In a letter to his brother, author C.S. Lewis reportedly wrote ‘that part of Rostrevor which overlooks Carlingford Lough is my idea of Narnia’. Over spring break I visited this village nestled between the Mourne Mountains and the Carlingford Lough sea. If you take the bus from Newry towards Kilkeel, you’ll soon find yourself in the centre of Rostrevor. In April the ‘Merry Christmas’ sign was still in the square and the bells from the churches rang out in welcome as I exited the bus. Though the village may seem small, it’s like a Mary Poppins bag bursting with surprises.
Fairies are believed to live in the Fairy Glen along the Kilbroney river. Historically, the locals wouldn’t venture here after dark because they feared the fairies might snatch them. Though I failed to find any fairies whilst walking through this wonderland, I left nearly convinced of their existence. The glen borders the 92km Kilbroney park on the edge of the Mourne Mountains. This park abounds with biking and walking trails, including a ‘walk through Narnia’ path. Warning: you may become a giddy child as you enter through the wardrobe door and stand beside the lamppost in the middle of the wood… or maybe that’s just me.
If you ask locals what to do in Rostrevor, they will send you to the Cloughmore Stone in the Mourne Mountains. Legend has it that this 30 ton boulder sitting 1000 feet above Rostrevor was thrown there by the giant Finn MacCool during an altercation with a Scottish giant. The hike up is only 45 minutes, and the view of the rolling mountains and the sky flickering its reflection upon the sea is surreal. Meandering along, the trail circles back through the unassuming Fiddler’s Green. In July, an Irish folk music festival transforms the field and people come internationally to participate. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Fiddler’s Green Festival, and for any music lover it’s a perfect excuse to visit.
If you’re not there in July, live music is sure to be playing in at least one of the eight pubs on any given day of the week. If you do have a night out in mind, some popular eateries include the Old School Café, the Rostrevor Inn, and the Church bistro. Maud’s is also delicious, and their ‘Poor-Bear’s Delight’ ice-cream is what dreams are made of.
Whether you fancy taking a ramble along the coast, hiking into the mountains, sipping on a Guinness in the pub, or visiting one of the nearby towns – Rostrevor has something for everyone. This village is steeped in legend and fantasy, history and nature, and as you explore it you’ll begin to understand why Lewis could imagine nymphs in the forest and talking animals traipsing through the misty mountains. In fact, you may start to imagine it for yourself.
Other Nearby Places
Robert Ross Monument (this dude is credited for burning down the U.S. White House in 1814)
Saint Bronagh’s Bell and the Benedictine Monastery
The Kilfeaghan Dolmen
The Narrow Water Castle tower house