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Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill

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You may find it difficult to believe that this lane beyond the surfaced area was once one of the three main routes into Downpatrick.

On your left, as you look up the hill, was the site of a cattle market, while near the top of the lane on the right is the site of the gallows used before the erection of the late 18th century gaol (now Down County Museum). Also on the right was a well dedicated to St Patrick, but it is now covered over.

The gallows structure consisted of three pillars, called 'the three sisters', on top of which was laid a wooden beam from which the rope was suspended. Crimes such as horse or sheep stealing, forgery and theft were then punishable by death.

From the Gallows Hill you have a good view of the town, with Down Cathedral on the opposite hill. At the bottom of the hill, turn left into Fountain Street. The houses on the left (numbers 2-14) occupy the site of the old Horse Barracks which was a late 17th century rectangular building with projecting gable wings at each end. In 1774 the Barracks were purchased for £150 for use as the Down County Infirmary. They served this purpose for 60 years until the opening of the new Infirmary (the former Downe Hospital) in 1834. The Barracks were demolished in the 1970s.

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