The Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, Co. Down was almost forced to close during the Second World War. Like many other hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in coastal towns, they suffered from the lack of trade.
People did not holiday to the seaside as often during wartime and petrol restrictions in Northern Ireland meant few people drove. The Ministry of Education requisitioned the hotel in 1941 and ran it as an evacuee hostel.
A skeleton crew remained at the historic Slieve Donard Hotel. Rather than their usual clientele, the rooms filled with people from Belfast and Gibraltar. Those from the capital city had fled in the wake of the Belfast Blitz, which left many thousands homeless. Those from Gibraltar were among the evacuees from The Rock who found a temporary new home in Ulster from 1944.
The American Red Cross also made use of the building while the US Army established bases in the surrounding Co. Down countryside.