Hilltown, County Down

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Irish: Baile Hill[1]
Hilltown is located in Northern Ireland
 Hilltown shown within Northern Ireland
Population 899 (2001 Census)
District Newry and Mourne
County County Down
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BT
Dialling code 028
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
NI Assembly South Down
List of places
Northern Ireland

Coordinates: 54°11′38″N 6°08′38″W / 54.194°N 6.144°W / 54.194; -6.144

Hilltown is a small village within the townland of Carcullion (from Irish: Carr Cuilinn) in County Down, Northern Ireland. Hilltown is the main village of the parish of Clonduff which also contains rural areas and another village named Cabra. It had a population of 899 people in the 2001 Census.

Hilltown has eight public houses in the high street, a legacy from 18th century smugglers who shared out their contraband here. The village has a livestock market on alternate Saturdays, the Boley sheep fair and festival in early July and a large sale of rams in September. The Georgian market house opposite St John's parish church (1766) adjoins the old inn, the Downshire Arms. The weathervane on the pretty cupola is a fish, a reminder of the good fishing in the River Bann and its tributaries. Hilltown is also a strong Nationalist and Irish Cultural


Hilltown sprang up within the townland called Carcullin, later Carcullion (whose name is derived from the Irish Carr Cuilin). While many people think that Hilltown obtained its name from the fact that it spreads out over at least two hills, it was actually named after the Hill family and Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire. The Hill family were English politicians who also gave their name to nearby Hillhall and Hillsborough. He became Marquess of Downshire. He created a large house for his residence. The Hills founded the village in 1766 so that people living in the area could find employment in the linen industry.


Hilltown is classified as a small village or hamlet by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 500 and 1,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 899 people living in Hilltown. Of these: 27.0% were aged under 16 years and 14.4% were aged 60 and over

  • 48.8% of the population were male and 51.2% were female
  • 96.9% were from a Roman Catholic background and 2.8% were from a Protestant background
  • 5.1% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

The Troubles[edit]

On April 24, 1976 a Catholic James Byrne was murdered in a car bomb explosion planted by loyalist paramilitaries outside Shamrock Bar on Main Street.[2]

Places of interest[edit]

  • Goward Dolmen is an impressive megalithic monument two miles from Hilltown on the road to Castlewellan in Cabra. It is known locally as Pat Kearney's Big Stone or Cloughmore Cromlech. The huge granite capstone has slipped from its original horizontal position.[3]
  • The St Johns Church of Ireland is situated in the centre of the village. It was built by The Marquess of Downshire in the 18th Century.



Clonduff GAC (Chluain Daimh CLG) is the local Gaelic Club in the area. It accommodates 23 teams in all sports ranging from Gaelic football, Ladies Gaelic football, Hurling, Camogie and Gaelic Handball. The club also take part in Scór and Scór na nÓg events. It is the only club in the county to have teams competing in five gaelic sports, Rounders is the only one it doesn't have a team for.


  1. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Goward Dolmen in Clonduff parish". Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Genealogy Research Site. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 

See also[edit]