Bagenal’s Castle is a sixteenth century fortified house and adjoining nineteenth century warehouse. It houses Newry Tourist Information Centre and Newry & Mourne Museum, opened in 1986.
During restoration work on the Castle many original features were uncovered including fireplaces, windows, doorways, gun loops and a bread oven. These have been interpreted for the visitor and drawings were commissioned to illustrate how the various living quarters of the castle would have functioned in the sixteenth century.
The museum's diverse collections include material relating to prehistory, Newry's Cistercian foundations, Ulster's Gaelic order and the relationship with the English Crown; the building of a merchant town and the first summit level canal in the British Isles. You can also discover the history of the 'Gap of the North', the historic mountain pass between Ulster and Leinster located to the south of Newry. Artefacts on display include a granite cross from Newry’s Cistercian Abbey, a pair of mill shoes from Bessbrook and seaside memorabilia from Warrenpoint. One of the key exhibitions, "A Border Town’s Experience of the 20th Century", examines local attitudes to major political and economic events of the 20th century. There are also permanent exhibitions on farming, fishing and folklore in the Mournes and South Armagh.
Other facilities include two temporary exhibition areas and a reading room for local and family history research.
The Tourism Information Centre can provide a comprehensive and quality visitor service, with an excellent range of local crafts and merchandise for sale.
Currently on display at Newry and Mourne Museum are two temporary exhibtions, which further highlight the rich heritage and culture of the region.
"The Performing Arts in Newry and Mourne”
The exhibition examines the development of performing arts in this area from the 18th century to the present day and the music and drama societies and personalities associated with this growth. The colourful display of posters, programmes and other memorabilia relating to the performing arts demonstrates the huge passion for music and drama throughout the Newry and Mourne area.
“Brotherhoods and Friendly Societies”
This display looks at the growth of fraternal and friendly societies in the Newry and Mourne and highlights their diversity.
Throughout the exhibition the vibrant and colourful regalia and memorabilia on display reflects the many common characteristics of lodges, symbolism and rituals, some dating back to the Middle Ages.
These organisations often cared for members of the community who had fallen on hard times and many of the modern societies still carry out charitable works by raising money for many worthy local causes.