Killyleagh , County Down

killyleagh castleKillyleagh is a quaint village in the North of Ireland and easily accessible on our extended Belfast tours. It is a real hidden gem and perfect for an excursion from a cruise ship.

Approaching Killyleagh , what looks like a huge Gothic fantasy comes into view , a sight wholly out of character with the area : the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland.

It was erected by John de Courcy in the late 12th century , but was rebuilt by the Hamilton family in 1648 and again in 1850 to give it the Bavarian Schloss appearance it has today.

It is still a private house , and when viewed close up it is much mire gaunt , with a squat mixture of crenelations , turrets and cones.

The stone outside the castle gates commemorates the town's most famous son , Hans Sloane (1660-1753) , physician to King George II and founder of both the British Museum and Kew Gardens - London's Sloane Square is named after him.

The gatehouse towers themselves have been adapted for holiday letting . What an option on tours of Ireland.

Just 2 miles south of Killyleagh is Delamont Country Park , a pleasant spot with grand views over the lough, a heronry and Ireland's longest miniature railway.

If you are in the North on Ireland tours then call in to Killyleagh. It is a great stop with a number of quint coffee shops.