It’s May Day holiday week 2020 and the weather is fantastic. Certainly, the weather for blossom and beauty. As a local Tour Guide my career started right here on my doorstep in the middle of rural North Armagh in the orchards around the pretty plantation village of Loughgall.
Growing up on a small mixed family farm in this area with orchards right outside my bedroom window this was my local scenery. Family day trips to the mountains and the seaside in the summer months were an introduction to the beauty of the coast and the tranquillity of our sweeping mountain ranges.
Through the eyes of the tourist I rapidly became aware of how our tender caring lifestyle and our soft rolling landscape was something soon to be adored by all the world!
In my very early days in tourism I realised that many people from the coast and the mountains of Northern Ireland had not witnessed the beauty of these rolling hills in May bloom. My apple blossom coach tours soon became unique to our area in County Armagh. Visitors now come from all over the world to enjoy the beauty, tranquillity and local history of the area.
Long standing family acquaintances with the local orchard farm of McAlisters prompted the opportunity to drive closeup to the blossom and hear the story of life on an apple farm from Noel and his family.
The Tradition of Family Farms in Northern Ireland
The McAlister’s farm is a fourth generation family farm – all part of the intimate lifestyle of farming in Northern Ireland today. Today the farm is owned by Noel & Hilary and five children with sons John and Ben also working the farm.
The farm started out in 1921 when a Jonathan McAlister purchased the farm. Shortly after he was to be married and someone was needed to “hold the fort” while the honeymoon took place. Stepping up to the plate to help his uncle out was Noel’s father another Jonathan and he never left the farm!
The first Jonathan had no family so Jonathan the second took on the apple farm! The family link continued in true traditional style when Jonathan McAlister’s Noel’s father took sick and Noel left school and to take on the farm.
Today Noel and his sons John and Ben run a pristine successful 180 ac family apple business.
So now you see where my roots lie! Certainly it has been disappointing in the present environment within the Covid 19 virus to miss the opportunity to share this beauty with you all BUT it has been a mindful healing process to follow the seasonal opening up of the beauty of apple blossom throughout my homeland County of Armagh. All done I must say with superb pictures and videos delivered from by the McAlister family.
Thanks to all at the McAlister farm who kindly took time at the weekend
to take the pics and video and send to me.