This weekend, the European Heritage Open Days (EHOD), has a host of exciting events, must-see attractions and a range of experiences to get out and enjoy, and all for free.
As an exclusive preview last week, thanks to Tourism Northern Ireland, I visited Bangor Castle for a behind the scenes tour to discover what it might have been like to live in the building. With ornate ceilings, original works of art and a stunning hall, I learnt about the history of the Castle and the extent of its estate in its heyday. There were secret passageways, staff quarters, original features and a host of fascinating facts to learn about, including the resident ghost, Maud, who has been rumoured to move chairs about! It’s a fascinating tour, and of course only one of many tours happening thoughout NI this EHOD weekend.
This year promises to be just as successful as visitors of all ages enjoy events that celebrate Northern Ireland’s rich Industrial Heritage, our filming locations, food, craft and look out for some great children’s events too.
There will be various film-themed events ranging from talks given by location managers who worked on productions such as The Fall, to interesting screenings put together from the BBC Archive. One for the kids and not to be missed is the Sparticle Mystery which will be screened in the Crumlin Road Gaol, where it was actually filmed.
Food lovers are well represented during EHOD with delicious locally grown produce taking centre stage. Firm favourites like the Ulster Fry, stew and champ will be represented as well as traditional baking, fishing and farming in Northern Ireland.
Members of Craft NI have put together a stunning array of exhibitors including London based knitwear designer Orla Savage, originally from Northern Ireland, who will showcase pieces of clothing she has designed made with linen yarns. A must-see is the Andy-Warhol-style inspired We Salute You exhibition, in memory of Titanic’s fallen, created by photographer and visual artist Lise McGreevy.
In 2015, more than 30 countries will be also celebrating European Industrial and Technical Heritage as part of European Heritage Open Days. This means that more businesses than ever, including Steensons Jewellery Workshop, Theatrical Linens, have come onboard! Exciting events include a talk about Northern Ireland’s Industrial past, the SS Nomadic or you could even take part in the Shirt Factories of Derry walking tour.
Listed below are just a few of the fantastic things to see and do over EHOD:
Pogues Entry Historical Cottage
Childhood home of Dr. Alexander Irvine, author of ‘My Lady of the Chimney Corner’, Pogues Entry Cottage in Antrim has been preserved to give a rare insight into how Irish working class families lived in the latter half of the nineteenth century and EHOD will bring the cottage alive with living history and craft displays!
The Lock Keeper’s Cottage, Lock No. 3 and the Industry Barge
On September 12 and 13 heritage guides and staff will be available both in the cottage and on the barge to tell the stories of the Lagan Navigation. The stories include details about past industries such as linen, transportation on the waterways as well as the lives of the people who worked there. Worksheets and jigsaws will be available on the barge for children.
Shirt Factories of Derry – Walking Tour
Join local conservation architect, Manus Deery on a walking tour of the former shirt-factories of Derry. The tour will include the site of Tillie and Henderson, Abercorn Factory, Welch Margetson (Carlisle House), via the City Walls and Bishop Street, to Castle Street to Hogg and Mitchell (Strand Factory) and the City Factory. Booking Essential – tel: EHOD 028 9054 3022.
Meelmore Water Tower – Guided Walk
Explore three water or summit towers which form part of the 22 mile Mourne Wall (1904 –1922) that was built to mark the water catchment area for the Silent Valley. This guided walk visits the tower on the summit of Slieve Meelmore, taking in remnants of the granite industry whilst also linking to the story of the Silent Valley and water collection. Booking Essential – tel: 028 437 67391.
Join the market resident expert in the Foyer of this beautiful Victorian building at 12 noon for a walk around the market learning about its fascinating history.
Copeland Bird Observatory
Visit Copeland Bird Observatory situated on Old Lighthouse Island and host to many breeding birds, seals and even an occasional otter. On a guided walk you will see the local wildlife, old lighthouses and the keeper’s cottages. Booking essential – email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crom, set in the tranquil Upper Lough Erne, is one of Ireland’s most important conservation areas. There are few places which have more magical scenery or such a wealth of rare species. Visit the estate and discover the ancient yew trees and relax in the lakeside Summer House. You can rent one of Crom’s expanding fleet of boats to explore Crom from the waterways and visit the Orchard Tearoom to feast on delicious homemade lunches and snacks. Free entry to the estate on Saturday September 12.
If you would like further information regarding this event or would like to extend your stay and book a short break visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/ehod , www.facebook.com/discovernorthernireland or www.twitter.com/DiscoverNI.