N. Ireland by Region Co. Down




map of Co. Down
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The Towns






County Down is the most industrialised region in Northern Ireland, encompassing urban and parts of greater Belfast. Covering an area of 945 square miles, the Down landscape is both varied and breathtaking, from the majestic Mourne Mountains in the south to a two hundred mile coastline in the north of golden beaches and natural harbours.

Affectionately known as 'The Linen Homelands', County Down is still the centre for Irish Linen. The Ferguson Linen Centre in Banbridge and the award winning Irish Linen Centre and Museum at Lisburn follow the history of the flax flower fabric from the 17th century to the present day. Down has many museums and records of times past across the County, including the perfectly preserved Down County Museum at Downpatrick's Old Jail and the superb Ulster Folk and Transport Museum near Holywood.

County Down is one of the great family destinations in Ireland. The north coastline has been tastefully developed with resorts, cruises, Heritage Centres, aqua playgrounds and the natural resource of wide sandy beaches. Marine life is experienced hands on at Exploris, the award winning Aquarium at Portaferry. Bangor Marina is Ireland's biggest haven for pleasure craft. Four long established yacht clubs are located in the Borough: The Royal Ulster, Royal North of Ireland, Ballyholme and Holywood. Regattas and sailing events are held regularly during the season.

Derived from the Irish 'an Dun', meaning Fort, County Down has many ancient sites and monuments mark a fascinating history. Following the early Celts, Saint Patrick established his first Church in Ireland at Saul, near Downpatrick, in the 5th Century. Among the National Trust's finest Ulster properties are Rowallane Gardens, eccentric Castle Ward House and magnificent Mount Stewart.

Cities and towns in County Down

Belfast is divided by the River Lagan, the south of the City is in County Down. Other principal towns are Newtownards, Bangor, Banbridge, Castlereagh, Downpatrick, Holywood, Newcastle, Newry and Portaferry. The estimated population for County Down is just over 454,000.

Business Information

Stangford Lough and the North Coast are two premier destinations for tourism in Northern Ireland. The north of Down is home to many commuters working in Belfast. The region has been developed into prestigious residential satellite suburbs. Engineering manufacturing of aircraft components is a leading industry in the County. Textile production of linens and the manufacturing of shirts for the clothing industry is both produced in Down. Mid and South Down are agriculturally based with dairy, cattle and sheep farming. Kilkeel is the largest fish and fish processing centre on the island of Ireland. There are 4,000 jobs linked to this industry. The eight Councils listed below administer County Down.

Helpful contact details for business enquiries
Belfast City Council
Tel: (44) 01232 320202
Ards Borough Council Tel: (44) 01247 824000
Banbridge District Council Tel: (44) 01396 610800
Castlereagh Borough Council Tel: (44) 01232 494500
Down District Council Tel: (44) 01396 610800
Lisburn Borough Council Tel: (44) 01846 682477
Newry and Mourne District Council Tel: (44) 01693 65411
North Down Borough Council Tel: (44) 01247 270371
LEDU Regional Office Tel: (44) 01232 242582
Sources of finance applicable to business start up, development and acquisition, and related agencies, are as follows

Dept. of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Tel: (44) 01232 529900
Industrial Development Board
 Tel: (44) 01232 233233
LEDU Head Office
 Tel: (44) 01232 491031
Bank of Ireland Head Office NI  Tel: (44) 01232 246901
Ulster Bank Business Banking  Tel: (44) 01232 897777
Northern Bank Business Programme Tel: (44) 01232 245277
Northern Bank Business Programme Tel: (44) 01232 245277
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment supports economic development in Northern Ireland. On their website at www.nics.gov.uk is a multitude of helpful information and links where and how to find business development assistance. The subsidiary body of the Industrial Development Board is responsible for inward investment into Northern Ireland and funding assistance for indigenous manufacturing and tradable services businesses with over 50 employees. LEDU, The Small Business Agency, assists local businesses with up to 50 employees. They have regional offices across the North. Local Enterprise Agencies support and work with the LEDU programmes. A list of local agencies is available from the LEDU Head Office.
Travel (see also town guides)

Belfast City Airport is located in County Down, with flights to mainland UK daily. NI Railways operate trains from Lisburn to Bangor on the line from Dublin to Belfast. Ulsterbus run their bus service throughout the County. Down's comprehensive road network make it very accessible with connecting roads to the rest of Ireland. Ferries to Scotland and England sail regularly from the Port of Belfast.


Belfast City Airport

Tel: (44) 01232 457745

Belfast International Airport
Tel: (44) 01849 422888

Stena Line

Tel: (44) 01232 747747

P&O European

Tel: (44) 01574 872147

Norse Irish Ferries
Tel: (44) 01232 779090
NI Railways
Tel: (44) 01232 899411
Tel: (44) 01232 333000
Tourism, Leisure and Accommodation
Please see town guides
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