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Top: Newry skyline, Middle: The Buttercrane, The Quays, Newry Town Hall, Bottom: Drumalane Mill, Newry Cathedral
|Irish grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||BT34, BT35|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
Newry (//; from Irish: An Iúraigh) is a city in Northern Ireland, divided by the Clanrye river in counties Armagh and Down, 34 miles (55 km) from Belfast and 67 miles (108 km) from Dublin. It had a population of 26,967 in 2011.
Newry was founded in 1144 alongside a Cistercian monastery, although there are references to earlier settlements in the area, and is one of Ireland's oldest towns. The city is an entry to the "Gap of the North", close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. It grew as a market town and a garrison and became a port in 1742 when it was linked to Lough Neagh by the first summit-level canal built in Ireland or Great Britain. In 2002, as part of Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee celebrations, Newry was granted city status along with Lisburn.
The modern Irish name for Newry is An tIúr (pronounced [ən̠ʲ tʲuːɾˠ]), which means "the yew tree". An tIúr is an shortening of Iúr Cinn Trá, "yew tree at the head of the strand", which was formerly the most common Irish name for Newry. This relates to an apocryphal story that Saint Patrick planted a yew tree there in the 5th century.
The Irish name Cathair an Iúir (City of Newry) appears on some bilingual signs around the city.
There is strong evidence of continual human habitation in the area from early times, where it is seen during the Bronze Age that Newry had a factory-type community who were producing in abundance very detailed jewellery for garments. Three of these Newry Clasps can be found in the Ulster Museum, and a massive arm clasp from the same period was also found in Newry. In recent times the survey for the new bypass revealed a number of standing stones on a central area down the Omeath Road. These, like many other finds, such as that of an ancient cave at the top of the Dublin Road area, have seemingly been noted and forgotten about. It is estimated that as many as 130 ancient sites were discovered at the top of the Camlough Road. Among them three Neolithic homesteads were discovered. At the time all were noted, and left to be destroyed by the new road. Standing stones were also seen on at least one of these sites, but they stand no more. In AD 820, the Danes made one of their "earliest irruptions at Newry abbey, from whence they proceeded to Armagh, taking it by storm, and plundering and desolating the country around."
In AD 835 the Danes again made a sudden incursion into Newry, with a large body of Danes landing at Inbher-Chin-Tra-gha, or Newry, and raided the area before attacking Armagh, where they set fire to the churches and university, plundering gold and other items from them and killing an estimated one thousand people in the city and surrounding area. The Victorian era historian James Henthorn Todd goes into further detail in his 1867 Volume, (Chronicles and memories of England and Ireland in the Middle Ages) recording that the abbey was attacked in AD 824. A small medieval town was on the site to the north and south of the abbey, which was rebuilt in 1142 (Keating G) by King O Carroll of the Oriel at the request of Saint Malachi (Ibid). The landing stage of the abbey was situated close to the western bank of the Newry River in what is now Kilmorey Street. From these early times it was the main pier and port of the town; it remained as such until the construction of the new canal took place. The abbey was later converted to a collegiate church in 1543, before being surrendered to the Crown in 1548. The abbey is seen to be giving its earnings to the Crown almost 200 years before this date. It is described as being one of the richest and largest in Ireland. The Vikings attacked the Abbey many times, slaughtering its occupants. The town was granted its first charter between 1157 by High King of Ireland Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn.
In 1162 the monastery was attacked and raided by Irish clans. De Courcy's lordship ensured a safe spell for the abbey after he had built several castles in and around Newry, These were typical Norman affairs, of motte-and-bailey construction.
In 1539 an English mercenary, Nicholas Bagenal, fled to Ireland after murdering a man in Leek, Staffordshire, apparently with the aid of his two brothers. After some time in the employment of the O Neill he reached a high status, was granted a pardon in 1543, and became Marshal of the army. During his early years in the Louth area he lived at Carlingford where his son Henry was born. Lord Bingham is seen sending Oriel labourers to Newry in 1546 at which time Bagenal is seen restoring the castle of Newry which belonged to Hugh O Neill being first built by John De Courcy in 1186 (De Arcy McGee See also Lewis 1815) Not long after this the Marshal, in 1552, secured a 21-year lease on the Newry property, which was confiscated from the Cistercians. The castle was then razed to the ground by Shane O Neill, who banished Bagenal from Newry in 1566.
The nearby convent was also part of the Abbey, and is mentioned in the Bagenal patent. A small medieval church can be found in its grounds. The abbey site is mentioned in the rent rolls of 1575, and said to consist of a church, a steeple, a cemetery, a chapterhouse, dormitory and hall, two orchards and one garden, containing one acre, within the precincts of a monastic college.
