The very popular Literary and Arts tour includes visits to many places of interest associated with famous artists and writers from the District. The first place of interest is Newry Street, the birthplace of F. E. McWilliam, an internationally renowned sculptor who was born in Banbridge 1909. His sculpture 'Legs Static' can be viewed in the grounds of the Council's Civic Building. The next place of interest is the Joseph Scriven Memorial, author of the famous hymn 'What a Friend we have in Jesus', where visitors will be given time to view the memorial and hear a short history of Joseph Scriven's life. A visit to the renowned Banbridge Academy will be the next stop on the tour, which has connections to three famous people - Helen Waddell, Howard Ferguson and Professor Ernest Walton. Helen Waddell was the famous scholar and author of 'Peter Abelard', Howard Ferguson was a internationally acclaimed composer and musicologist and Professor Ernest Walton was a Nobel prize winning physicist.
The tour continues with a drive through Seapatrick to view St. Patrickís Church of Ireland and the site of a holy well. St. Patrick is alleged to have passed through the village, hence its name. This is followed by a visit to Laurencetown where the tour will pass by Roeís Hall home of Dolly Monroe who is mentioned in the famous poem 'The Haunch of Venison' by the Irish poet, Oliver Goldsmith. While in Laurencetown the touring party will be able to visit Laurencetown House, home of Thomas Dawson Laurence, school friend of Oliver Goldsmith, and author of various poems. Thomas Dawson Laurence was also a friend of Bishop Thomas Percy of Dromore and patron of artist Thomas Romney Robinson.
The tour will proceed to several churches of importance, firstly St. Johnís Roman Catholic Church to view windows by Harry Clarke, world famous stained glass artist then onto Tullylish Parish Church to view a plaque commemorating Reverend W. B. Yeats, grandfather of the poet W. B. Yeats and artist Jack B. Yeats, who was rector at the church. At this point a brief history of John B. Yeats, father of W. B. and Jack, who was born in Tullylish can be heard. Our church visits will continue to Magherally Old Church to see the grave of Helen Waddell, medieval scholar and author. The tour will include a history of Helenís life with mentions of her brother, Sam Waddell. Sam wrote under the name of Rutherford Mayne, taking his name from his kinsman, Mayne Reid. Born in Ballyroney Manse, he was the author of 'Boys Own' stories. The Waddell family legacy continued with great-grand-nephew, Martin Waddell, who was also a well known childrenís author.
The last stop on this popular tour will be to the BrontŽ Interpretative Centre for a tour of the centre, graveyard and Drumballyroney Church. Visitors can hear the history of Patrick BrontŽ his family and the story of Squire Hawkins.