European Heritage Open Days: Historic venues in Larne, Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey taking part in programme

History will be brought to life at a number of County Antrim venues during this year’s European Heritage Open Days.
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This September, 195 of Northern Ireland’s historic buildings and monuments, landmarks and hidden gems will be offering free entry with many activities for the public to enjoy.

The packed programme ranges from guided tours and walks to talks and lectures, living history re-enactments, community fun days, musical events and screenings.

European Heritage Open Days will be running from September 9-10 with digital events throughout the week from September 4-10.

Sentry Hill house in Newtownabbey is one of the venues taking part in European Heritage Open Days 2023.  Photo: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough CouncilSentry Hill house in Newtownabbey is one of the venues taking part in European Heritage Open Days 2023.  Photo: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Sentry Hill house in Newtownabbey is one of the venues taking part in European Heritage Open Days 2023. Photo: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Some of the in-person events this year will require pre-booking; for further details and information about each venue’s accessibility, visit the Discover Northern Ireland website.

The venues taking part in the wider Larne, Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey areas are:

Sentry Hill, Newtownabbey

The 19th-century farmhouse and its contents provide a rare insight into life in rural Ulster during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Opening Saturday, September 9 from 11:00am - 4:00pm.

Visitors can learn more about Carrickfergus Castle as part of European Heritage Open Days.  Photo: Google mapsVisitors can learn more about Carrickfergus Castle as part of European Heritage Open Days.  Photo: Google maps
Visitors can learn more about Carrickfergus Castle as part of European Heritage Open Days. Photo: Google maps

Carrickfergus Castle, Carrickfergus

For more than eight centuries, Carrickfergus Castle has been an imposing presence on the shore of Belfast Lough. The medieval monument houses historical displays as well as cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Opening Saturday, September 9 from 9:30am - 4:30pm and Sunday, September 10 from 9:30am - 4:30pm.

Guided walking tour of Carrickfergus town

The one-hour walking tour will take visitors at a leisurely pace around Carrickfergus town centre, with an emphasis on local history and churches today. It will run on Saturday, September 9 at 5:00pm. Booking is required; email [email protected]

The fascinating history of St Cedma's Church in Larne will be explored as part of European Heritage Open Days.  Photo: Google mapsThe fascinating history of St Cedma's Church in Larne will be explored as part of European Heritage Open Days.  Photo: Google maps
The fascinating history of St Cedma's Church in Larne will be explored as part of European Heritage Open Days. Photo: Google maps

Sheils Buildings, Carrickfergus

Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy getting a closer look at this historic venue and its B2 listed buildings, which date back to 1868. As it is a residential site, on offer is an external viewing of the architecture only. The site is mostly accessible for wheelchair users although the forest style paths may present a challenge. Opening Saturday, September 9 from 12:00pm - 4:00pm.

Andrew Jackson Cottage and US Rangers Centre, Boneybefore

Beginning and ending at Andrew Jackson Cottage, local historian Adrian Hack from the Lead the Way Tours will take visitors back in time to examine how Carrickfergus reacted to World War II. Additionally, Adrian and local Andrew Jackson Cottage tour guide George will delve into the contribution of the elite commando unit, the US Rangers. Opening Saturday, September 9 from 11:00am - 3:00pm and Sunday, September 10 from 11:00am – 3:00pm. Booking is required; contact Carrickfergus Castle Visitor Information Centre on 028 9335 8262 or email [email protected]

Blackhead Lightkeepers’ Houses, Whitehead

Visitors will have the opportunity to see the conservation work of the Irish Landmark Trust while enjoying a self-guided tour of these restored Lightkeepers’ houses. Built at the height of Belfast’s shipping era, the lighthouse played a key role in guiding vessels, including the Titanic, out of Belfast Lough. Opening Sunday, September 10 from 10:00 am - 4:00pm. Booking is required; visit https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/open-day-at-blackhead-lightkeepers-houses-tickets-653951355107

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Drumalis Retreat and Conference Centre, Larne

The centre will be open for guided tours throughout the afternoon, while the grounds are open for all. Afternoon teas will be available at an additional charge. Opening Saturday, September 9 from 12:00pm – 4:00pm.

‘Carnegie - The Star Spangled Scotchman’, Larne Museum & Arts Centre

The Larne venue will be hosting an afternoon film showing of ‘Carnegie – The Star Spangled Scotchman’, which tells the story of Andrew Carnegie’s

life. It will be running on Saturday, September 9 from 2:00pm – 4:30pm. Booking is required; contact Larne Museum & Arts Centre on 028 2826 2443 or email [email protected]

Barbican Gatelodge, Glenarm Estate

Self-guided tours of the restored gate lodge will allow visitors the opportunity to see the conservation work of Irish Landmark Trust. Dating back to 1825, the miniature castle featuring turrets and battlements is now available to let as holiday accommodation. Opening Sunday, September 10 from 10:00 – 4:00pm. Booking is required; visit https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/open-day-at-the-barbicanglenarm-tickets-653843362097

Sustainable Heritage guided walk around Carnlough

Led by Mary Watson, this guided walk will explore the village of Carnlough and its industrial past. Starting at The Heritage Hub, featured buildings will include the Town Hall, Harbour House, the kelp store in the harbour, McAuley’s Bar, and a former corn mill. The walk will take around one hour on fairly flat terrain; outdoor shoes are recommended and on street car parking is available outside the Town Hall or at the free car park beside the Spar. It will run on Sunday, September 10 from 2:30 – 4:00pm. Booking is required; email [email protected]

Old Church Centre, Cushendun

This year’s European Heritage Open Days are part of Culture Month at the venue, featuring guided tours of the centre, a Hands of History exhibition and a panel discussion on Saturday looking at the impact of the Good Friday Agreement 25 years on. Opening times are Saturday, September 9 from 11:00am – 5:00pm and Sunday, September 10 from 11:00am – 5:00pm. Booking is required for the GFA panel; for further information visit: https://theoldchurchcentre.com/

The Gallery, Whitehead

Housed in a renovated Victorian building, this venue is showing September’s Art Exhibition of work by artists from across County Antrim. Opening times are Saturday, September 9 from 10:00am - 5:00pm and Sunday, September 10 from 10:00am – 5:00pm

St Cedma’s Church, Larne

St Cedma’s current building dates from 1350, making it the second oldest building in continuous use in County Antrim. Visitors are invited to come along and take a closer look at the building’s many features as they get an insight into its fascinating history. Opening Sunday, September 10 from 2:00pm – 4:00pm.