. Down, Northern Ireland.



At Down County Museum the rich heritage of County Down is brought to life in fascinating exhibitions, lively events, hands-on activities and award winning education programmes.

As one of the main Museums and Galleries in Northern Ireland, Down County Museum collects, conserves and exhibits artefacts relating to the history of County Down from the earliest times until today.


The museum is located in the historic buildings of the 18th-century County Gaol of Down. The old Gaol of Downpatrick was opened in 1796 and until its closure in 1830 housed many thousands of prisoners.

In addition to incarcerating many people for very minor offences, the gaol held 1798 rebels captured after the battles of Saintfield and Ballynahinch and the United Irishman, Thomas Russell, executed for his role in the abortive rebellion of 1803. The gaol was also a convict gaol and many hundreds of transportees were imprisoned here prior to their journey to the convict colonies of New South Wales, Australia

The prison complex covers one acre and contains three main structures. These comprise a cell block to the rear, a central Governor’s Residence and two gatehouses flanking the main entrance, all set within a high perimeter wall.

Today visitors to the museum can see one of the most complete surviving Georgain gaols in Ireland. A floor of restored cells conjures up something of the atmosphere of over 200 years ago. This certainly makes it a fascinating family attraction in Northern Ireland and a “must see” place to visit in Co Down.

Address: Down County Museum, The Mall, English Street, Downpatrick, Co. Down BT30 6AH



2 Responses to Down County Museum

  1. Hello, I have just come across your site and am wondering whether you would have any information on a Mary McPolan alias Murphy born 1816 in County Down who was sentenced to 7 years transportation to Australia in 1843 on the ship Greenlaw and arrived Tasmania in July 1844. Mary had a daughter Catherine Murphy aged 8 years born 1836 who was sent with Mary to Grangegorman Prison in 1843 prior to departure to Australia. Mary was convicted in County Down for stealing 3 pigs from Mr James McCarthy and prior to that had a conviction for “leaving her child”. The father of Catherine Murphy was named as Andrew Murphy.
    Mary is my g/g/g/grandmother and I have recently found that she is buried in Mortlake, Victoria, Australia having died in 1878. Catherine married an Alexander Stewart in Geelong, Vic. Aust. in 1852, died in 1905 at the age of 7o yrs, and is buried in Hamilton, Victoria, Australia
    I would love to hear from you as to whether you may have any information on Mary or Catherine.
    Kind regards
    Gail Williamson
    Mt Gambier,
    South Australia

    Gail Williamson September 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm Reply
    • Hi Gail.

      Thanks for the comment. We can’t help you with your request specifically here as we’re not a genealogy service. Recommend you try to contact Down Museum directly on +44 28 4461 5218 or mail@downcountymuseum.com. I’m sure they should be able to point you in the right direction.

      Have you tried http://www.ancestryireland.com also?

      Thomas September 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm Reply

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Downpatrick Town

We flew our drone over Downpatrick town and captured a couple of aerial 360° photographs. Look out for the marker points in the aerial virtual tours, some of which will allow you to jump from the sky down into some of the various visitor attractions found in the town.

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