Learn About Crime and Punishment in the Past with Guided Walks at Down County Museum
To mark its reopening after a period of closure due to the pandemic, Down County Museum is organising a series of guided walks. The walks will take visitors around sites associated with crime and punishment in the past, and the history of gaols in Downpatrick.
The museum is located in the 18th century gaol of Down and includes in its exhibitions many of the stories of prisoners incarcerated there between 1796 and 1830. The museum also has a wealth of information relating to the other gaol sites in the town from Castle Dorras, which stood at the junction of what are now English Street and Church Street, to the House of Correction adjacent to the Courthouse, and the ‘new’ Gaol at the site of the present day Down High School, as well as the Courthouse itself. If you would like to hear more about debtors, capitally convicted prisoners, child prisoners and the many colourful characters who once inhabited these sites then these guided walks may be for you.
Learn about how James Smith, sentenced to death at 14 for forgery, became a wealthy business man in Australia; follow in the steps of rebels who ‘turned out’ in 1798; discover whether the ‘world’s oldest married couple’ had been convicts at the old gaol, and learn something of the fascinating history of juries of matrons.
The guided walks take place on 16 and 30 July and 13 and 20 August, departing from the museum at 11am. They are suitable for adults and children over nine years-old and will follow all social distancing measures. Numbers are limited, admission is £5 per person, and places must be pre-booked by contacting the museum on 0330 137 4049.
The Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Cathy Mason, said, “I am delighted to see Down County Museum reopening and while it may take some time for all of our programmes and event to restart, these guided, outdoors walks are a great way of involving visitors in our rich history. The stories of the prisoners and gaolers in Downpatrick’s gaols are fascinating and these walks are sure to be popular.”