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



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