During the 1689 Raid on Newry Williamite forces under Toby Purcell repulsed an attack by the Jacobites under the Marquis de Boisseleau. At the period of the Battle of the Boyne, the Duke of Berwick set fire to the parts of the town which he had restructured to defend it, see Berwicks Journal, Schomberg sent troops in during the early hours of the mornings when seeing the flames, they successfully extinguished them. While it is believed that King William may have stayed at a Newry Castle, the story is a far-fetched one. King William took a portable wooden bedroom with him on this campaign, which he called his "coach". (see The Impartial History by Rev Story) The King refused to sleep in castles or houses, preferring to be amongst his men.
One of the main castles of Newry at this date was an ancient abbey building which stood at Mill Street corner, in the northwest end of the abbey complex. Its remains were finally demolished in 1965. The other abbey buildings were once used by Bagenal (30-odd years), as pigsties and stables, according to the O Neill website. These buildings lay neglected when King William passed through the town. For over 100 years they were nothing more than great massive stores or sheds in the background and not considered as part of the town. Isaac Corry demolished some of them in the early 1800s. Those he did not demolish were turned into homesteads or warehouses. Included were the 140 feet of the great church that was constructed in 1142. He demolished its altar and completely dug up the ancient graveyard beside the church, removing ancient bones by the cartload to St Mary's at Chapel Street. While there was deep mourning from the Catholics of the town at these actions, no one complained because of Corry's status. The graveyard is currently a carpark for Lidl and the great church is now a museum: Bagenal Castle.
By 1881 the population of Newry had reached 15,590. Newry Urban District Council was unusual in that during the period from the 1920s to the 1960s it was one of only a handful of councils in Northern Ireland which had a majority of councillors from the Catholic/Nationalist community. (The others were Strabane UDC and a handful of rural district councils.) The reason, according to Michael Farrell, was that this community formed such a large majority in the town, around 80% of the population, making it impossible to gerrymander. Also an oddity was that for a time it was controlled by the Irish Labour Party, after the left wing of the Northern Ireland Labour Party defected to them in the 1940s.
See also: The Troubles in Killeen, for information on incidents at the border and customs post at Newry on the border with the Republic of Ireland and close to Newry. In 2003, the hilltop watch towers were taken down. The Army withdrew from the area on 25 June 2007 when they closed their final base at Bessbrook. As there are no garrisons in the area the British Army has had no official presence in Newry or South Armagh since the end of Operation Banner.
Newry lies in the most south-eastern part of both Ulster and Northern Ireland. About half of the city (the west) lies in County Armagh and the other half (the east) in County Down. The Clanrye River, which runs through the city, forms the historic border between County Armagh and County Down.
The city sits in a valley, between the Mourne Mountains to the east and the Ring of Gullion to the south-west, both of which are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Cooley Mountains lie to the south east. The Clanrye River runs through the centre of town, parallel to the Newry Canal. The city also lies at the northernmost end of Carlingford Lough, where the canal enters the sea at Victoria Locks.
Newry is within the civil parishes of Newry and Middle Killeavy. The parishes have long been divided into townlands, the names of which mainly come from the Irish language. The following is a list of townlands in Newry's urban area, alongside their likely etymologies:
|Townland||Origin (Irish unless stated)||Translation|
Aghnaveigh (alternate local name)
|Alt na bhFiach
Achadh na bhFiach
|glen of the ravens|
field of the ravens
|Ballinlare||Baile na Ladhaire||townland of the fork/gap|
|Carnagat||Carn na gCat||cairn of the cats|
|Carnbane||Carn Bán||white cairn|
|Derry Beg||Doire Beag||little oak wood|
|Drumalane||An Droim Leathan||broad ridge|
|Lisdrumgullion||Lios Droim gCuilinn||fort of the holly ridge|
|Lisdrumliska||Lios Druim Loiscthe||fort of the burnt ridge|
|Townland||Origin (Irish unless stated)||Translation|
|Ballynacraig||Baile na gCreag||townland of the crags|
|Ballinaire||Baile an Iubhair||settlement of the yew tree|
|Carneyhough||Cárn Uí hEochadha||O'Haughey's Carn|
|Cloghanramer||Clochán Ramhar||thick stone structure/causeway|
|Commons||an English name that first appeared in 1810|
|Damolly||probably Damh Maoile||house of the round hill|
|Drumcashellone||Droim Caisil Eoghain||the ridge of Eoghan's cashel|
|Greenan||Grianán||eminent or sunny place|
Although officially a city, Newry is classified as a large town by Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with the population between 18,000 and 75,000 people).
On Census day (27 March 2011) there were 26,967 people living in Newry, accounting for 1.49% of the NI total. Of these:
As with the rest of Northern Ireland, Newry has a temperate climate, with a narrow range of temperatures, regular windy conditions, and rainfall throughout the year.
|Climate data for Newry, United Kingdom (1981–2010 normals)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.8
|Average low °C (°F)||1.7
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||108.9
|Source: Met Office (UK)|
Newry has a reputation as one of the best provincial shopping-towns in Northern Ireland, with the Buttercrane Centre and The Quays Newry attracting large numbers of shoppers from as far away as Cork.
In 2006 Newry topped the league of house prices increases across the whole United Kingdom over the last decade, as prices in the city had increased by 371% since 1996. The city itself has become markedly more prosperous in recent years. Unemployment has reduced from over 26% in 1991 to scarcely 2% in 2008.
