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Excursions

Monks and Warlords: Medieval Sites in the West of Northern Ireland

Tuesday 29 August, 9:00 - 18:30

Leader: Colm Donnelly, Queen’s University Belfast
Meeting point: Front gates of the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast
Price: 50 EUR

Our daytrip to the west of Northern Ireland will involve visits to Medieval monuments located in County Tyrone and County Fermanagh. The fourth biggest lake system in Ireland, Lough Erne in County Fermanagh has more than 150 islands, with a number of these selected for the location of monasteries during the Early Medieval period, most notably Devenish Island. Founded in the 6th century AD, this monastery continued in use through to the 17th century when it was abandoned. Travelling by boat we will visit the island to see the architectural remains associated with this long use, including a Romanesque church, a fine 12th century round tower, and the ruined 15th century Augustinian priory. We will then make our way to Enniskillen, Fermanagh’s main town, and visit its castle, founded on an island by the Maguires (Mac Uidhir) lords, the Medieval Gaelic rulers of the region, and transformed in the 18th century into a British Army barracks and home of the famous regiments, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoons, both founded in the late 17th century. We will then travel to Tullaghoge in County Tyrone to visit the royal inauguration site associated with the O’Neill (Ó Néill) lordship, the most powerful lineage in Medieval Ulster and a major centre of their political rule throughout the region. A morning coffee and lunch are included.


Devenish Island, Co. Fermanagh (Courtesy of Tourism Ireland)

Ireland’s Ancient East – Passage tombs, Rock Art and the Heart of Neolithic Ireland

Tuesday 29 August, 8:00 - 19:00

Leader: Will Megarry, Queen’s University Belfast
Meeting point: Front gates of the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast
Price: 50 EUR

This one-day tour with explore Neolithic Ireland, taking participants to the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East and visiting the Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne in County Meath. A UNESCO World Heritage property known nationally as Brú na Bóinne or ‘palace of the Boyne’, the landscape has been occupied for over 6000 years. Its three great tumuli (Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth) represent the finest expression of the passage tomb tradition and also host the largest and most important expression of prehistoric rock art in Europe. We will visit the National Museum of Archaeology in Dublin in the morning for a tour of prehistoric artefacts. In the afternoon, participants will travel to the site where they will have an opportunity to visit the visitor centre, enter the chamber at Newgrange and experience its incredible lighting effects, and then also visit the tomb at Knowth and its amazing rock art panels. Lunch is not included.


Newgrange, Co. Meath (Courtesy of the National Monuments Service)

Belfast City Cemetery

Tuesday 29 August, 14:00 - 16:00

Leader: Tom Hartley, Local Historian
Meeting point: Belfast City Cemetery, 511 Falls Road, BT12 6DE
Price: free

Dating back to the 1860s, Belfast City Cemetery is one of the oldest public cemeteries in the city. The garden cemetery contains the graves of many influential figures from the 19th-century in addition to war graves and a poor ground where over 80,000 souls lie in unmarked graves. It also holds a unique underground wall, which was built in Victorian times to separate Protestant and Catholic graves and is a tangible legacy of sectarianism. One of the most visually striking and historically significant monuments in the cemetery, are the Central Steps which were built in 1867. The steps contain a number of vaults within which lie the remains of families who dominated life in 19th-century Belfast, such as Edward Harland (Harland and Wolff) and Thomas Gallaher (Gallaher Tobacco). The tour will also include a visit to the new heritage centre (opened 2022). This tour is sponsored by Belfast City Council.


Belfast City Cemetery (Courtesy of Eileen Murphy)

Belfast Pubs

Tuesday 29 August, 20:00 - 23:00

Leader:
Meeting point: Albert Memorial Clock, 17 Queen’s Square, Belfast 
Price: 50 EUR

Belfast hosts some fantastic traditional pubs with some excellent Irish Music. Get into the heart and soul of Belfast and experience it all on our Traditional Irish Pub Crawl, showing off the City, its sights, and sounds, with some interesting stories along the way.

On our 3.5 hour guided tour, we will take you around the city centre visiting some of the best pubs Belfast has to offer. We will visit pubs full of character that date back 100s of years with a blend of modern pubs as well. Your tour guide will take you down some of Belfast’s most beautiful streets and alleys to find some hidden gems while telling some interesting stories along the way.

The pub crawl will begin at 8pm at the Albert Clock. You will visit 5 great pubs and spend approximately 30 – 45 minutes in each pub. You will receive a half pint of beer in each pub with 2 pubs also offering an additional glass of Whiskey / Irish Cream. Your tour guide will leave you into the last pub sometime between 11pm – 11.30pm.

 


Kelly's Cellar Bar, Belfast (Courtesy of Tourism NI)

Murals, Memory, and Belfast’s Past

Wednesday 30 August, 9:15 - 13:00

Leader: Paul Mullan, National Lottery Heritage Fund
Meeting point: Front gates of Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square North
Price: 8 EUR

This morning tour will be a trip into Belfast’s recent and older past. We will meet two significant community activists who will be able to outline some of the past and recent challenges that their communities have faced. We will look at how the story of that past is told by both communities through their memorials and murals. We will finish at Cultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich on the Falls Road with coffee and conversation.


Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden (Courtesy of Paul Mullan)

Castles, Giants and Whiskey: the Causeway Coast

Wednesday 30 August, 9:30  - 11:30

Leader: Colin Breen, Ulster University
Meeting point: Front gates of the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast
Price: 45 EUR

This one-day tour will introduce participants to the stunning north coast of Northern Ireland, one of the most dramatic and scenic routes in these islands. We will visit the World Heritage Site at the Giant’s Causeway and investigate this extraordinary volcanic landscape and how it has influenced folklore and memory between Scotland and Ireland. The tour will also stop at the iconic medieval castles of Dunluce and Dunseverick where issues of identity, belonging and heritage management will be discussed. At both sites the archaeological directors will be available to provide an overview of the exciting results of their recent excavations and how these are reshaping our understanding of the region’s past. Finally, the tour will stop at Bushmills, Northern Ireland’s second oldest whiskey distillery (as we will discover), where you will get a chance to sample this world-famous drink. Participants will then return to Belfast in time for the conference opening reception at 17:30. Every year in excess of 1.2 million tourists follow this route and the tour will discuss cultural heritage in the context of the challenges Northern Ireland faces in terms of economy and its slow emergence from decades of violent conflict. Lunch is included.


Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim (Courtesy of Lindsey Cowley)

Belfast Through the Ages: A Walking Tour

Wednesday 30 August, 13:30 - 17:30

Leader: Ruairí Ó Baoill, Queen’s University Belfast
Meeting point: Front gates of Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square North
Price: 30 EUR

Modern Belfast is mostly the result of expansion that took place in last 200 years. The city is ringed on both sides of Belfast Lough with beautiful mountain ranges, and these contain archaeological sites dating back to the Mesolithic period, some 10,000 years ago. What is less well-known, however, is that an exciting hidden history that spans 800 years back to the settlement established by the Anglo-Normans lies below the streets of the modern city and archaeologists have been exploring this hidden history for decades. Because Belfast developed into a thriving industrial and manufacturing powerhouse in the Victorian period, and with constant rebuilding in the city’s historic core, the oldest surviving building in the city centre only dates to the 1770s. Therefore, archaeological excavations in Belfast, and the publication of the information from those excavations, are crucial to understanding the development of Belfast and the story of the people who lived in it. This tour will bring to life the archaeology and history of Belfast and will explain the fascinating urban history underneath the city that we see today. The tour will stop for refreshments at two of the oldest pubs in Belfast – McHugh’s Bar and Kelly’s Cellars – before ending at the ICC in time for the conference’s Opening Reception.


Ground plan of Belfast 1685 (By Thomas Phillips - The British Library public domain)

Kings, Clerics and Myth: 6,000 years of ritual and power at Ireland's ‘Royal’ Sites

Sunday 3 September, 8:00 - 18:30

Leader: Paddy Gleeson, Queen’s University Belfast
Meeting point: Front gates of the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast
Price: 45 EUR

The ‘royal’ sites of Ireland constitute some of the most iconic and complex archaeological landscapes on the island of Ireland. This group of six sites are famed in early Irish literature, as the capitals of ancient provinces, and centres of kingship and ritual that have endured through centuries, but were long since grass-grown and abandoned during the medieval era. This status as regional capitals, alongside the spectacular monumental structures, shared iconography and Iron Age apogee, has seen three sites nominated as a group for UNESCO World Heritage Status through addition to the Tentative List. Archaeological analysis has transformed our understanding of these complexes and their landscape context in recent decades, demonstrating a complex evolution during the later prehistoric and medieval periods. Now, the ritual, ceremonial and collective role of the complexes is well appreciated, as is the growing evidence for medieval importance and investment. This tour will explore some of the best known and most intensively studied of Ireland’s ‘royal sites’, including Navan Fort and the Hill of Tara. Navan Fort represents the focal point of a landscape that also includes the Late Bronze Age hillfort of Haughey’s Fort, and the artificial votive pool of the King’s Stables, in a landscape fabled as the capital of Ulster and venue for the deeds of great heroes like CúChulainn. The Hill of Tara is famously associated with the kingship of Ireland, and represented a symbol of Irish identity and kingship since at least the seventh century AD. In this trip we will explore some of the recent discoveries from geophysical survey and excavation, and the role that these are playing in transforming our understanding of the complex structures and long-term evolution of these iconic centres of ritual, ceremony and kingship. Lunch will be included.


Navan Fort, Co. Armagh (Courtesy of Dr Paddy Gleeson)

Looking after the Ancestors: a Henge, a Temple and a Cemetery

Sunday 3 September, 8:00 - 18:30

Leader: Barrie Hartwell, Queen’s University Belfast
Meeting point: Elmwood Building, Elmwood Avenue, Queen’s University Belfast
Price: 22 EUR

The Giant’s Ring is one of the finest surviving Neolithic henge monuments in Ireland and is situated on a plateau above the River Lagan in Ballynahatty – just 6 km from Belfast. Near its centre is a small passage tomb, all that remains of a once extensive passage grave cemetery. The cropmarks of over 40 ring ditches, avenues and enclosures have been identified in the adjacent fields and historical accounts record many more sites, including cists, and ‘cart loads of human bones’ being removed. Overlooking the Giant’s Ring, Ballynahatty 5/6 – an elaborate Late Neolithic timber enclosure, was excavated for a decade during the 1990s and is interpreted as an excarnation site. Movement was carefully choreographed within this site and there is evidence of further control to promote specific routes and approaches across this enigmatic ceremonial landscape. The tour starts with a short talk in the Elmwood Building before the site visit.


Giant's Ring, Co. Down (Courtesy of David Craig)

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