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Hillsborough, County Down
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Hillsborough, County Down

Hillsborough is a small, pretty and historical Georgian village situated only 12 miles from the capital city of Belfast. It houses the official residence of the Queen (and other royal family members) when visiting the province, along with local Government and council offices. There are many interesting walks and local pubs offering delicacies to enjoy; and is home to a public forest park and lake that form the picturesque setting for the original fort residence of Lord Hillsborough.

Hillsborough village hosts an International Oyster Festival, generally every September, attracting thousands of visitors from many countries (as far away as Japan, Russia, US and Argentina) to partake in the competitions festivities; these include boat racing, parachuting, garden fêtes, oyster eating and Guinness drinking – all in the name of fun, revelry and charity.

Hillsborough is also (in somewhat exaggerated terms) said to be the birthplace of the United States - due to a disastrous meeting that took place between Benjamin Franklin and Lord Hillsborough (then the acting Secretary of State for the Colonies) in the early 1770s. They are reported to have hated each other at first sight and, on leaving 3 days into a week long visit, Franklin returned home to convince the dissident colonists he represented that there was no alternative but to initiate immediate revolution. The 'Declaration of Independence' in July 1776 followed shortly from Franklin's return.