Places to See | Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
The Jewel in North Down
Holywood was named Sanctus Boscus (“Holy Wood”) by the Normans after the woodland surrounding a monastery founded by St Laiseran before 640. It was on the site of the present ruins of the medieval Old Priory. In the present day, the name is pronounced identically to “Hollywood.”
The town’s rich ecclesiastical heritage is represented today by its most distinctive building, the Old Priory. The oldest remains date from the early 13th Century. These days, Holywood is a particularly popular place to see in Co Down for its speciality shops including fashion boutiques, delis, and galleries.
Holywood also boasts Ireland’s only surviving Maypole dating back to 1700 when a Dutch ship ran aground off shore and as a show of gratitude they erected their broken mast. Today it is still the focus of the annual May Day Celebrations, one of the big events in the Ards and North Down calendar, when local school children dance around the maypole alongside market stalls and family attractions.
Address: Holywood, BT18 9AB