Seamus Heaney Homeplace is an arts and literary centre offering insight into the life and work of the local born internationally acclaimed poet. Set in the heart of Mid Ulster it provides an inspiring exhibition, regular artistic events, education facility, sensory garden and creative zone. The onsite café is highly recommended and the shop is stocked with bespoke locally crafted gifts.
An authentic heritage experience, not to be missed, is the Lough Neagh Fisheries Visitor Tour in the Eel Fishery at Toome. Here you will be introduced to the myths of Lough Neagh, the Mesolithic history of the area, the fishing heritage that continues to this day and the science of eels. This is a hands on tour which includes a visit to the factory floor (circumstances permitting) and a sample tasting of the unique smoked Lough Neagh eel.
Antrim Gardens and Clotsworthy House are a hidden gem in Antrim town. These historic 400 year old gardens are beautifully restored and offer visitors many wonderful surprises. Clothsworthy House was built c1843 by the 10th Viscount Massereene and houses a Garden Heritage Exhibition, café and gift shop. Many events and exhibitions are held here throughout the year.
Springhill House, a 17th century plantation house boasts a Celebrated Costume Collection and even a resident ghost. With fine portraits, furniture, walled garden and grounds there is plenty to see and many enthralling tales to listen to.
Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurley House is the ancient stronghold of the O’Neill Dynasty and stands overlooking the town of Dungannon. It is now restored as a people’s park with adjoining exhibition and guided tours available.
Tullyhogue Fort, the inauguration site of the O’Neills is a short distance away from Hill of the O’Neill, and is a very special and atmospheric experience. There is free onsite parking, picnic tables, no entrance fee and information boards along the path. This is a real Hidden Gem, best found on Google Maps due to insufficient sign posting.
Beaghmore Stone Circles and cairns date which back to the late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods around 2,000-1,200 BC are located near Cookstown in County Tyrone. They were discovered quite recently in or around 1942. So far more than 1,250 specific stones have been identified making it one of the largest formations of its kind. Archaeologists believe that only a portion of the total site has been revealed. Bones, fireplaces, flint tools, burial cists and a broken porcellanite axe head are some of the artefacts recovered during excavations that took place in 1947 and again in 1965. The site is believed to have been associated with burials and religious ceremonies. Parking on site and no entrance fee.
Tirnoney Dolmen, located outside of Maghera at the side of a small road, is a prehistoric tomb at least 3000 to 6000 years old. It is interesting for history lovers and a photographic opportunity unspoilt by any unnecessary modernity.
Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey, located on the outskirts of Portglenone, is part of the Cistercian Order which was founded in Franc at Citeaux in Burgundy in the Year 1098. Taking its inspiration from the Rule of St. Benedict the Cistercian life was to be one of the secluded communal intercession, contemplative prayer with manual work given its prominent position. The monks living here assemble in church eight times a day for prayer and Mass. The monastery has a guesthouse for short retreats, a Repository, a café, and a craft shop selling a wide range of souvenirs including Irish Linen and emblems.
Island Turf Crafts is a museum and gift shop. The hand crafted gifts using 5,000 year old Irish peat from some of our oldest bog lands are the perfect way to bring a little bit of Ireland home. Visitors can not only watch the craftsmen here at work, they can also enjoy the bog museum which displays the lifestyles and habits of pre-historic Ireland and the artefacts from Irish bog lands. Exhibits include bog oak sculptures, numerous turf products, a simulated peat or turf bog, and bones and large antlers from a Great Irish Elk dating back some 15,000 years.