COVID-SAFE - Affordable and fun guiding throughout Northern Ireland
PLEASE NOTE - Most (but not all!) tours are currently suspended due to Covid Restrictions

WWell I disappeared off to discover another island around the UK coastline - SHETLAND last week.  Soft rolling hills with acres of blanket bog, fields of sheep, wooly Shetland knitwear, Viking names and top of all lovely friendly people.  I know it is not everyone's cup of tea but my desire to see another island took me here.  Enjoyed the flora and fauna, the wildlife, the uninterrupted bird song..............not so sure of the long daylight hours!  Enjoyed exploring the headlands and the Viking settlement at Jarshof.

Walked the pavements of Armagh City yesterday with a lovely couple keen to learn a lot about what the City and it's County would have been like when their ancestors left these lands for the USA in mid 1800's.  Mixed emotions as the politics of the land unfolded and visits to the cathedrals provided solace and understanding. 

Genealogy is certainly a "labour of love" but a beautiful way to find where you came from!  Don't leave it too late to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors.  Don't wait until you have all the research done back in your home today...........come, walk and talk and get a better understanding of the land they left before you delve into endless paperwork.

These old homesteads and disappearing fast!




Well what a year it has been for Hawthorn bloom!  The hedgerows are awash with this white blossom - is this a good omen!  Caught this picture today however most of the blossom has been out for a while and most of the bossom is now blowing in the wind like confetti.

You may know The Hawthorn by a different name, The May Tree, The Beltaine Tree, The May Blossom, The Whitethorn, The Quick and more.  In Irish it is Sceach Gael but we also know it as the Faerie Tree for it is said to guard the entrance to the faerie realm and it is still considered bad luck to harm one.

Many superstitions surround the Hawthorn:-

During birth if a calf is born prematurely hanging its afterbirth on a Hawthorn tree was said to magically protect it and give it quick growth (one of the other names given to the Hawthorn is Quickset as it will take very easily as a cutting).

The Hawthorn has long been associated with fertility and at Beltaine (May 1st) young women would take a sprig of blossom and keep it close as a way of attracting a husband.

The Hawthorn is also known as a tree of protection and for this reason it will be found growing near a house.  It will offer protection from storm and lightning.

Using the blossoms for decorations outside was allowed, but there is a very strong taboo against bring hawthorn into the house.  Across Ireland there still is the belief today that bringing hawthorn blossom into the house would be followed by illness and death.

Today I took a drive over to the South East coast of Northern Ireland to see the fishing boats in Kilkeel harbour.  Not the best day weather wise but sure that's how it is in Northern Ireland!  Kilkeel is situated in the heart of the ancient Kingdom of the Mournes on the South East coast of County Down. Known to all as the Capital of the Kingdom.  It takes its name from the old 13th century church ruins in the centre of the town cill-caol (Gaelic) meaning the church of the narrows. 

It is renowned for its thriving fishing industry which can be experienced with a visit down to the harbour.  If you go during the week you will certainly have the opportunity to buy the best king prawns in Ireland! 

no day out in Ireland would be complete without a cup of tea!  Stopped here yesterday in Belfast with my American visitors and they truly enjoyed the vast range of teas, coffee and large fresh scones. S.D. Bell is Ireland's oldest independent tea importer and coffee rooster. www.sdbellsteacoffee.com


What an amazing display of animals, machinery, food & drink!  Great day out here on Thursday, met old friends, chatted to visitors, eat my way around the food stalls and took time out to people watch and smile along the way.  Took lots of pictures but thought these three are the most realistic images of what most people from Ireland still eat and drink daily.

Passed by this derelict lime kiln the other day and it got me thinking about their past purpose.  Now to share my findings with you all.

Lime kiln across the country basically followed the same design consisting of an egg shaped chamber 3 to 7 metres in diameter, with a hole at the bottom allowing access of air for combustion and the removal of the quick lime, this was constructed of bricks inside a square stone tower the height of which varied and may have been between 4 and 8 metres high. 

