Rostrevor: Northern Ireland’s Narnia

The picturesque village of Rostrevor is on the northern coast of Carlingford Lough, facing the Republic of Ireland just three miles away on the far shore. Disclaimer : It is also my home town.

Although I have no longer any family ties here, my love for the place always draws me home. There is a famous song about these parts once popular in Edwardian drawing rooms of Dublin and London, by a man called Percy French who sang that the ‘Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’. The mountain that looms over Rostrevor, Slieve Martin certainly lives up to French’s description, the ancient oak wood appears to be sweeping towards the sea lough.

French wasn’t the only notable writer who was taken with the area, the novelist C.S. Lewis holidayed here as a child and wrote : “that part of Rostrevor which overlooks Carlingford Lough is my idea of Narnia”.

Now young kings and queens of Narina can find their own adventures in Kilbroney Park which has a Narnia trail for young fans of Lewis’ saga.

To find what may have been the true inspiration for Aslan’s table in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, you need to don some sturdy shoes…..

The Clough Mor stone (literally big stone) is a large granite boulder deposited near the top of Slieve Martin by retreating ice during the last ice age.

Its a grand walk to the stone, I took to hiking each morning and I was rewarded with stunning views over the lough, once the morning mist lifted.

Legend has it that the legendary Irish Giant Finn McCool threw the stone across the lough in a fight with another giant. Finn was always fighting, another squabble with a Scottish giant gave rise to The Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland’s UNESCO World Heritage site.

There’s plenty of flora to be admired on the way up and if you are very lucky you may get a glimpse of Rostrevor’s famous fauna, red squirrels.

We camp in Kilbroney Park, which has good facilities and a nice cafe. It was built on the site of the former home of the Bowes-Lyons, the late Queen Mother’s family, the Queen visited during her childhood. The village was a popular resort in the Victorian era when a train ran along the shore of the lough. Today the park is winning renown as some of the best mountain biking in Northern Ireland and my other half enjoyed navigating the trails.

The park has a variety of majestic trees and the village has twice won Northern Ireland’s tree of the year a competition organised by the Woodland Trust.

My favourite village walk is through the park and into the Fairy Glen, a lovely river that runs though the village.

The village is home to seven pubs. I spent a happy summer perfecting my Guinness pouring technique whilst working in The Corner House when I was student. I recommend a pub crawl to find your favourite, you’ll find a warm welcome and plenty of craic.

The name of the parish Kilbroney means church of Bronagh, and you will certainly encounter plenty of Bronaghs here. Bronagh, the local saint, was a disciple of St. Patrick, and many locals proudly bear her name.

At the the top of the village, on the road to Hilltown, is the local graveyard, an unusual recommendation for a holiday blog perhaps, but it has several treasures including a Celtic High Cross and a really ancient grave stone which may have pagan origins known as the Jaimedy stone.

Speaking of giants ….. it is also the last resting place of Paddy Murphy, a native of these parts, who was became famous as an Irish giant and was said to be the tallest man in the world, in the mid 19th century.

Finally a geography lesson. Rostrevor is on the north shore of Carlingford Lough in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom. The southern shore is the Republic of Ireland.

You can fly from various UK airports to Belfast or take a ferry. Rostrevor is about a one hour drive from Belfast and around two hours from Dublin.

If you do visit Northern Ireland I would love to hear your tips and tales. #staycationinspiration

Please check the relevant websites for the latest information about opening times and ticket prices.

Note – photos in this post were taken by me unless otherwise indicated.

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