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Affordable and fun guiding throughout Northern Ireland

Apple Blossom

COUNTY ARMAGH IN BLOSSOM 

Spring is here, buds are out and the full blossom is on its way.

Get your groups together and tour the unique beauty of the Apple Blossom of County Armagh.

Stop off in the nearby villages and enjoy good food in the pubs and cafes around.

Take in the history around the orchard farms, villages and stately homes in the area.

ALL IN THE COMPANY OF MYSELF BARBARA  A LOCAL TOURIST GUIDE BORN AND BRED IN THE AREA.

I can plan your very own bespoke group tour complete with transport.

Hurry don't be late - the blossom won't wait!

Call 07740 51142 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss.

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Quote from Patrick's Confession  in the 9thC Irish Illuminated Manuscript "The Book of Armagh"

"I Patrick, a sinner,a most simple countryman, 
the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many"

Ancient Irish Manuscripts tell us so much about a period in the early christian history of my
homeland City of Armagh.

Why not follow a site trail with me around the ancient City of Armagh and discover the City's importance in the education of the early scholars from the shores of Ireland.

All year round  guided Group Walking Tours available on request max 15 (with audio system)

Contact Barbara on:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or call: +44 (0) 77 4051 1442

www.armaghguidedtours.com

 Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2022guided tours ireland logo

 

Delighted to be part of this amazing "international" family.  Life as a Tourist Guide for me is an ongoing learning curve.  The University of Life has been my best source for over 21 years!  Certainly I have witnessed tourism open up after "The Troubles" and to peak just before the Covid 19 epidemic.  A keen member of www.tourguides.ie, the Institute of Tourist Guiding and The Guild my guiding backup is amazing.

As a Tourist Guide today I define my role as "a local guide for you the Tourist".  Now that we are picking up after Covid 19 my role as your personal Tourist Guide for Northern Ireland has blossomed and I am excited about meeting new tourists ready to travel with me as their local Guide for 2022.

Barbara (Biddy)

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Last week my path took me on a walk through the peaceful woods of Ballymoyer or Ballymyre three miles from Newtownhamilton, County Armagh and just about four miles from our farm. What a lovely day with a clear blue sky overhead, the shadows of the tall tree tops on the forest floor and the music of the river all along my way.

Guided Tours Ireland/Armagh Guided Tours Wishing you all a Happy & Healthy New Year

New Year 2022 Blog Pic

Wishing you all a Happy Healthy 2022 and many thanks for your continued support in 2021.
I’m always keen to move forward and see what the new year has to bring. Plans are already in place for many of you to visit in 2022 if the Covid situation allows you. This I appreciate.

Embrace a Giant

Guided Tours Ireland are Good to Go!



I know that many of you have taken a lot more time to think and share thoughts on that long held dream to visit the homeland of your ancestors.
With small family groups we certainly can create a lot of happy memories, visit townlands, graveyards, family homes all together and jointly share our love for the ancestral places of what shaped us today.

Living on an island I am always drawn to the edge and tours around the famous Antrim Coastline are not to be missed………a walk along the headlands and a paddle in the ocean bring out the child in all of us. Ancient Celtic settlements tell us of our early ancestors while castles and churches reveal our more recent history.

Good food and accommodation are very important and as a keen cook and farmer’s wife my love of local produce is key to fully embracing life here. Picnic hampers are certainly very popular and ideal for large family groups.

Choosing where to lay your hat is also very important when travelling as a family. I will be out on the road shortly to chat with my favourite hotels, B & B’s and restaurants………..ohh lots more good food to experience!

From my Ferguson Family here at Beechlodge Farm, Armagh, Northern Ireland I wish you and all those you love dearly a Happy Healthy 2022.
Best Wishes

Barbara (Biddy)
PS Do hope you enjoy my own personal amateur “seasons” video. Pictures were taken by me on my phone. They reflect the changes in landscape around my farm here in County Armagh and a trip to County Fermanagh. May help you decide what season you would like to visit.

 

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 Once in Royal David's City is a Christmas Carol originally written
as a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander, 
The carol was first published in 1848 in her hymbook
"Hymns for Little Children". 
A year later the English organist Henry John Gaunteltt discovered the poem
and put it to music.

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Hello Friends

Hope you and your family are all keep well and looking forward to the Christmas Holidays.

I do hope you had an opportunity to travel and enjoy some time away in 2021.

