Grey Abbey

Grey Abbey European Heritage

From historical houses to treasure troves of intriguing artefacts and fascinating connections to people and history, Tourism NI is encouraging people to explore local cultural heritage with the European Heritage Open Days taking place on 8th and 9th September.

With 2018 designated as a European Year of Cultural Heritage, there is no better time to uncover Northern Ireland’s unique heritage and discover quirky facts about local history, as Tourism NI’s Director of Product Development, Rosemarie McHugh explains.

“Northern Ireland has a wealth of history and culture attached to it and this year we want to encourage people to get out and explore their local community by visiting some of the many sites that are open for free as part of European Heritage Open Days 2018. This is the opportunity to see behind the scenes of some of Northern Ireland’s most historic buildings, not often open to the public.

“In the year of Cultural Heritage, we’re making the most of the opportunity to grow visitor numbers with culturally motivated tourists. Our visitors come to Northern Ireland with an appetite to really explore and connect with our landscape, culture and heritage and we’re helping them with this journey of cultural discovery,” Rosemary added.

Castle Coole

To test your knowledge of Northern Ireland’s hidden heritage and quirky culture, Tourism NI has created a quirky cultural quiz, with the chance to win some fabulous prizes. To take the challenge visit discovernorthernireland.com/loveheritage

To inspire those interested in exploring their cultural heritage journey this coming weekend, here is a list of just some of the quirky culture and hidden heritage that exists right here on Northern Ireland’s doorstep:

Did you know…

Antrim: The historic village of Gracehill was a settlement founded by the Moravians in 1765 and Northern Ireland’s First Conservation area. For Moravians, the burial ground was known as “Gods Acre” and had a strict layout. Men were buried to the left and women to the right of a central path. All the headstones were of the same shape and design – the Moravians believe that everyone is equal in death – and were laid almost flat on the ground.

Belfast: Next door to the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office you will find Sinclair Seamen’s Church, a unique maritime-inspired church. Built in 1853 as a tribute to the city’s seafaring traditions, its interior features a pulpit shaped like a ship’s prow, the bell from 19th Century-built battleship HMS Hood and lifeboat-shaped collection boxes.

Down: Grey Abbey is the oldest example of Gothic architecture in Ireland founded in 1193 by John De Courcy.  In the 17th century the abbey ruins were acquired by the Montgomery family, who still live in the grounds to this day.

Fermanagh: Enniskillen is Ireland’s only island town and Castle Coole is regarded as the finest country house in Ireland. The house itself has no back door which is said to be a deliberate omission in order to discourage salesmen from calling.

To find out more about the list of those properties open in your area for European Heritage Open Days 2018 and to get involved visit discovernorthernireland.com/events/European-Heritage-Open-Days/.

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