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Walk into history at this year’s European Heritage Open Days

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Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has invited everyone in the Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle areas to enjoy the European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) Weekend on 12 and 13 September.

History and culture will be brought to life with 34 historic properties and events opening across the North East areas. With all events free of charge and many which are family friendly, everyone can take the opportunity to step back in time.

Mark H Durkan said: “EHOD, now in its milestone 18th year, offers a unique “peek” through many of our historic buildings. After a record 75,000 people enjoying all that was on offer last year, this year’s offering is more varied than ever. There are over 400 properties and events across the North reflecting the depth and diversity of our built heritage.

“Established favourites like Dunluce Castle, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Gracehill Old School will again feature alongside living history events and walking tours which will bring heritage alive for visitors. Enjoy traditional music and freshly baked soda bread at Arthur Cottage and Intrepretative Centre or learn about the traditional craft of hurley making at Scullion Hurls Economusee.

“Young or old, on your doorstep or further afield there is something for you. I urge everyone to join in this year and take advantage of this unique opportunity to celebrate our heritage. Whilst all events are free there are some that require pre booking and a few that have already reached capacity so check out Discover Northern Ireland websiteexternal link and plan your EHOD activity now.”

Arthur Cottage and Interpretative Centre in Cullybackey has been part of European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) for many years and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is pleased to again open its doors this year. Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase one part of the culture and heritage available in the Borough.

“Everyone is welcome to come along and listen to the story of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st President of the USA and his road to the presidency and taste freshly baked soda bread and pancakes from the griddle – the way it used to be – at the same time.

“I would also like to thank the Department of Environment for organising this event on an annual basis and look forward to getting involved with EHOD in future years.”

New for EHOD for the North East area this year is a tour of Steensons Jewellery Workshop offering the chance to see how the ancient craft of jewellery has merged traditional techniques with new technology. Don your best finery for a wedding festival at Billy Church in Bushmills. Celebrating its 200th birthday, dresses old and new and other wedding items and floral arrangements will be on display. Whilst you are in the party mood then step back in time to the world of bustling dance halls with old time dances and live music at the Box in Portstewart.

If you want to travel further afield there are a host of events going on throughout the North. Enjoy tours of Derry’s shirt factories or Linenopolis, Belfast’s linen quarter; try hand weaving; or taste freshly fried eel and soda bread at the North’s oldest thatched pub in Toomebridge.

Concluding, Minister Durkan added: “EHOD showcases the excellent contribution our built and cultural heritage makes to our environment and economy. I thank all of the owners and guardians of properties who open their doors and to those other volunteers who give up their time to lead tours and host events. Without their enthusiasm and generosity this weekend event would not be possible.”

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