In 1868, the parish of Downpatrick contained the following places:

"DOWNPATRICK, a parish, city, and market town, in the barony of Lecale, county of Down, province of Ulster, Ireland, 74 miles N. of Dublin, and 26¾ S.S.E. of Belfast by the Belfast and County Down railway, of which it is the terminus. It is a parliamentary borough, county town, and seat of the bishopric of Down. Situate on a group of little hills, on the S.W. shore of the W. branch of Lough Conn, or Lough Strangford, it consists of four principal streets, rising with steep ascent from the market-place in the centre; the chief of which are the English and Irish streets. In the former all the business is transacted. According to ancient usage, it is divided into three districts, called respectively the English, Scotch, and Irish quarters, and contains about 900 houses, mostly well built. The population, according to the census of 1861, was 4,310. The County Down railway connects the town with Belfast and Newtownards. It was anciently the residence of the native kings of Ulidia, and was originally named Aras-Celtair and Rath-keltair, one signifying the house, and the other the castle of Celtair; Ptolemy called it Dunum. Its present name is derived from its situation, and from having been the residence of St. Patrick. Between the years 900 and 1111 it was constantly ravaged by the Danes, who plundered and burnt it several times. In 1177 it became the residence of John de Courcy, by the defeat of McDunleve, its former possessor. Edward Bruce, in his invasion of Ulster, in 1315, marched here, and plundered and burnt part of the town. In 1538, owing to the wealthy abbots of this district having opposed the spiritual supremacy of King Henry VIII., Lord Grey, then lord-deputy, set fire to the cathedral and the town. It was again partly destroyed in 1552 by the Earl of Tyrone. In the war of 1641 the Protestants of the surrounding district having fled here for protection, it was attacked by the Irish under Colonel Brian O'Neil, who slaughtered many of the townsmen, and burnt a castle erected by Lord Okeham. Downpatrick had a corporation at an early period, the existence of which is recognised in 1403 by letters of protection, granted to it by Henry IV., entitled to the "mayor, bailiffs, and commonalty of the city of Down in Ulster." So early as 1585 this borough returned two members for the Irish parliament, which continued till the Union; since then one member only has been returned to the Imperial parliament. The petty sessions are held here on alternate Thursdays. The assizes, quarter sessions, and court-leet are also held here. The chief object of attraction in the town is the cathedral, situated on an eminence to the W. of the town; it is a stately embattled edifice, chiefly of unhewn stone, supported externally by buttresses. It remained a ruin till 1790, when it was restored, by a grant of £1,000 from government and liberal subscriptions from the nobility and gentry of the county, to its present external condition. The interior has been handsomely restored by Dr. Woodward, the present dean. It contains the mutilated effigies of St. Patrick, its founder, St. Bridget, and St. Columbkill; a monument to the memory of Cromwell, Baron Okeham; and another to his grandson, the Earl of Ardglass. There is also a parish church, the living of which is a rectory Also a Roman Catholic chapel, two Presbyterian and two Methodist meeting-houses. The county-hall occupies an elevated site in English-street; it is a large and handsome building, approached by a flight of stone steps. The centre of the hall is appropriated to the criminal court, the eastern wing to the civil court, and in the western are preserved the county records : it contains also a suite of assembly-rooms. The county gaol is another large erection; the internal arrangements of which are said to be excellent. Among the other principal buildings may be mentioned the barracks, the diocesan schools of Down, the infirmary and fever hospital, the Northern bank, the Ulster bank, almshouses, and widows' houses. It possesses also a public library and newsroom. The streets are well paved and lighted with gas. There is a considerable business in brewing, tanning, soap, making, &c. A small export trade is carried on by means of vessels from Lough Strangford, which discharge at the Quoil Quay, 1 mile from the town. There are several raths and forts in the parish; the most noted are the one near the cathedral and one at Ballykilbeg. About a mile from the town is the celebrated St. Patrick's Well, which is frequented by some for the waters, and others to perform penance. Downpatrick boasts of having been the birthplace of Duns Scotus. The Downpatrick Recorder is published in the town. Market days are Tuesdays and Saturdays. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday of each month. Races are held here in July, on an excellent course, 1 mile S. of the town."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2018