Well Monday 1 May is one of the official 4 Bank Holidays we have and this got me wondering who, what, when and where did all this come from?

A little bit of research tells me that before 1871 the UK & Ireland had 33 religious days on which Banks closed!  The passing of an Act in 1871 changed all that and left us with 4 official Bank Holidays for England, Wales & Ireland and 5 for Scotland (New Year's Day).

Walking through the streets of Belfast today we have one very well known building called "The Bank Buildings" or Primark so have attached an interesting article on the history of this building in Belfast.






Discovering the new and review the old Belfast City - the capital of Northern Ireland.  New up-to-date Guided Walks of Belfast ready for all to enjoy.  A trail through the cobble streets of Belfast's Industrial past and into the fresh new pathways along the River Lagan.  New vibrant cafe's by the waterfront to explore and enjoy top quality local produce in the restaurants and bars along the way.  Plenty of  Ulster craic and Belfast banter as always.  For a walk in the footsteps of Belfast's past and into it's present take one of our local Tourist Guides along and miss nothing along the way.


Excited to see the pink hews of blossom on the rolling hills of County Armagh.  Early May is a great date in the calendar for the start of the production of the well loved Armagh Bramley Apple.  Why not enjoy a personal tour of this beautiful seasonal landscape, admire its many castles and enjoy good food while sampling the many varieties of local craft ciders.

What an amazing day I have had with two beautiful people from Minnesota.  We travelled the lanes around the Upper Bann river, walked the land and discussed the life and history of the Plantation in County Armagh and the follow on of the renowned linen industry in Portadown/Gilford.  I so love Genealogy Tours. Sorry no pictures only amazing mental images of life on the banks of Lower Bann in the 17th century leading on to the 19th century linen production.  Great day.


After a pretty hectic week of guiding/touring it was just a wonderful feeling to finish off with a stop in at the www.corrymeela.org to learn about the great work going on here.  The views out over to Rathlin Island are amazing.  What a retreat!


Simply love this building.  A hidden gem which has so much to offer - not just a large selection of books, artifacts, exhibitions, historical data etc.  A must for any tourist/visitor - they also have a great café with fresh food daily. www.linenhall.com

I regularly include a visit to this beautiful building and it's collection in my Walking Tours of Belfast and the visitors just love it.



Touring in Derry City over the weekend.  The stained glass windows in the Guild Hall are a real picture book of the history of this amazing City.


All to often we do not look up above the shop windows and catch the beauty of Belfast architecture.  Yesterday in the sunshine Belfast's architecture looked stunning.  This is a picture of Belfast City Hall from the Donegal Square West side with the old Anderson & McCauley building in the background.



Well it is officially Spring in Ireland and I have taken today away from the desk to help on the farm with lambing. 
Some surprises though - this lady above has just given birth to three beautiful Suffolk lambs!!!  I think she must have jumped over the hedge to the boy next door!
Certainly "the black sheep" of the flock!  Doesn't she look a bit guilty?  Barbara



2017 season includes researching and putting our guiding knowledge to good use and building up our own unique and varied portfolio of "social" entertainment/tours/facilities. 
Interesting and exciting new venues; food and professional entertainment all NEW in the world of tourism. The vibrancy and enthusiasm of the people of Northern Ireland is just waiting for you to visit. Over the weekend we had a special showing from a group of up and coming performers and they were amazing. Great time was had by all................craft beers & spirits to sample, good music, poetry, dancing was enjoyed by all!

Yesterday for me was a busy day and unfortunately I didn't get the chance to put my pancake skills to work.  I do however have some very fond memories of growing up on a small farm part of a large family and the buzz of teatime with hot off the pan pancakes the meal of the day.

 Do you know where to find all 10 Game of Throne doors?  These doors were all made out of the timber from fallen trees at The Dark Hedges.  Why not travel with us and visit the film sites for Game of Thrones throughout Northern Ireland.


Contact Us

Barbara Ferguson
Accredited Blue Badge Tourist Guide
Northern Ireland Guided Tours
41 Coolmillish Road
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

Whispers Audio System Available for up to 30 People