The history of Mid Ulster will be re-told using characters from a by-gone age in a new series of tours, kicking off at the Hill of the O’Neill in Dungannon.
Four coach tours, organised by Mid Ulster District Council, offer the opportunity for locals and visitors alike to experience some of the region’s most historic landmarks, stretching back to the times of the ancient kings of Ulster to life in an early 19th century residence.
The first tour (18th July) will showcase the historic Hill of the O’Neill, a highland rampart above the town of Dungannon which has been one of the most strategically important sites in the history of Ireland.
Stronghold of the famous O’Neill dynasty, its view of all nine counties of Ulster enabled its occupants to command the surrounding area.
At least two castles are thought to have been built on the site, as well as a grand manor house and a fortified town.
Lissan House, home of the Staples family for 300 years, which shot to fame in 2003 when it reached the national final of the BBC’s Restoration programme, is the next tour (25th July), when visitors will take a unique journey through the house and the estate in the company of some of the characters from the past who shaped the development of the 300 acre estate.
Actors will also be bringing history to life on a tour of Killymoon Castle (15th August), when after being destroyed by fire in 1801, Colonel William Stewart built a new more imposing castle, designed by John Nash, the famous London architect.
The final tour in the series is to Bellaghy Bawn (22nd August) when guide, Gerry Derby, will reveal the history of the ‘Plantation Fort’ which was built in 1618 by the Vintneris Company of London and was substantially renovated in 1780s by Bishop Harvey, Earl of Bristol.
It remained a family residence until 1981 and is now a visitor centre, displaying exhibits on the history of the area dating as far back to early Mesolithic man.
The tours take place on:
Saturday 18th July, Hill Of The O’Neill
Saturday 25th July, Lissan House
Saturday 15th August, Killymoon Castle
Saturday 22nd August, Bellaghy Bawn
All tours cost £8 per person. A bus will depart from the Burnavon at 6pm for each tour.
To book and for further information contact Cookstown Visitor Information Centre on 028 8676 9949.