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Crossgar, Shops in Downpatrick Street.jpg
Crossgar is located in County Down
Location within County Down
Population1,892 (2011 Census)</
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBT30
Dialling code028
PoliceNorthern Ireland
FireNorthern Ireland
AmbulanceNorthern Ireland
EU ParliamentNorthern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
54°23′53″N 5°45′53″W / 54.3981°N 5.7647°W / 54.3981; -5.7647Coordinates: 54°23′53″N 5°45′53″W / 54.3981°N 5.7647°W / 54.3981; -5.7647

Crossgar (from Irish an Chrois Ghearr, meaning 'the short cross')[1][2] is a village and townland in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is about 15 miles (24 km) south of Belfast – between Saintfield and Downpatrick. Crossgar had a population 1,892 people in the 2011 UK Census.


Crossgar has had an interesting and varied past, from the settlement of Anglo-Norman invaders, to Scots settlers, to the St. Patrick's Day riots in the 1800s. According to a history of Down and Connor by a Fr. O'Laverty, the parish of Kilmore, in which Crossgar lies, was likely to have been established around 800 AD and was the ecclesiastical centre of this part of County Down. It was thought that the area had seven chapels and these can be reasonably evident by the remains of burial grounds. But the seventh cannot be traced to a burial ground and is referred to as the "lost chapel of Cill Glaise". O'Laverty says that by tradition this chapel was built by Saint Patrick and left in the care of his disciples Glasicus and Liberius.

The name Crossgar comes from the Irish An Chrois Ghearr meaning "the short cross". There is a holy well known as St. Mary’s Well (Tobar Mhuire) which suggests that in this case crois (cross) is likely to refer to an ecclesiastical cross, no trace of which now remains. The adjective gearr (short) may suggest that the cross was damaged or in some way defective. The parish of Kilmore comes from the Irish Cill Mhór meaning "big church" or another possible meaning is An Choill Mhór meaning "the big forest", which suggests that the area was covered by a large forest. Another location of one of the seven chapels is the townland of Killinchy (Cill Duinsí) meaning "Duinseach's Church".

In June 1920, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks at Crossgar was attacked by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who were beaten off.[3]

Places of interest[edit]

  • Situated in the village is the famous Ulster Wildlife Centre, run by the Ulster Wildlife Trust [1] and which is situated in a Victorian walled garden in the grounds of Tobar Mhuire Monastery (owned by the Passionist missionary order). Sir David Attenborough opened the Wildlife Centre in 1992 and the Trust is a charity to promote conservation in its natural habitat in Northern Ireland. Also situated in the same grounds is a huge Victorian conservatory with vines that were planted as far back as the last century.
  • The Market House was derelict but has been restored and turned into a children's nursery.
  • Crossgar is home to Ireland's first Disc Golf course located on the Kilmore Road between Crossgar and Kilmore.
  • Crossgar Free Presbyterian Church is the first congregation of the Free Presbyterian denomination worldwide. It was founded in 1951 when most of the elders and a large part of the congregation of Lissara Presbyterian Church seceded in a dispute between evangelicals and liberals and in which the Presbyterian Church in Ireland banned local people from using their own Church hall for a gospel mission. The evangelist for the mission was Rev. Ian Paisley.
  • Across from the Free Presbyterian Church is an Orange Hall which is home to the local Orange Lodge that is still active today with a flute band called Crossgar Young Defenders (CYD) started in 1987.
    Crossgar Young Defenders, open their annual parade by matching through their hometown.
  • Crossgar is home of a football club called Kilmore Rec, they play at Robert Adams Park
  • Tobar Mhuire Retreat and Conference Centre is run by the resident Passionist community, and has 15 guest rooms, several conference rooms, and 60 acres (24 ha) of grounds. Its Stations of the Cross are, unusually, built outdoors. On its website, Tobar Mhuire states that its mission is to provide diverse visitors (Catholic, Protestant and/or others) with "a place for renewal, hope, learning and healing".[citation needed]
The centre is in a former manor house, known as Crossgar House, bought from Colonel Llewellyn Palmer by the Passionists in 1950 to house their Juniorate, a second-level school for boys interested in Passionist religious life and priesthood. The Juniorate up to this period was in Wheatfield, North Belfast. The Passionists took up residence in November 1950. The Juniorate flourished for nearly thirty years. Many young people were educated at Tobar Mhuire and in its heyday over fifty young students lived here with a staff of about eight. In the final years, before the juniorate was closed in 1980, the students attended St Patrick's High School in Downpatrick, run by the De La Salle Brothers.[citation needed]
In 1976 Tobar Mhuire became a noviciate, a place where people are encouraged to deepen their vocation to religious life. The Passionist vocation, to help others become more aware of the great love God has for them as shown on the cross, motivated developing the old juniorate into a retreat and Prayer Centre in 1982. The community continues its work through various faith development programmes run both at Tobar Mhuire and elsewhere on request.[citation needed]



Crossgar is on the main A7 road, 5 miles (8 km) north of Downpatrick and 16 miles (26 km) south of Belfast, and on the B7 minor road between Ballynahinch and Killyleagh.

