Newtownards - Encyclopedia

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NEWTOWNARDS (pron. Newtonards), a market town of Co. Down, Ireland, beautifully situated near the northern extremity of Strangford Lough, on a branch of the Belfast and Co. Down railway, 92 m. E. of Belfast. Pop. (1901) 9110. The town is sheltered by the Scrabo Hills on the west and north, and possesses a fine square, in which the pedestal of an ancient cross was erected in 1636. Muslin embroidery is the principal industry. There are also mills for flax and hemp yarns, a weaving factory and a hosiery factory. The remains of the old church, originally erected in 1244, contain good Perpendicular work, and the family vault of the Londonderrys; there are also the parish church and Presbyterian church, with lofty spires, and a Roman Catholic chapel. In the neighbourhood there are freestone quarries.

The town owes its origin to a Dominican monastery founded in 1244 by Walter de Burgh. It was forfeited by the O'Neills, and given to the Hamiltons and Montgomeries, from whom it passed to the marquess of Londonderry. It received a charter from James I., and until the Union in 1800 returned two members to parliament. The ruined abbey of Moville, 12 m. N.E., is the most notable of the many ecclesiastical remains in the neighbourhood. It is attributed to St Finian (c. 550).

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