Dundrum is a village and townland in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is beside Dundrum Bay, about 4 miles outside Newcastle on the A2 road. The village is best known for its ruined Norman castle. It had a population of 1,065 people in the 2001 Census.
In 1177 the Normans, who had conquered great swathes of Ireland, invaded eastern Ulster and captured territories along its coast. John de Courcy, who had led the invasion, began building Dundrum Castle in the early 1200s on top of an earlier Gaelic fort. The castle was to guard the land routes from Drogheda to Downpatrick. In 1203, de Courcy was expelled from Ulster by fellow Norman Hugh de Lacy. Two years later, de Courcy tried to re-take the castle but failed. It was visited by King John in 1210, who spent money for minor works to the castle and paid for a garrison there.
Dundrum castle was held by the Earls of Ulster until the 15th century, it was captured by the Magennises of Mourne, a Gaelic clan. In 1517 the Earl of Kildare briefly captured the castle, as did Lord Deputy Grey in 1538. The castle was surrendered to the Crown in 1601 by Phelim Magennis, granted to Edward Lord Cromwell and sold to the Blundell family. The Magennises re-took the castle during the Eleven Years' War but lost it to the Parliamentarians. The Blundells returned after the war and built the house on the south edge of the castle.
In the 17th century, Ulster's ports began to rise in prominence. In 1625 William Pitt was appointed as Customer of the ports of Newcastle, Dundrum, Killough, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Bangor and Holywood. Coal was a major import into Dundrum, where the East Downshire Steamship Company was based. Dundrum was a commercial port until 1984.
SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain, one of the first iron ships and designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was on its way from Liverpool to New York in 1846, when it ran aground during bad weather in Dundrum Bay. The captain, James Hosken, miscalculated the steamer's speed, and with poor charts, mistook the St John's Point lighthouse for the Chicken Rock lighthouse. It took a year to re-float the ship but it continued in use for many years before being installed as a visitor attraction in Bristol.