Since the inception of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, shoppers from the Republic of Ireland have increasingly been crossing the border to Newry to buy cheaper goods due to the difference in currency. This owes to a combination of factors: the harsh budget in the Republic of Ireland in October 2008; the growing strength of the euro against the pound sterling and VAT reductions in the United Kingdom, compared with increases in the Republic of Ireland. This remarkable increase in cross-border trade has become so widespread that it has lent its name to a general phenomenon known as the Newry effect. In December 2008, The New York Times described Newry as "the hottest shopping spot within the European Union's open borders, a place where consumers armed with euros enjoy a currency discount averaging 30 percent or more".
However the increased flow of trade has led to resultant tailbacks, sometimes several miles long (many kilometres), on approach roads from the south. This has created huge traffic and parking problems in Newry and the surrounding area. It has also become a political issue, with some politicians in the Republic of Ireland claiming that such cross-border shopping is "unpatriotic".
The city of Newry is part of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The Newry, Mourne and Down District Council election, 2014 resulted in 3 Sinn Fein, 2 SDLP and 1 Independent councillors being elected in the Newry electoral area.
|Council members from 2014 election|
|District electoral area||Name||Party|
|Newry||Charlie Casey||Sinn Féin|
|Liz Kimmins||Sinn Féin|
|Valerie Harte||Sinn Féin|
|Michael Savage ‡†‡||SDLP|
Newry is part of the Newry and Armagh (Assembly constituency). In the 2017 elections, the following were elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly: Megan Fearon, Cathal Boylan, Conor Murphy (all members of Sinn Féin), Justin McNulty of the SDLP and William Irwin of the DUP.
Together with part of the district of Newry, Mourne and Down, Newry forms the Newry & Armagh constituency for elections to the Westminster Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Member of Parliament is Mickey Brady of Sinn Féin. He won the seat in the United Kingdom general election, 2015.
Saint Patrick's Church was built in 1578 on the instructions of Nicholas Bagenal, who was granted the monastery lands by Edward VI, and is considered to be the first Protestant church in Ireland. The Cathedral of SS Patrick and Colman on Hill Street was built in 1829 at a cost of £8,000. The structure, which consists of local granite, was designed and built by Thomas Duff, arguably Newry's greatest architect to date.
Incidentally, Thomas Duff also was the architect for the Cathedral in Dundalk, a town just over the border in County Louth, and it is said that he mixed up the plans for both cathedrals and sent Dundalk Cathedral to the builders in Newry, and Newry Cathedral to the builders in Dundalk.
Town Hall is notable for being built over the River Clanrye which is the historic boundary between the counties of Armagh and Down. The city also boasts a museum and an arts centre and, in recent years, has seen a number of art galleries being opened.
The impressive Craigmore Viaduct lies just north of the city on the Northern Ireland Railways Belfast-Dublin mainline. The bridge was designed by Sir John MacNeill with construction beginning in 1849. The bridge was formally opened in 1852. The viaduct consists of eighteen arches the highest being 126 feet, the highest viaduct in Ireland. It is around a quarter of a mile long and was constructed from local granite. The Enterprise Train link from Belfast to Dublin crosses the bridge.
The Newry Reporter every week highlights a historic building in Newry and the surrounding area, giving a brief outline of its history.
Kevin Mc Allister, Downtown Radio and Downtown Country Presenter, Broadcaster
Until 2012, Newry City F.C. played at the Showgrounds before being liquidated. A phoenix club named Newry City AFC was formed to play in amateur leagues in 2013, and was promoted to the NIFL Premiership in 2018.
The local amateur league, the Carnbane League was established in 1968. As of 2011 the teams competing in these leagues at senior level are:
The Down GAA team has its home ground at Páirc Esler in the city. Local clubs are Newry Bosco GFC, Newry Shamrocks GAC, John Mitchel GFC and Ballyholland GFC, all in Down GAA, and Thomas Davis GFC, Corrinshego and Killeavy St Moninna's GAC, both in Armagh GAA.
Newry RFC (also known as Newry Rugby Club, Newry RFU or Newry) is an Irish amateur rugby union club, founded in 1925. The club is a member of the Irish Rugby Football Union's Ulster branch. The club currently fields three senior teams and several junior teams ranging from under-12 to under-18 and a women's team for the first time in 2010–2011 season. The club's home ground is known as Telford Park. The team currently has two playing fields located at this ground along with the clubhouse on the outskirts of Newry.
Newry Olympic Hockey Club is located at the north of the city; the men's first XI currently play in the ONE1918 Senior 1 league.
Newry (town), County Armagh/County Down. The modern Irish name of Newry is An tIúr 'the yew tree' being an abbreviation of Iúr Cinn Trá 'yew tree at the head of the strand'. The anglicised form comes from An Iúraigh an oblique form of An Iúrach 'the grove of yew trees' (PNI vol. I).
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Newry.|