Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head

This great headland juts out into the sea like a huge splayed hand. Beneath the fingertips are cliffs that drop abruptly 130ft down to the sea , where they are pounded by a race of swelling foam. Downpatrick Head is a must see on your Ireland tours.

Just off the forefinger is Doonbristy , a magnificent sea stack that has sheered off from the mainland. In places , the sea has gouged caverns into the rock , and as the waves heave in , plumes of spray shoot out of their blowholes.

The most extraordinary of these ‘caverns’ is the tunnel that runs from the cliff face some 200 yards under the turf covered top of the headland. This can be seen by looking into a huge hole called Poulinashantinny in the middle of the headland , now for safety’s sake surrounded by wire netting. In a large swell the sea surges into the tunnel , and bursts out of the hole in a cloud of spray. In 1798 a group of 75 people tried to use the tunnel as refuge from the English after the rebellion , but they were all drowned by the sea crashing waves.

According to legend , Downpatrick Head was formed during a battle between St Patrick and the Devil. St Patrick struck the Devil so hard with his crozier that he fell , making the hole through the headland and breaking off land to leave the Doonbristy stack. Why not visit the tiny ruined chapel on the headland which commemorates the association with St Patrick on your tours of Ireland.