Glad that I took advantage during relaxed Covid times to travel a little throughout the UK and Ireland…….sometimes on personal holidays and other times with visitors.  Travelling at a slower safe pace certainly  does allow you to absorb a lot more on your journey.    

2021 was a year of uncertainty in the travel industry.  The year started out with enthusiastic planning followed by cancellation or Covid Regulation Changes.  Some people managed to travel while others decided to postpone until 2022.

At home here on the farm I have been doing a lot of the normal things…….lots of baking, hiking and catching up with friends and family. 

Long easy walks on my own gave me a lot of time to think and my mind drifted to thoughts about organising more “easy going” guided group walks with specific interests.  

Living close to the ancient Armagh City – Saint Patrick’s Chosen City -  my thoughts drifted to other Pilgrim Walks throughout UK.

It’s early days yet but I have linked up with my Blue Badge Guides in the UK to work on suitable Pilgrim’s Walking Holidays in 2022.

As always my very popular personal car/coach tours will still be available in 2022.  Also my local Armagh Village Walks will certainly be a large part of my 2022 tours.

I know that it has been a difficult time and our travel lifestyle has certainly changed but I feel it is important to work with the situation in the best possible way.   

Thanks to all who have travelled with me in the past and welcome to my new travellers in 2022.

So from my family home here at Beechlodge Farm, County Armagh to your family I wish you all a safe and Happy Christmas 2021.

Best Wishes

Barbara (Ferguson)
www.guidedtoursireland.com
www.armaghguidedtours.com

 

 

 

 FAMILY, FRIENDS OR CLUB GROUP TOURS ARMAGH CITY

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Heard about the monkey and the stone mason dispute in Armagh City?

Take a stroll out with Barbara, a local long standing Tour Guide for Armagh City, and enjoy the quirky fun history of the old City of Armagh.

Share the fun with your friends/family/Club on this 2 hr walk.

Tour starts and finishes at the Charlemont Arms Hotel (Ulsterbus Station at rear entrance)  where you get to enjoy a complimentary glass of locally crafted Cider www.macivors.com
(Full Audio System available on request)

Group Tour ie 1 to 14 (inclusive) £75

BOOKING ESSENTIAL - NAME YOUR DATE!

Call Barbara on 07740 511442 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book or discuss.
ALL COVID 19 REGULATIONS AT DATE OF TOUR WILL APPLY

 

 

MEMORIES OF ALLISONS STUDIO ARMAGH

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Running a Tour Guiding business within Northern Ireland allows me the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the world.  Its exhilarating to see your own country through the eyes of the visitor.  I have been in business since 1999 so as they say “there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then”. 

Living on a working farm close to Armagh City it is a wonderful thing for me to share Armagh City and its County with strangers.

Some years ago when my mum became frail and due to the onset of Macular Degeneration was unable to pursue her favourite pastime of knitting, life became somewhat lonely for a once active farmer’s wife. 

After a lot of persuasion, she joined the local Armagh Partially Sighted Club and attend their weekly meetings.  At first she felt somewhat guilty leaving the farm during the day to sit chatting in the City!  For an 88 year old who worked on the farm all her lifetime it’s hard to change a habit of a life time.

However surrounded with lovely people who welcomed her into their circle she took to the Club just “like a duck to water”.  She enjoyed the weekly chats, a cup of tea and very soon she became actively involved in organising the weekly calendar.

Annual Outings were discussed and many were concerned that this would be difficult given the mobility of the members however mother stepped up and suggested that I, her daughter, could organise that………….and so began the Annual Mystery Outing of the Orchard Club for Visually Impaired Persons.

A tour with a difference had to be carefully thought out and with guidance from the Club Volunteers and helpers we set off on our coach tour usually in April/May to enjoy some good social chat about the surrounding countryside, villages and cities we travelled through.  It certainly made me sit up and take notice of the various variety of trees, colours, hills, townlands  etc  my delight was in sharing a mental picture with all on board of the landscape we travelled through.  Short stops off to feel, smell and share our thoughts and knowledge were humbling.  The treat of the day was “dinner at dinner time” in one of the best hotels or restaurants I could find on the route.  No “tour menu” please we want the white tablecloth with silver service.  This was one aspect of the tour which I was very determined these lovely people would enjoy the best of fine food in a top establishment.  We managed and enjoyed  it as we laughed and helped each other through the fine dining experience.

Mum passed away peacefully some years back and it was just yesterday when I was asked by Ann a Volunteer to come and speak to the Club as they had been unable to meet or travel during the Covid 19.

