From glittering jewels and tasty treats to sporting adventures and working museums, Northern Ireland is bursting with fun-packed tours where talented crafts-people amaze and inspire visitors, bringing our unique stories to life.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has highlighted just some of the fun tours to enjoy and with the recent launch of the Économusée projects in Northern Ireland there has never been a better time to explore these unique crafts.
Ruth Burns, NITB Destination Marketing & PR Manager said: “An Économusée experience allows people to learn about a company’s history, their traditional production techniques and how they’re used in today’s contemporary world. It can be interactive and always enriching and something everyone should experience.
“Northern Ireland hosts the only Économusée projects in the UK: The Steensons, Broighter Gold and Scullion Hurls, where you can learn about Northern Ireland’s traditional crafts.“
Ruth continued: “You can take a tour of Scullion Hurls in County Antrim and see hurling sticks being made visit Steensons Jewellers in Glenarm and witness the delicate skills needed to produce this famous jewellery or take in the breathtaking Broighter Gold fields at the Broighter Gold working farm. But there are many other ways to experience first-hand how Northern Ireland’s talented artisans and crafts people use their tours to inform and entertain people.
“Tasty tours like the Tayto Factory in County Armagh and Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory in Belfast are still firm family favourites as well as Ireland’s oldest working distillery, Old Bushmills Distillery in the village of Bushmills”, concluded Ruth.
NITB has created a list of working museums, tours and places of interest to visit.
Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil
Visitors to Broglasco Farm in Myroe on the outskirts of Limavady can explore the history of Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil as well as take in all of the goings-on at the Broighter Gold Économusée workshop. Visitors can wander through the exhibition area and explore the historical connection to the Broighter Hoard of gold discovered in the fields and discover the unique characteristics of the oil. Restaurants all over Northern Ireland now use the rapeseed oil such as Belfast Cookery School, Mourne Seafood, Hastings Hotel Group, James St South and many more. Visitors to Broglasco Farm can purchase a bottle of the award winning oil to enjoy for themselves at home.
Steensons jewellery is based in Glenarm, Co. Antrim and has been producing contemporary designs with the highest standard of craftsmanship for over forty years. The workshop is a must-see for any visitors to the area as all the collections and rings created by Steensons are designed and handcrafted in the workshop. Situated on the Causeway Coastal Route visitors can observe the goldsmiths at work and watch as they craft all kinds of jewellery as well as pick up a memento of the trip in the shop. Steensons have worked on numerous pieces for the HBO blockbuster series Game of Thrones, which is filmed in Northern Ireland, and will soon be launching a bespoke collection that will be available for purchase.
Scullion Hurls is based in Loughguile, Co. Antrim and visitors will be given a warm welcome at this family run business. Experience the craftsmanship involved in hurl making and watch the Scullion family take the time to produce a Scullion hurl, a skill which has been passed through generations, focusing on quality and finally hand finishing the hurl in the Loughguile workshop. Visitors can then explore the exhibition area to learn about the history of hurling, the process involved in making a Scullion hurl and the family connection behind the business.
Old Bushmills Distillery
The Old Bushmills Distillery in Co. Antrim welcomes over 100,000 visitors each year and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. It is the only distillery in Ireland to make triple-distilled malt whiskey and in 2008 celebrated the 400th anniversary of the original licence to distil whiskey granted to the Bushmills area in 1608. A tour of the distillery is a must-see for visitors to the area – you will learn how they make the five award winning whiskeys: Bushmills, Black Bush, Bushmills 10 year Malt, Bushmills 16 year Malt and Bushmills 21 year Malt and visit the Mash House, Fermentation room, The Still House, Cask Store and Bottling Hall. There is also a gift shop and restaurant available for those who would like to take a sample home to enjoy.
Established in 1857, Belleek Pottery is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest attractions and holds a special place in the cultural and commercial heritage of Co. Fermanagh. Original and unique pieces of pottery are made using traditional methods passed down from generation to generation. Belleek Pottery is situated in the picturesque village of Belleek near Lough Erne and visitors to the centre can take part in guided tours, explore the onsite museum, visit the audio visual theatre showroom or enjoy some refreshments in the restaurant. There is also a gift shop on site where visitors can peruse the wide range of home-ware, tableware and jewellery.
Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory, Belfast is nationally renowned as one of the finest purveyors of hand-made chocolates, fudge and boiled sweets, made from 100 year old recipes. Visitors to the shop will have the opportunity to observe the production process through a viewing window and see how hand-made chocolates and fudge are created. They may also have the chance to sample the wide range of confectionary on offer which includes honeycomb, yellow man, raspberry ruffle, macaroon, Belfast fudge, Baileys fudge and much more.
Visitors to the Tayto factory in Armagh will have the opportunity to experience the full magical tour of Tayto where they will see how the crisps and snacks are made and even meet Mr Tayto the well known brand mascot. The Tayto castle has a deep and interesting heritage which dates back to over 500 years. In 1955 the castle was bought over and repaired by local businessman Thomas Hutchinson who turned it into the crisp factory which went on to create one of the world’s best loved brands of crisps and snacks. Tours of the factory are extremely popular and are sure to delight children and adults alike.
For more information please go to www.discovernorthernireland.com.