The village is served by Ulsterbus route 15 and 215 Downpatrick to Belfast.

Crossgar railway station opened on 23 March 1859, but finally closed on 16 January 1950.[4]

Parts of it from Downpatrick to Inch abbey then opened as a tourist attraction in late 2009 to celebrate the closing of the line 60 years ago.


Crossgar is classified as a village by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 1,000 and 2,250 people). On Census day (25 March 2011) there were 1,872 people living in Crossgar, making it the 2643rd UK largest town. Of these:

  • 22.3% were aged under 16 and 13.74% were aged 65 and over
  • 49.26% of the population were male and 50.74% were female
  • 59.45% were from a Catholic background and 34.95% were from a Protestant background
  • 39.65% indicated that they had a British national identity, 35.46% had a Northern Irish national identity and 30.20% had an Irish national identity.

In 2001 there were 1,539 people living in Crossgar. Of these:

  • 23.8% were aged under 16 and 18.6% were aged 60 and over
  • 49.2% of the population were male and 50.8% were female
  • 74.0% were from a Catholic background and 26.2% were from a Protestant background

Population change of Crossgar Town[edit]

  • 1831 Census = 474[5]
  • 1841 Census = 695
  • 1851 Census = 860
  • 1861 Census = 817
  • 1871 Census = 688
  • 1881 Census = 743
  • 1891 Census = 583
  • 1901 Census = 582
  • 1911 Census = 553
  • 1926 Census = 555
  • 1937 Census = 577[6]
  • 1951 Census = 640
  • 1961 Census = 842[7]
  • 1966 Census = 845
  • 1971 Census = 1098[8]
  • 1981 Census- 1225
  • 1991 Census= 1246
  • 2001 Census= 1542
  • 2008 Estimate = 1860
  • 2011 Census = 1892[9]


Plaque to Sir James Martin, inventor

The James Martin Memorial Stone is located in the Square in Crossgar and is maintained by Down District Council. Sir James Martin, who hailed from the nearby townland of "Killinchy-in-the-Woods", was born on 11 September 1893, and died on 5 January 1981, was awarded for services to Engineering an OBE in 1950 and a CBE in 1957. He is famous as the inventor of the ejector seat for aircraft. He was also co-founder of the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company. A 3-foot-high (0.91 m) stone has been erected in his memory.

Andrew Waterworth grandson of former Glentoran defender and captain Noel McCarthy played for Hamilton Academical Football Club in the SPL but now plays for Linfield Football Club is from Crossgar.

Leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party and former senior barrister, Jim Allister was born in Crossgar in 1953.

Dermot Nesbitt, the former NI Environment Minister and a UUP MLA, has lived in Crossgar for most of his life.


Crossgar is home of Kilmore Rec. Football Club, which plays at Robert Adams Park. It is the club at which Andrew Waterworth started his career.

Crossgar hosts the badminton team and club, 'Lisara Badminton Club'. Their place of play is in Lisara Presbyterian Church Hall.

Crossgar also has its own 9 hole Par 64 Golf Course, Crossgar Golf Club, located on the Derryboy Road and founded in 1993.[10]

Surrounding areas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Placenames NI Archived 2012-06-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "An Chrois Ghearr/Crossgar". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  3. ^ Hezlet, Sir Arthur (1972). The 'B' Specials. London: Tom Stacey. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0 85468 272 4.
  4. ^ "Crossgar station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  5. ^ "County Down population census 1831-1937". (online historical population reports). UK Census. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  6. ^ "County of Down, 1937 Population". (online historical population reports). Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  7. ^ "CENSUS OF POPULATION 1961 COUNTY REPORT DOWN" (PDF). NISRA. NISRA. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  8. ^ "CENSUS OF POPULATION 1971 COUNTY REPORT DOWN" (PDF). NISRA. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  9. ^ Agency, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research. "statistics". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 18 November 2017.


  • The Whitewashed City: the story of Crossgar, County Down by Tom Hewitt. Vol. l (Crossgar, Tom Hewitt, 2004)

External links[edit]