I was excited at the thought of being back among such a jolly bunch who in the adverse of poor visibility were ready to once again embrace the social joy of “the wee Club”.

I dusted down my favourite Roger Weatherup books and began to look for a suitable topic that would encourage all of the group to become interactive.  On the first page I was absorbed  by an article on the story of “Allison Studio in Armagh City”.  There it was the very topic that everyone in the group would have something to say about…………and so they did………..what an afternoon I had with truly happy inspirational people.

Tour Guiding all over Northern Ireland, RoI and Scotland over the past 20 years has been amazing but right on my doorstep is this small group of visually impaired people with whom I travel once a year is the icing on the cake for me.

Thanks all for teaching me how to smile in the face of adversity.

Barbara

November 2021

 

 

 LANE WALK 1

THE LONG LOANIN'S OF KILMORE

Kilmore Farm

 You say Armagh, and I see the hill
with the two tall spires or the square low tower;
the faith of Patrick is with us still;
his blessing falls in a moonlight hour,
when the apple orchards are all in flower.
(Poet   John Hewitt)

Just about 5 miles outside the ancient City of Armagh, perched on a low hilltop sits the crossroads of Kilmore. 20th Century Irish Poet John Hewitt wrote about walking the lanes of Kilmore when visiting his grandmother here. A fertile land once a monastic settlement of the Culdees. During the apple blossom season in early May these rolling hills are awash with the hues of pink apple blossom. A guided walk through the twisty lanes of this ancient landscape will not only allow you to enjoy the beauty of the apple blossom but learn a lot about life past and present in this ancient settlement.
Approx 4 mile round walk.

LANE WALK 2
LOUGHGALL VILLAGE TO ORCHARD FARM

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Step out in the pretty Conservation Village of Loughgall and enjoy an interesting walk through its historical past. Today the grand entrance and leafy driveway to the Copes Manor House is quite the landmark of the village. The well known 18thC poet Jonathan Swift spent a lot of time with the Copes when in need of a break from Dublin. Leave the village behind and take to the lanes nearby to enjoy the panoramic views over the orchards. Identify the timeline of the apple tree as you guess the ages of the various orchards in view.
Approx 4 mile round walk.

 LANE WALK 3
DAN WINTER'S COTTAGE LANE WALK

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On the outskirts of Loughgall village tucked back in its farmyard sits Dan Winter’s Cottage. Take a step back in time and hear all about Dan Winter and this amazing traditional weaver’s thatched cottage. Leave the cottage behind and walk the steep hill known as The Diamond Hill only to discover more history and numerous orchards in blossom in sight.
Approx 4 mile round walk.

Irish Mythology -NUADA OF THE SILVER ARM

Along my way with visitors to this land I am often drawn to sharing its myths and legends. History on its own is boring and incomplete without also capturing the culture of early life on this land.  To me it allows the curious visitor to embrace more about our present culture and how it is shaped by our past!

Lost without the opportunity to visit, chat and explore more about our land at present I have written down the legend of Nuada which today holds links to the ancient City of Armagh.  When the time is right take a visit to the hilltop Anglican Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh City and there you will find the strange stone figure of "Nuada".

According to legend, Nuada was King of the Tuatha Dé Dannan before they came to Ireland.

A skilled hunter and fighter, Nuada led his people into Ireland from the north.  He set up the court at Tara and ruled the Tuatha Dé Dannan fairly.

He made his home in Brú na Bóinne until he was tricked into giving up both his home and his wife to the Dagda, Chief of the Tuatha Dé Dannan.  Even though the Tuatha Dé Dannan had arrived on the Emerald isle, they did not yet control Ireland.

At that time, the once-mighty Fir Bolg and the monstrous Fomorians ruled over most of the Island but the cunning Nuada had a plan to conquer them both.

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In Irish legend, Nuada was the first king of the Tuatha Dé Dannan.  He brought his people to Ireland and fought the native Fir Bolg for control of the island. Nuada went to the king of the Fir Bolg and asked for half of the island.  The Fir Bolg refused his demand so the two groups went to war.

In this fight Nuada lost a hand.  Being physically imperfect he was no longer elgible for kingship so he abdicated in favour of the half-Formorian Bres.

Unfortunately Bres allow the Formorians to take control of Ireland.

The Tuatha Dé Dannan crafted a silver hand for Nuada so he could reclaim his place as king.

