Group Experiences in Northern Ireland
The iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle bears witness to a long and tumultuous history. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500, the earliest written record of the castle was in 1513.
It was seized by the ambitious MacDonnell clan in the 1550s, who set about stamping their mark on the castle under the leadership of the famous warrior chieftain Sorely Boy MacDonnell during an era of violence, intrigue and rebellion.
In the 17th century Dunluce was the seat of the earls of Antrim and saw the establishment of a small town in 1608. Visitors can explore the findings of archaeological digs within the cobbled streets and stone merchants’ houses of the long-abandoned Dunluce Town.
The dramatic history of Dunluce is matched by tales of a banshee and how the castle kitchens fell into the sea one stormy night in 1639.
The Saint Patrick Centre
The Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick is the starting point for any visitor who wishes to know more about Ireland’s patron saint. ‘Ego Patricius’ – The Story of Saint Patrick.
The exhibition explores the legacy of Patrick, ancient and modern, and recalls the saint’s own story – in his own words. A series of interactive displays allow visitors to explore how Patrick’s legacy developed in early Christian times and reveals the fabulous artwork and metalwork which was produced during this Golden Age. The exhibition also examines the major impact of Irish missionaries in Europe between the fifth and ninth centuries, a legacy which remains to this day.
Old Bushmills Distillery
Bushmills Irish Whiskey is made at the world’s oldest licensed working distillery in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the beautiful North Coast. The original grant to distil was signed in 1608 by King James 1st and there has been distillation on this site since then, using the unique water from a local stream and Irish barley.
The Bushmills Brand Experience encompasses guided tours around a working distillery with all the associated sights and smells, tutored whiskey tastings, a specialist whiskey shop and a well stocked gift shop with exclusive Bushmills merchandise. During your tour you will see the copper potstills used to distil this special spirit. The triple-distillation is at the heart of all Bushmills whiskies and creates a unique combination of smoothness and richness. At the conclusion of your tour you will be offered a whiskey or a soft drink in our 1608 Bar.
Seamus Heaney HomePlace
Step into the homeplace of Seamus Heaney and take a very personal journey through the life and literature of the poet and Nobel Laureate. The interactive exhibition is packed with stories, photographs and artefacts, not to mention the voice of the poet himself.
The Dark Hedges
This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century.
It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. In fact, the iconic trees have been used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones®, representing the Kingsroad.
Featured Scene: Season 2, Episode 1: The North Remembers – On the King’s Road, Arya Stark has escaped from King’s Landing, disguised as a boy. She is with Yoren, Gendry, Hot Pie and others who are to join the Night’s Watch, in a cart, travelling north on the Kingsroad.
To the west of Armagh City lies Navan Fort, the ancient “Emain Macha” of Irish history and legend and one of the earliest provincial capital of Ulster. It is a large earthwork on top of a drumlin and is thought to be the site of a pagan sanctuary.
In early Irish mythological tales, Emain was the Head Quaters of the Red Branch knights. It is one of a small number of sites identified as a prehistoric provincial capital in early sources. The others are Tara, Knockaulin and Cruachan.
The Tower Hotel Derry
The Tower Museum is located within Derry City’s historic walls and houses two permanent exhibitions.
1. “The Story of Derry” tells the colorful and dramatic history of the city from earliest prehistory to the present.
2. “An Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera” tells the story of one of the largest ships in the Spanish Armada, La Trinidad Valencera, which sank off the Donegal Coast in 1588 and was rediscovered in 1971.
Both exhibitions use a range of display and interactive techniques to present their stories.
The top of the Tower Museum (level 5) provides the only open air viewing facility in the heart of the city center with stunning panoramic views of the inner city and river Foyle.
The picturesque village of Belleek, situated on the banks of Lough Erne, is home to the world-famous Belleek Fine Parian China. View the techniques of the craftsmen at work in Northern Ireland’s oldest attraction.
Generation after generation of locals have learned a trade here, keeping heritage alive and creating Belleek’s distinctive and often intricate Parian china.
Derry’s 17th Century City Walls
A walk around the walls in Derry reveals a splendid city crammed full of history, heritage, interest and a vibrant cultural scene. This is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. The Walls were built during the period 1613 as defenses for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland.
