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Affordable and fun guiding throughout Northern Ireland

Finally the winds and snow of the winter lifted and the winter sun shone through so out I went off to the hills and mountains close to my home.  What a day!

Come with me on a stress free easy hike around the hills and mountains of County Down.  I don't do hard hikes.............

Did you know that St Valentine is laid to rest in Dublin?

John Sprat was an Irish Carmelite that was known for his abilities as a preacher and dedicated work with the destitute in the city of Dublin.  While visiting Rome, his fame had apparently preceded him, and he became hot on the Jesuit circuit, giving sermons and receiving tokens of esteem from his peers.

One of the more impressive tokens he was gifted were the remains of Saint Valentine by Pope Gregory XV1.

Today the shirne is popular with couples who come to pray for St Valentine to watch over their lives together and to celebrate the feast day of February 14th which includes the Blessings of the Rings for those about to marry.  This shrine is today in Whitefriar Street Church Dublin.

So what does this particular collection of St Valentine relics contain?  According to an inscription on a gold plate attached to the casket -

This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.

 

Oh what sweet memories.  Every good Irish home made pancakes for tea; the main meal on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday - beginning of Lent.  

I have big memories of a smoke filled kitchen with the pan on the range and the pancakes more or less flying from the pan to the table!  With nine mouths to feed it was just like a production line.

All decorated up with lots of butter and sugar.............no fancy syrups etc! 

Delicious but what a mess, melted butter all over your hands and sugar all over the table but lots of laughter around the table.

A thoroughly memorable family meal.

Enjoy your pancakes today BUT keep it simple!

It's February 2018 and I'm looking out the window at the winter sunshine and frost on the rolling hills around my farm here in County Armagh.  I'm planning to wrap up warm and take a walk out and check out what is happening in the countryside now that as my mother used to say "the days are on the turn".  Snowdrops have appeared and daffodils are not far behind.  The heather is also on its way into colour.

Are you visiting Ireland this year?  Are you planning to visit the North of the Island?  Do you want to see the vast rural countryside rarely mentioned in promotional materials?  Meet the locals in their village shops and enjoy a chat at a local farmer's mart?  Maybe you simply just want a drive into the countryside to enjoy the landscape, step inside a traditional local pub and taste the traditional food of Northern Ireland - potatoes, vegetables and meat, all washed down with a glass of local cider or beer and of course there's soda bread?

You know in your heart of hearts just what you want to see when you visit this rural island of Ireland.  Don't be put off with the thoughts of how to travel into the countryside we can arrange that all for you.  We may even get you a job on the farm!

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to witness the real life of Ireland in 2018.  Will be waiting to hear from you soon...........

 

 

 

Traditionally each Irish home would pull rushes every 1 February and make a replacement Saint Bridget's Cross to hang over the door of their home and also on the rafters to protect the house from fire and evil.  Saint Bridget shares her name with a Celtic Goddess and held supernatural ability rivaling that of any other Irish Saint.  Faughart, County Lough is said to be her birthplace.  Her conversion to Christianity and her ability to convince the King of Leinster to give her enough land that her cloak would cover proved to be a shock to the King when she placed her cloak on the ground and it grew and grew to provide enough land to build the first of many Christian Monasteries in Ireland.

Enjoy Saint Bridgets Day with its mix of Celtic and Christian beliefs.  Is it the start of Spring with the fertility of the soil in view?  Hope so however snow is still around the hills here at my home - never give up maybe by the end of the day things will have changed.

 

I have been walking the hedgerows over the weekend and discovered this little shape on my dirty boot when I finished my walk today!  Is it a lucky shamrock?  I'm going to take it as that and start the season with "Hedgerow Walks".  January always brings the walkers out but what boring routes they take.  Walking with the hedgerows is inspiring, refreshing and stimulating.  Every month they produce visible changes.  Wildlife and smells vary and the soft land keep your mind and body alert.  I know I am lucky to live on a farm and have hedgerows everywhere but you can find hedgerows in public places as well or why not ask a farmer if you can walk his field - provided there are no animals in it!  Enjoy nature get a REAL pair of walking boots and get out there!

Well I find it difficult to close the page on 2017.  It was such an eventful year for me.  While every year I meet lovely people 2017 was something special.  I met so many lovely people, walked many new routes, discussed life today in Northern Ireland and told a few ould yarns along the way.  Laughed and laughed with strangers who became my friends.  I just love this job and am delighted that my 2018 diary is already pretty full of interesting adventures with new visitors whom I look forward to sharing my homeland here in the North of the Island of Ireland with.  Will you be in Northern Ireland this year?  I would love to walk, talk and laugh with you along your chosen route.  

