The UK ETA for Newry: Everything a Traveller Should Know

The border town of Newry, just five miles from the Republic of Ireland, is an off-the-beaten-track destination. Its location, beside the scenic Gap of the North, makes it particularly attractive to hikers, while its imposing cathedral will impress those interested in architecture. Learn about what to see and do in Newry and how the new UK ETA will affect your trip in this traveller’s guide.

Newry in Prehistoric Times

This area has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, with some ancient artefacts dating back as far as 4,000 BC. Ancient sites have been found in the Mourne Mountains that overlook the city. Ballykeel Dolmen, a tripod-shaped portal tomb, was excavated in the 1960s, with discoveries including a javelin head and shards of Neothilic pottery. On the steep mountain of Slieve Gullion, Ireland’s highest surviving passage tomb was found, its entrance aligned with the setting sun during the winter solstice. American soldiers disturbed this tomb and other nearby ancient sites during the Second World War. Today, however, they are protected monuments.

Ballymacdermott Court Tomb

On the southern slopes of Ballymacdermot Mountain, this Neolithic burial site is believed to date back to between 4,000 and 2,500 BC. Evidence of human cremations has been discovered here, along with ceramic pieces and flint. Visitors to Newry can walk to the site, as it is just a short hike from the town centre. Nearby Bernish Viewpoint is one of the city’s most frequently visited spots for picnics, and it offers sweeping views across the area.

Monastic Newry

Newry was granted town status in 1144, and its first residents were Cistercian monks who resided in a large abbey. The town grew up around the abbey, becoming known for its market. The 12th century was a difficult time, and raids by local clans were common. In time, several castles were built in and around Newry, providing protection to the abbey, and the monastic community flourished. However, Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries led to their demise. Today, little remains of the once-proud abbey.

Bagenal’s Castle

In 1568, this small castle was built on the site of the old monastery. It was a private residence, and as the centuries passed, its original purpose was forgotten. By the 20th century, it was being used as a bakery. It was not until 1996, when the bakery was to be demolished, that people realised the building’s historical significance. Today, the restored Bagenal’s Castle houses the Newry and Mourne Museum, which has exhibits about the history of the area.

The Growth of the Cathedral City

The first cathedral in the area was built in Dromore, some 20 miles from Newry. This Catholic cathedral was seized by Protestants following the Reformation and then burned down by Catholic rebels in 1641. In 1750, the seat of the cathedral was transferred to Newry, as it was the largest town in the County Down area. Some years later, work began to build a new cathedral. Newry Cathedral, finished in 1829, was the first Catholic cathedral to be inaugurated in Ireland after Catholic Emancipation, which lifted long-held restrictions that had affected Catholics.

Newry Cathedral

As it is still a working church, Newry Cathedral also welcomes visitors and tourists. The architect, Thomas Duff, was a native of the city and designed many other churches and cathedrals in Ireland. In Gothic style, the cathedral is made from local granite. Its spectacular interior features mosaics, marble altars and German stained-glass windows.

Natural Newry

Many visitors to Newry are attracted not by the town’s history but rather by its spectacular surrounding scenery. Hiking trails in the area include Slieve Foye, Ravensdale Forest and the Annaloughan Loop Walk. The most famous natural site is the Moyry Pass, commonly known as the Gap of the North. This mountain pass has always been the main north-south route in this part of the country and was of strategic importance in times of conflict.

Moyry Castle

Built in 1601, this squat fortified castle was intended to secure the Gap of the North. It was built during the Nine Years’ War, an Irish rebellion against English rule in Ireland. The Irish rebels had taken control of the Gap of the North, and it took the English a full year to take it from them, suffering heavy losses in the process. When they finally seized it, they erected this basic castle to fortify the area. Today, Moyry Castle stands in ruins, but it remains an interesting landmark for those who want to hike or enjoy a scenic drive in the area.

The UK ETA for Newry

The UK’s new ETA system will come into effect in 2024. Travellers should familiarise themselves with the requirements of this new programme, which is intended to help digitalise the UK’s borders. It will allow the government greater oversight over people entering and leaving the country and is inspired by similar programmes already in place in countries such as the United States and Canada.

The travellers affected by the new system are those who do not currently require a visa to enter the UK, as the ETA will replace the country’s visa waiver programme. There is a list of 92 countries whose citizens do not currently require a visa to visit the UK, but when the new programme is put in place, they will need an ETA.

Travellers will require an ETA if they are staying in the UK for less than six months. Tourists, students and those travelling on business will all be eligible to apply for an ETA. However, visitors who intend to stay for longer than six months or wish to work in the UK will still need to apply for a separate visa, just as they do under the current system.

Applying for the UK ETA

In order to apply for the UK ETA for Newry, visitors will need to go through an online process. There are no paper-based alternatives, as this is a fully digital programme. It is essential that visitors apply for their ETA in advance of their travel date. Carriers may deny boarding to passengers who reach their plane, ship or train without a valid ETA. Additional details are discussed in the UK ETA FAQs.

Before beginning the application process, travellers should check the list of requirements and make sure that they meet the published criteria. As well as a valid biometric passport, they will need to provide personal information to complete their application, including contact information, date of birth, employment status and so on.

Travellers will also be expected to disclose details relating to any criminal record, past immigration offences or memberships in proscribed groups or organisations. They may also need to provide information about their visit to the UK, including the address at which they intend to stay and perhaps a basic itinerary of their planned trip.

As part of the ETA application process, travellers must pay a fee. This should be paid in full before the application can be processed. Travellers are advised to allow a processing time of up to 72 hours. It is important to keep this in mind when preparing for a UK trip and apply for the ETA with enough notice.

Getting Around With the UK ETA for Newry

Travellers who have an approved UK ETA for Newry can freely travel anywhere within the United Kingdom. They are not restricted to Northern Ireland, enabling visitors to enter England, Scotland or Wales without needing to complete any further paperwork. They can travel around the country by any means of transport they choose.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the ETA is only valid for the United Kingdom. Newry is a border town, so many visitors like to combine their stay there with a trip to the Republic of Ireland. As this is an independent country, it has its own systems in place, and visitors should familiarise themselves with the Irish entry requirements before crossing the border.

Your Trip to Newry With the UK ETA

Whether you’re a keen hiker enticed by the wild green mountains of Northern Ireland, or you prefer to soak up the culture of the historic cathedral, you’re sure to find plenty to interest you on a trip to Newry. Make sure you are familiar with the new UK ETA for Newry before starting your journey to ensure you enjoy your time to the fullest while discovering this hidden Northern Irish gem.