The Walls, which are approximately 1.5km in circumference, form a walkway around the inner city and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day. The four original gates to the Walled City are Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. Three further gates were added – magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate.
Ulster American Folk Park
A world to excite your inner explorer. Immerse yourself in the story of the brave emigrants who made the journey across the Atlantic to America hundreds of years ago. Wander through the thatched cottages and log cabins and meet costumed characters who will show you traditional crafts, tell you a few stories and maybe even share a bit of their good food.
Board a full-scale emigrant ship to experience the conditions faced by many as they set sail for a new life in America. With 30 buildings and exhibits to explore, masses of things for the kids to do, the Ulster American Folk Park is a wonderfully unique experience.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Sway with the wind as you cross and take in the stunning views along the Causeway Coastal Route, best known as an outstanding area of natural beauty in Northern Ireland.
Connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge across the Atlantic Ocean, Carrick-a-Rede Island (home to a single building – a fisherman’s cottage) is the final destination. Suspended almost 100ft (30m) above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago
Crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is an exhilarating experience, high above the water and open to the elements. Thousands of people come every year to blow out the cobwebs, see beautiful coastal scenery, and spot rare wildlife.
Titanic Belfast is a world-leading visitor attraction and ‘must see’ on any trip to Belfast and Northern Ireland. The iconic, six-floor building is located in the heart of Belfast, at the historic site where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.
Titanic Belfast tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. The self-guided Titanic Experience extends over nine interpretive and interactive galleries, which explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of RMS Titanic, as well as the city and people who made her.
Winterfell Castle – Game of Thrones Experience
Winterfell Castle & Demesne, located just 40 minutes from Belfast, was used extensively for the filming of George R.R. Martin’s epic adaption of his Game of Thrones® novels. A replica of the Winterfell Castle archery range movie set has been masterfully recreated in the Winterfell Castle courtyard where the filming originally took place. Dress up in character costumes from the show, tour the movie set, stand exactly where ‘Jon Snow’, ‘Robb and Bran Stark’ stood and enjoy the thrill of firing live arrows! Experiences can include some or all the following:
- Meet the Direwolves – Odin and Thor
- Archery Experience
- The King’s Banquet at Winterfell
If you are looking for stately grandeur, then Castle Coole is a rare treat. Surrounded by its stunning landscape park on the edge of Enniskillen, this majestic 18th century home of the Earls of Belmore, designed by James Wyatt, was created to impress. The surrounding wooded landscape park sloping down to Lough Coole is ideal for long walks.
Belfast Food Trail
The award winning Belfast Food Tour™ takes you on a 4-hour fun and food filled guided walk to some top food and drink spots around Belfast City Center.
We start in the historic St George’s Market, meeting producers, then visit traditional bars, world-class shops and finish in a top restaurant in the lively Cathedral Quarter, eating and drinking over 25 of some of the best local food and drink along the way.
No need for breakfast, nor will you need lunch. Enthusiastic local foodie guides ensure guests get a flavor for the city and the produce of Northern Ireland.
Crumlin Road Gaol Belfast
On the 31st March 1996 Crumlin Road Gaol slammed shut its doors for what many thought would be the final time, but, on the 19th November 2012 the chains fell off and HMP Belfast was reborn as a major visitor attraction and conference centre.
Today you can take a guided tour of the prison and hear about the history of the site from when women and children were held within its walls through to the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners and learn about why the decision was taken to close the prison.
During the tour of the gaol you will be taken by your tour guide to visit the underground tunnel that used to connect the gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse, you will get a chance to sit in the Governor’s chair, view all the wings from the circle and of course pay a visit
Hillsborough Castle & Gardens
On a tour of the elegant Georgian castle, in the charming village of Hillsborough, County Down, you follow in the footsteps of world leaders, through plush and lovingly restored State Rooms including the Throne Room, State Drawing Room, Lady Grey’s Study, State Dining Room, Red Room and Stair Hall.
There are many layers of stories here, and your guide will share hundreds of years’ worth of tales, about celebrations, entertainment, diplomacy and negotiations. Standing in these rooms, where pivotal decisions have been made, you get a true sense of Hillsborough Castle’s importance. History aside, this is a working royal residence which has hosted members of the Royal Family as a ceremonial and personal base since 1922. It’s an intimate glimpse behind the scenes of a real royal