Newry has long been a frontier town, guarding the land route from Dublin to Ulster through the 'Gap of the North', the pass between Slieve Gullion and the Carlingford hills, still followed by the main Dublin–Belfast road and railway. Its name derives from a yew tree (An tIúr) supposedly planted here by St Patrick.
The opening of the Newry Canal in 1742, linking the town with the River Bann at Portadown, made Newry a busy trading port, exporting coal from Coalisland on Lough Neagh, as well as linen and butter from the surrounding area.
Newry today is a major shopping centre, with a busy market on Thursday and Saturday. It's invaded at weekends by shoppers from the South taking advantage of the euro exchange rate and the relative bargains available across the border.