Hello all, 

A message of Best Wishes to all my friends and my numerous 2017 visitors; wishing you all an enjoyable family time at Christmas and a Healthy & Prosperous 2018. I'm off now to bake some shortbread and mince pies for a traditional family dinner at Beechlodge Farm.  Looking forward to meeting up with my new visitors and working with my regular Tour Operators in 2018.  Thanks all for your support in 2017.

 

 

Great two day trip around the Antrim Coast in winter sunshine all wrapped up with a quick cookery class at Tracey's welcoming home on the shores of Strangford Lough. Soda bread and homemade Abernethy butter topped with Tracey's very own delicious plumb jam.  What an afternoon of fun, laughter and amazing good Irish breads and treats.  Sorry Tracey we left your kitchen in such a mess!!  Guests were certainly overwhelmed with true Irish hospitality.

 

 

This is an amazing piece of work which stretches 80 metres long.  Made from Irish linen, the tapestry has been hand woven on  a state-of-the-art Jacquard Loom using linen thread sourced from one of the last surviving mills in Northern Ireland.  Thirty stitchers meticulously hand-embroidered all of the finer details.  Well worth a visit when next at Ulster Museum, Belfast - to be enjoyed not only by Game of Throne followers but also those interested in crafts.

Just had a very successful four day bespoke Thanksgiving  Hop Around Tour of Northern Ireland. Enjoyed the Antrim Coast and Giant's Causeway at its best; purchased some fine Irish Linen; checked out Titanic Exhibition and walked Belfast; Thanksgiving at Ulster American Folk Park and followed the trail of Saint Patrick to Armagh City.  Savoured lots of good local food, craft beers and of sampled lots of Irish Whiskey along the way.  What an amazing run around all from the idyllic  setting of the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, County Down.

 

Great private tour along the North Antrim Coast on Sunday - little traffic - great visibility - and good company.  

Enjoy the seasons and visit Northern Ireland all year round.

 

Team up with a local professional guide as your traveller, shopper and driver and enjoy local life in Northern Ireland.

 

Now taking requests for bespoke planned day tours or extended tours for visiting Groups or individuals 2018.  Contact us to discuss.

Bespoke tours to the Giant's Causeway during the Autumn very popular.

 

Time to visit and take that long overdue walk through your ancestral homeland.

 

We are pleased to announce that we are now taking bookings for Guided Tours and walking tours and coach tours in Northern Ireland for 2018.

Soaked up more on the life of C S Lewis when visiting Kilbroney Park at Rostrevor, County Down last week.  C S Lewis was born in Belfast and made reference to many parts of Northern Ireland in his writings. 

Had a fantastic two day tour with a long standing ICA group which I have been working with for approximately nine years.  Every tour brings its own excitement and laughs - we certainly did a good deal of laughing!  The sun shone on us as we walked the historical 17th century walls of Derry and explored the amazing architecture of the Guild hall.  A trip inside revealed the motto and purpose of the 12 Guilds assigned to the City.  Time to reflect on the Peace Bridge was good.  Our accommodation at the Cavan Cristal Hotel was the best I have known in all my guiding years.  The food was just too good to leave anything on your plate!

I think the highlight of the tour was the day trip to the Ulster American Folk Park at Omagh, County Tyrone.  The trail around the grounds is pretty compact and the story line is amazing.  You travel through the history of how many people from Ulster left and settled all over the USA.  To see the immigrants first steps on American soil and witness the different variety of foods, experience the skills of working with timber and hunting for food was so interesting.  My mind was on the fact that they were free from landlords, rent, taxes etc but surrounded by wild animals!

These tours are memories etched in my mind for life.  Thanks ladies for your company, chat, wise cracks, laughter and music.

 

For a weekend every year farmers in Northern Ireland open their farms for visitors to come and see what they produce and how.  This is a wonderful opportunity for city folk and school children to witness where milk comes from, how sheep are shorn, where meat is produced and how apple cider is produced and more.  I took time to visit two of County Armagh's top cider makers, Carson's cider and Long Meadow. We had a tour around the farm in tractor and trailer,  a talk about how cider is produced, a treasure hunt in the orchard, samples of cider & juices and many varied activities for the children. County Armagh has approximately 10 top craft cider makers producing a produce with a wide variety of textures recognised throughout Ireland, UK & Europe.  It is recommended that to enjoy a good meal you should also compliment it with a suitable cider blend - Armagh's answer to a good wine!

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