Culture in Northern Ireland: European Heritage Open Days

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This week, Northern Ireland embraces its heritage and culture with a look into the past. From 6-12 September, 250 heritage buildings will open their doors to the public.

Secret bunker, Co Armagh

Visitors can step inside a Cold War bunker just outside Portadown. The bunker is located in a non-descript field and was once part of a network of monitoring posts set up across the UK and manned by volunteers from the Royal Observer Corp. It was originally set up in preparation for potential nuclear explosions, where the effects and fallout would be studied – as well as offering a safe haven for survivors. The bunker has recently been restored and guided tours by original crew members in period uniform are available.

European Heritage Open Days Northern Ireland
Secret Bunker

Booking for this event is essential. Please reserve your spot via email.

Sentry Hill, Co Antrim

Transport yourself back to 19th/20th century rural Ulster at this historic farmhouse. Located within the grounds near Glengormley, the property is rich with history and contains a variety of fascinating artefacts and memorabilia.

The Victorian house was once home to the McKinney family, who moved to Ireland from Scotland in the early 1700s. The house and its contents have remained remarkably intact, with furniture, books, paintings, personal diaries, letters, photographs and souvenirs keeping the family’s memory alive. Tours of the house and craft activities will take place throughout the day on Saturday, September 11, between 11am-4pm.

Florence Court, Co Fermanagh

Visit Fermanagh’s historic National Trust’s Florence Court Mansion on 11 September. The architects of this property –now over 300 years old– are entirely unknown, giving an element of mystery to the mansion’s walls and what lies within. It is believed the main block probably dates to the 1760s and its colonnades and wings to the 1770s. The stunning gardens and parkland are equally as impressive, making this the perfect day out for those looking to immerse themselves in history or just take a walk among nature. 

European Heritage Open Days Northern Ireland
Florence Court

Kilclief Castle, Co Down

Take the family out to the shores of Strangford Lough for a day of music and theatrical performance. Built in the 15th century by the Bishop of Down, Kilclief Castle is shrouded in Celtic mythology. Watch as an out of work musician enters Kilclief Castle playing his flute, awakening an ancient ancestor from the mists of ancient Irish history. Reserve your space for the shows on September 11 from 1pm-4pm, with two shows each hour. 

European Heritage Open Days Northern Ireland
Legend at Kilclief Castle

Saint Macartan’s Church (The Forth Chapel), Co. Tyrone

Located in the heart of Clogher Valley, this 19th century church is a stunning site, referenced in the writings of William Carleton. The church –home to four recently discovered Clarke Studio stained glass windows dating from 1922– will host a free guided tour. The tour takes place on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September, starting at the car park at 3pm and concluding at 4:30pm.

European Heritage Open Days Northern Ireland
St Macartan’s Church

Booking is essential. Click here to reserve your spot.

All events are free to attend, however some may require a reservation. For more information, click here to view the full guide.

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