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County Down
'The Cut' in Banbridge
Location: 54°20’56"N, 6°16’12"W
Population: 14,744  (2001)
Post town: Banbridge
Postcode: BT32
Dialling code: 028
Local Government
Council: Armagh, Banbridge
and Craigavon
Upper Bann

Banbridge is a town in County Down. It lies on the River Bann and the A1 road. It was named after a bridge built over the Bann in 1712. The town grew as a coaching stop on the road from Belfast to Dublin and thrived from linen manufacturing. Its population was 14,744 people in the 2001 though is said to have raised in population by a fifth since then,[1] suggesting a population of around 18,000.[2]

The town's main street is very unusual, and rises to a steep hill before levelling out. In 1834 an underpass was made, apparently because horses with heavy loads would faint before reaching the top of the hill. It was built by William Dargan and is officially named 'Downshire Bridge', though it is often called 'The Cut'.


Banbridge is a relatively young town which grew up around the site where the main road from Belfast to Dublin crossed the River Bann over an Old Bridge which was situated where the present bridge now stands.

The town owes its success to flax and the linen industry, becoming by 1772 the principal linen producing district in Ireland with a total of 26 bleachgreens along the Bann. This industry has now greatly diminished in prominence, but Banbridge still has two of the major producers in Ulster Weavers Ltd, and Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd., the last remaining Irish linen damask weaver.

Between Rathfriland and Banbridge is the true Brontë homeland, for it is here that Patrick Bronty, later Brontë, was born and had his church, albeit that teh Brontë sisters were born and bred in Haworth in Yorkshire to where Brontë moved.

'The Cut' from above
Housing estates in western Banbridge
Housing estates in southern Banbridge
The monument to Francis Crozier

Since 2004, Banbridge has staged an annual busking competition and music festival called Buskfest. Performers have travelled from as far as Australia to participate in the competition and the evening concert has included a number of world-famous artists.


Like the rest of Ireland, the Banbridge area has long been divided into townlands, whose names mostly come from Gaelic. Banbridge sprang up in a townland called Ballyvally. Over time, the surrounding townlands have been built upon and they have lent their names to many streets, roads and housing estates. The following is a list of townlands within Banbridge's urban area, alongside their likely etymologies:

Ballydown (Baile an Dúin: "townland of the stronghold")
Ballymoney (Baile Muine: "townland of the thicket")
Ballyvally (Baile an Bhealaigh: "townland of the routeway")
Drumnagally (Dromainn Ó gCeallaigh: "O'Kelly's ridge")
Edenderry (Éadan Doire: "hill-brow of the oak-wood")
Tullyear (Tulaigh Eirre: "hillock of the boundary")

Places of interest

  • Near the town lie the ancient Lisnagade Fort, Legannany Dolmen, and the Loughbrickland Crannog, constructed around the year 500 AD
  • Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd factory tours to see the last Ulster linen damask weaving company at work.
  • Banbridge Market House was built about 1832 currently used as offices.
  • Huntly House
  • Tonis Famous Kebabs
  • Bannville House Hotel 19 room hotel and restaurant on the outskirts of the town.


Banbridge is on the A1 main road between Belfast and Newry. The nearest railway station is Scarva on the Belfast–Newry railway line, about 4 miles west of Banbridge.

Banbridge had its own railway station from 1859 until 1956: the Banbridge, Newry, Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway opened Banbridge (BJR) railway station on 23 March 1859.[3][4] In contrast with its very long name, this was a short branch line between Banbridge and Scarva.[3][4] This was followed by the opening of the Banbridge, Lisburn and Belfast Junction Railway between Knockmore Junction and Banbridge on 13 July 1863,[4] which gave Banbridge a more direct link via Lisburn with Belfast Great Victoria Street. Banbridge (BJR) railway station was closed in favour of the new Banbridge (BLBR) railway station.

The Great Northern Railway took over both companies in 1877[5] and opened a branch line from Banbridge to Ballyroney in 1880.[4] In 1906 the GNR opened an extension from Ballyroney to Castlewellan, where it connected with a new Belfast and County Down Railway branch line to Newcastle, County Down.[4]

On 1 May 1955 the GNRB closed Banbridge's lines to Scarva and Castlewellan.[6] Banbridge (BLBR) railway station closed on 29 April 1956, when the GNRB closed the line from Knockmore Junction.[6]


One of the Banbridge sporting highlights probably was the 1920 - Ireland v. Scotland International Hockey Match played at Banbridge.

Current sports clubs include:

  • Banbridge Town FC
  • Banbridge Hockey Club
  • Banbridge RFC
  • Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club
  • Banbridge Athletics Club
  • Banbridge Cycling Club
  • Banbridge Golf Club
  • Clann na Banna G.A.A Club
  • Banbridge Rangers Football Club
  • Banbridge Weight Training Club
  • Banbridge AFC

Popular culture

  • "The Star of the County Down" is a well known song associated with Banbridge:

Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning in July
Down a bóithrín green came a sweet cailín
And she smiled as she passed me by.

Any actual conncetion with Banbridge is unlikely: it is an early twentieth century composition by a writer from County Donegal, and the word pure Victorian "Oirish" suited to the music halls, and the tune much used, apparently coming from the English tune "Kingsfold", but it is a fair song for all that.

  • In the film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a fictitious Sky News broadcast shows a depiction of Banbridge in the midst of an apocalyptic blizzard.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Banbridge)


  2. 14,744 x 1.2=17692.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hajducki, 1974, map 8
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Hajducki, 1974, map 9
  5. Hajducki 1974, p. xiii.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Baker 1972, p. 207.