Down County Museum has been given the go-ahead by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to open its doors from 10am on Saturday mornings from 5th November after the decision was made to harmonise the opening times with Newry Museum this month.
So now it will not only be possible to see the displays all day Saturday, but it will also be possible to visit the Cathedral View Tearoom, where the Mainstay Down Residential Project staff will be serving healthy, freshly-cooked and tasty breakfasts too.
The Museum reported visitor figures had climbed to 43,000 during the last year, as a result of the opening of the new extension to the rear of the Museum in September 2015, funded by the Special European Union Programmes Body (£500,000) and the Council.
The state-of-the-art extension includes the Downpatrick High Cross, on loan from the Dean and Chapter of Down, and galleries displaying local farming and maritime history and the story of the old gaol of 1796, in which the Museum is located.
The Chairperson of Newry Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, welcomed the new opening hours and said: “I am delighted that the Museum will be open on Saturday mornings from this November.
“The Museum provides an important resource to the local community and a great visit for local people and tourists alike. These extended opening hours also significantly increase our tourist offering in Downpatrick and will enable visitors to learn more about our history and culture.”
The Chairperson of Mainstay DRP, Dr Paddy Moore, said: ‘ We are delighted with the new opening hours and hope this will allow more people to avail of the wonderful museum facilities including Cathedral View Tearooms.
“We are offering a new menu including healthy breakfast options alongside other more decadent favourites. Why not join us on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to enjoy the beautiful views of the Hill of Down, Inch Abbey and partake of locally sourced “Cream Teas”.
The three new permanent galleries now provide a great addition to Down Through Time, an extensive display on the history of County Down from earliest times to today which opened in 2006, and to the restored gaol buildings and cell block.
Raising the Cross in Down, with its fascinating collection of artefacts, and the centrepiece of the 10th-century Downpatrick High Cross, tells the story of the Cross and its place in the early Christian tradition of County Down.
Harvests from Land and Sea, tells visitors how the farming and fishing industries have developed over time and how our landscape, culture and identity have been shaped by those working on the land and sea. ‘At Present Confined:’, Life in the old Gaol of Down, uncovers the history of the Gaol and tells the stories of some of the prisoners confined here from 1796 to 1830.
The diverse nature of the exhibitions in the Museum and the wealth of objects on display provide a comprehensive account of the fascinating history of County Down. As the number of local visitors and tourists to Downpatrick grows, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council took the decision to ensure that people visiting on Saturday mornings can access this wonderful resource.
A great new feature of the extension is the Cathedral View Tearoom, run by the Mainstay Down Residential Project, who have operated the museum tearoom since 2003. The Mainstay DRP team are taking the opportunity to launch a great new breakfast menu, which will be available on Saturday mornings from 10am. Whether it is a healthy twist on a traditional breakfast, locally laid eggs any way you like them, toast or porridge, fruit or yoghurt, or even a late brunch, the Cathedral View Tearoom offers great service and surroundings, as you can relax, read the papers and enjoy the view of the County Down landscape whatever you choose from the menu.
The Museum and Cathedral view Tearoom will be open from 10am to 4.30pm Mondays to Saturdays and 1.30pm to 5pm on Sundays.