Discover your stately side at Northern Ireland’s country houses

Hillborough Garden Festival.  INCT 28-732-CON

Hillborough Garden Festival. INCT 28-732-CON

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Summer has arrived and if you’re looking for a different or unusual way to spend a day with friends or family, then why not immerse yourself in the history and heritage of the many stately homes and country houses that are dotted all around Northern Ireland.

Tourism Northern Ireland is encouraging everyone to find out more about these beautiful homes and gardens and the upcoming summer holidays are the perfect excuse for a day out or short break.

Tourism NI’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley said: “Historic homes allow visitors to uncover interesting links to the past as well as explore lavish surroundings and stunning gardens and walking trails.

“A visit to a country house is a great way to spend a day with friends or family especially if you love to learn more about the history of the area or like to appreciate the stunning gardens that usually accompany these beautiful houses.”

Tourism NI has put together a list of homes that are available to visit all over Northern Ireland:

- The Argory in Co Armagh is a beautiful Irish gentry house surrounded by a 320 acre wooded riverside estate with grounds that include sweeping vistas, scenic walks and fascinating courtyard displays. The home was once owned by the MacGeough Bond family and has remained largely unchanged since 1900. Visitors can spend the day exploring the second hand book shop, adventure playground and Lady Ada’s award-winning tea room.

- If you are looking for a place to spend a whole day exploring beautiful surroundings then you should consider Mount Stewart House in Co Down, which is known for its inspiring and unusual garden as well as its fascinating heritage and history. The building has recently undergone a three year, £8million restoration project to bring the house back to its former glory and visitors can experience previously unopened rooms and hundreds of previously unseen items on display.

- Hillsborough Castle in Co Down was built in the 1770s by the first Marquis of Downshire and was later remodelled in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the Castle is used as the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland and has also been the home of the Secretary of State since the 1970s. The picturesque building boasts 98 acres of beautiful gardens which include ornamental grounds, peaceful woodland, meandering waterways and trimmed lawns.

- Visitors to Florence Court House in Co Fermanagh will find something for everyone at this warm and welcoming 18th century property which is the former home of the Earls of Enniskillen. The stunning property offers a peaceful setting with a dramatic backdrop of mountains and forests. There is a range of glorious walks, play areas as well as a charming walled garden to discover and lavish interiors and exquisite decorations. Florence Court House is also famed for its beautiful gardens and is the home of the Irish Yew which was discovered in 1760.

- Colebrooke Park in Co Fermanagh was the home of Viscount and Viscountess Brookeborough and one of the region’s most important and historic stately homes. This unique house is set in a lush 1,000 acre working estate and as it is only a short distance from the wonderful tranquillity of Lough Erne, it is the ideal setting for a family picnic.

- Once described as ‘one of the prettiest houses in Ulster’, Springhill House, Co Londonderry is a 17th century plantation home. The charming house offers visitors the chance to explore family portraits, furniture and decorative arts that bring to life the many generations of Lenox-Conynghams who lived there from 1680. The old laundry houses one of Springhill’s most popular attractions, the Costume Collection with some exceptionally fine 18th to 20th century pieces. Interestingly, Springhill has a beguiling spirit that captures the heart of every visitor. Described as ‘one of the prettiest houses in Ulster’, its welcoming charm reveals a family home with portraits, furniture and decorative arts that bring to life the many generations of Lenox-Conynghams who lived here from 1680. The old laundry houses one of Springhill’s most popular attractions, the Costume Collection with some exceptionally fine 18th to 20th century pieces.

For information log onto www.discovernorthernireland.com.