Nuada held the throne for another twenty years until Bres returned with a Fomorian army to take power by force.  This time the powerful warrior Lugh led the Tuatha Dé Dannan to victory in a battle that secured their power and took the throne after which Nuada was killed.

The Tuatha Dé Dannan are often interpreted as a representation of the first Celtic invaders of Ireland.  The Fir Bolg were earlier inhabitants, while the Fomorians were subsequent invaders who sought to claim the Island as well.

Nuada may be partially rooted in Irish history, but he also possibly originated from Germanic religion before it was brought to Ireland.  Similar figures in Britain, Wales and Scandinavia show Nuada's arrival from outside of Ireland is both factual and legendary.

Would love to hear your story on Nuada from your part of the world.

Barbara.........your local Tourist Guide 
Always travel with a local

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara & her great outdoor lifestyle

Check out my very own photo snaps of some of the place I have taken visitors in 2019.   Some are a bit out of focus - proof they are my very own snaps!

You can see I obviously enjoy the great outdoors, animals, wild flowers, activities and home cooking. Just can't wait to share these places and more with you when you are ready to visit Ireland/Northern Ireland.

 

wwiini tandragee war memorial 1943What a picture!

First stop Brownlow House, Lurgan where they set up the Headquarters for the US Army and plans for secret operations were drawn up.

Today an excellent WW2 Exhibition with video footage open to the general public is situated in the magnificently restored 19th Brownlow House.

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HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY FROM ST PATRICK'S CHOSEN CITY - ARMAGH CITY

 Hope you are all keeping well.  Ah well no St Patrick's Day Walking Tours for me  or you this year again but I am busy working on great family/group outdoor activities for us all to enjoy hopefully during this summer ahead.  

We all need the tonic of wildness! Time to discover more about what is on our doorstep with a flavour of adventure.  

Took my walk out today (Tue 16 March) around the ancient "hills of Armagh City".  Amazing what you can see and learn from the views of a good hilltop...........and only the locals know the best places to go!  

Here's to a good St Patrick's Day however you get to spend it.  Sure we can always stomp around St Patrick's Chosen City - Armagh any day of the year!

 Sorry folks having difficult posting pictures.  

 

 

 

 

Thanks for popping in to take a read........................

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DOWN ON THE FARM WITH BARBARA IN COUNTY ARMAGH

Well Thursday is the 1st April 2021 and I am delighted to say that life here in Northern Ireland is gladly returning to normal.  Living on a working farm my main distraction throughout Covid 19 has been the annual lambing season.  Little did I know that in March 2020 I would continue to work on the farm and help with lambing 2021!

Working with new birth brings me close to nature and helps to distract from the unsettling world news.  All lambs are born now and out in fields.  Looking forward to enjoying their new life skip, hop and jump down by the river banks at dusk.  It truly is a refreshing picture.

Hello 2021 and Northern Ireland is once again in Covid19 “lockdown” so my car is parked and its back to long walks in my local park.
I’m lucky as Gosford Forest Park (240 acres) is just one mile from my farm here in County Armagh on the outskirts of the small historical Plantation Town of Markethill.

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The story starts with Sam McGredy (the first) (late 19thC) and his passion for pansies. To fulfil his dreams he moved from Southern Ireland to a small plot in the townland of Garvaghy, Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

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Travel memories make us smile. 2020 didn’t create many good memories but earlier years prompted great memories for me. The travellers with whom I stomped over the Giant’s Causeway Stones and puffed back up that steep walk to the Centre. The personal tours through the less well known areas of Northern Ireland into twisty long lanes in search of old townlands, old homesteads and graveyards.

My own personal handsfree Audio Guide System provides me as your group Tourist Guide the opportunity to draw in the tour group from the noisy environment and gently explain the sites we are exploring.

The humble famine pots sole purpose was to feed the starving population of Ireland in the packed workhouses and in temporary soup kitchens that had been set up across the country.

Excited and proud to be the approved owner of  "We're Good To Go" 

Contact Us

Barbara Ferguson
Accredited Blue Badge Tourist Guide
Northern Ireland Guided Tours
41 Coolmillish Road
Markethill
Co. Armagh
BT60 1SH
Northern Ireland

For your answer to an experienced & fun guided tour of Northern Ireland - Barbara is here to help

+44 (0) 28 3755 1119

+44 (0) 7740 511 442

Email: info@guidedtoursireland.com

The Professional Association for Blue Badge Tourist Guides Throughout Britain

Approved Tourist Guides of Ireland

Institute of Tourist Guiding