Minister Hargey encouraging you to ‘Learn, Use, Enjoy’ your heritage

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is encouraging everyone to ‘Learn, Use, Enjoy’ their heritage as historic buildings in their locale prepare to open their doors for European Heritage Open Days in September

This year a number of properties in Mid and East Antrim are among the 200-plus registered to take part in hosted tours, talks and walks on September 10 and 11. There will also be digital events running all week from September 5.

Local venues taking part in the popular annual event include The Barbican, Glenarm Estate; Blackhead Lighthouse, Whitehead; and Kilwaughter Castle.

Launching this year’s event Minister Hargey said:: “European Heritage Open Days give all of us the chance to explore our rich heritage by visiting historic buildings not normally open to visitors.

Kilwaughter Castle

“European Heritage Open Days provide access to our natural surroundings from small urban green spaces and gardens, to expansive rural countryside, woodlands, waterways, and geological features.”

This year the event will celebrate a shared theme throughout Europe - ‘Sustainable Heritage: Learn, Use, Enjoy’.

Kilwaughter Castle will be opened for a series of tours on European Heritage Open Weekend, September 10-11. These tours will be free of charge.

The Castle dates to 1622, when a tower house was built by the Agnew family. It was rebuilt as a picturesque gothic house by John Nash in 1807 and unroofed by the government in 1951. Help celebrate its 400th year by booking a free tour (select times and specify pick-up point), which includes a photographic exhibition in Kilwaughter Village Hall and a visit to the castle. *Note that although a bus will be provided, this is a walking tour that includes uneven terrain, and strong footwear is essential. Although this is a free event, pre-booking (via Eventbrite) is essential as numbers are limited. There are no toilets at the castle, however, full toilet facilities including disabled access are available at Kilwaughter Village Hall, where the exhibition is taking place. Tour times 10am- 12pm, 1pm-3pm and 4pm-6pm. There is no parking at the castle itself, and strictly no access on foot. Visitors being collected from Larne Railway Station and Millbrook Park & Ride will be returned via bus after the tour.

The Barbican gate

In addition to this open weekend, there will an event exploring Kilwaughter Castle and it’s links to 17th century Gaelic poetry and music taking place in Kilwaughter Village Hall on September 24 for which tickets for will be available shortly.

Also opening their doors on Sunday, September 11, will be the Blackhead Lighthouse, Whitehead, and The Barbican, Glenarm Estate. Charity, The Irish Landmark Trust, have renovated and restored these iconic buildings to use as holiday accommodation and as they are heritage buildings, they open them up to the public one day a year during European Heritage Week. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour and admission is free.

Those who visit the Barbican will hear the romantic story behind the building of the remarkable Barbican gateway early 19th century. Randal William McDonnell, the sixth earl of Antrim, died in 1791, leaving no sons, so his estates and titles were divided between his three daughters, with the provision that they would all ultimately pass to their senior male offspring.

Over in Whitehead, tour goers can discover all about the Blackhead Lighthouse - a structure which was first mooted in 1893 by the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

However, it was early in 1899 that William Campbell and Sons were retained to construct the buildings and tower. Restoration of Blackhead Lightkeepers’ Houses has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, EHS of the Dept. of the Environment for Northern Ireland, the National Millennium Committee of the Irish Government and Irish Landmark private donors.

Minister Hargey said: “I would encourage you to find out more information on the Department for Communities’ website and to learn, use and enjoy the heritage across our communities that makes our places so special.”

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