Narrow Water Castle
Carlingford's heritage centre is in the former Holy Trinity Church. A mural shows what the village looked like in its heyday, and a short video describes the village history and explains what has been done to give it new life in recent years after villagers got together to revive a dying community.
Carlingford was first settled by the Vikings, and in the Middle Ages became an English stronghold under the protection of the castle, which was built on a pinnacle in the 11th to 12th centuries to control the entrance to the lough. On the western side, the entrance gateway was built to allow only one horse and rider through at a time.
Near the tourist office is Taafe's Castle , an imposing 16th-century tower house that stood on the waterfront until the land in front was reclaimed to build a short-lived train line. Today it's the storeroom of the attached pub Carlingford is the birthplace of Thomas D'Arcy McGee (1825–68), one of Canada's founding fathers.
The Newry Canal runs parallel to the river through the town centre, and is a focus for the city's redevelopment.
This museum is housed in Bagenal's Castle, the town's oldest surviving building, with exhibits on the Newry Canal and local archaeology, culture and folklore. Recently rediscovered (having been incorporated into more recent buildings), the 16th-century castle was built for Nicholas Bagenal, grand marshal of the English army in Ireland.
Ring of Gullion
Surrounded by beech trees, these ruined, conjoined churches were constructed on the site of a 5th-century nunnery that was founded by St Moninna. The eastern church dates from the 15th century, and shares a gable wall with the 12th-century western one. The west door, with a massive lintel and granite jambs, may be 200 years older still.
Ring of Gullion
A 13km scenic drive through this forest park provides picturesque views over the surrounding hills. From the parking and picnic area at the top of the drive, you can hike to the summit of Slieve Gullion (576m), the highest point in County Armagh, topped by two early Bronze Age cairns and a tiny lake (1.5km round trip).
The dry-stone Mourne Wall was built between 1904 and 1922 to keep livestock out of the catchment area of the Kilkeel and Annalong Rivers, which were to be dammed to provide a water supply for Belfast. (Poor geological conditions meant the Annalong could not be dammed, and its waters were diverted to the Silent Valley Reservoir via a 3.6km-long tunnel beneath Slieve Binnian.
At the heart of the Mournes is the beautiful Silent Valley Reservoir, where the River Kilkeel was dammed in 1933. There are scenic, waymarked walks around the grounds, a coffee shop and an interesting exhibition on the building of the dam. From the car park, a shuttle bus will take you another 4km up the valley to the Crom Dam.
Just south of Bessbrook is Derrymore House, an elegant thatched cottage built in 1776 for Isaac Corry, the Irish MP for Newry for 30 years; the Act of Union was drafted in the drawing room here in 1800.
The courthouse is a fine neo-Gothic building with large Doric pillars. In the front square is the stone Maid of Éireann, commemorating the 1798 Rising.
The richly decorated 19th-century St Patrick's Cathedral was modelled on King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England.
Different floors in this worthwhile museum are dedicated to the town's early history and archaeology, and to the Norman period. One floor deals with the growth of industry in the area, from the 1750s up to the 1960s, including the cult classic Heinkel Bubble Car. Other oddities include Oliver Cromwell's shaving mirror.
Tollymore Forest Park
This scenic forest park , 3km west of Newcastle, has lengthy walks along the River Shimna and across the northern slopes of the Mournes. The park is littered with Victorian follies, including Clanbrassil Barn , which looks more like a church, as well as grottoes, caves, bridges and stepping stones.
The Patrick Kavanagh Rural and Literary Resource Centre is housed in the old parish church where the acclaimed poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904–67) was baptised; the staff have a passion for his life and work that is contagious.
Footpaths and boardwalks meander among the grassy dunes, with great views back towards the Mournes.
A less rugged outdoor experience is offered by Castlewellan Forest Park , with gentle walks around the castle grounds and trout fishing in its lovely lake (a three-day permit costs £8.50).