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Aran Inspired

Beaghmore Stone Circles

This intriguing mystery from the Stone or Early Bronze Age is located in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains at Beaghmore, which translates from the Irish as “moor of the birches”. Past visitors would advise you to bring a jacket – even in summer, as the site is almost always windy. The Beaghmore Stones rise proudly from the land in seven circular formations, alongside a dozen ancient cairns. They had lain under bog – undisturbed for thousands of years – until, in 1945, a group of local farmers unearthed them while cutting peat in a remote moorland area on the southern fringe of the Sperrin Mountains.

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Ulster American Folk Park

To fully experience Irish life as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, visit this extremely popular outdoor attraction. As soon as you enter, you’ll be immersed in this turbulent period of Irish history. You’ll see demonstrators dressed in period costumes and engaged in daily activities such as weaving, spinning and forging, or baking bread on peat fires. At the middle of the park sits an old whitewashed cottage, currently serving as a museum. This is the ancestral home of Thomas Mellon, born in 1813.

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Benburb Valley Park

Benburb Valley Park is situated on the River Blackwater near the pretty village of Benburb, in County Tyrone, close to the border with on the border between County Armagh. Set in a scenic gorge created by the Blackwater, the park offers wonderful countryside trails for walking and hiking. The entrance to the park is situated about 10km (7 miles) from the city of Armagh, and 10km ( 7 miles) from the town of Dungannon.

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Cornmill Heritage Centre

Located at the village of Coallisland, named for a time when the area prospered from extensive coal mining, this heritage and cultural centre is housed within a building that was once used as a corn mill. The mill was erected in 1907 and performed the daily functions of storage, milling and packaging the final product of processed corn until 1978, when it was closed and abandoned. In 1990, it was renovated and now houses exhibits that give testament to the growth of the town of Coalisland, as well as its people and events. Interpretative centres tell their story using audiovisual presentations, paintings and artifacts from the early Industrial Age. “The Coalisland Experience” chronicles the changes that took place as a result of industrialization using a variety of media.

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Gray’s Print Museum and Tea Rooms

In the town of Strabane, County Tyrone, Gray’s Printing Press Museum contains a creative display of hand printing presses and equipment dating back to the 19th century. Located just 45 minutes from the Ulster American Folk Park, the museum tells an interesting tale of many Irish Americans from of Ulster Scots descent who went into the burgeoning print industry, and its connections to the trade in Strabane. From the street, the building looks like a charming old-world coffee house, while it retains the sign "Gray, Printer" over door.

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Dun Uladh Cultural Heritage Centre

Located in Omagh, the main town of County Tyrone, the Dun Uladh (Doon Ull-ah) Cultural Heritage Centre was created to preserve and further the traditional Irish culture in 1995. Dun means fortress, and Uladh is the original Gaelic name for Ulster, the northern province of Ireland. The concept of the centre is to create a fortress for preserving Ireland's traditional music in the heart of Ulster. The centre serves as the headquarters of Comhaltas Ceiltori (Ko-wall-tuss Kyol-toe-ree), meaning the Society of the Musicians of Ireland. The organisation has been promoting traditional Irish music, dance and culture since 1951, and has over 500 branches worldwide, including many branches in the USA and Canada.

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Strabane is one of the larger towns in County Tyrone, rich in history and natural beauty. Its Irish name is a Straith Bhan, which translates into Fair River Valley, or White Strand. The town includes two castles that were built and occupied around strange circumstances. Ogilby’s Castle was intended as the home of James Ogilby, but he decided to forego the family fortune for love of a girl who worked at a local factory. The regal home, built in 1860, was never occupied by the couple, which eloped and moved away to Derry. Earl’s Gift Castle was begun in 1629 by Sir John Drummond in anticipation of his wedding to a French lady, but he died in a mishap at sea, and his wedding gift castle was never completed.

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Gortin Glen Forest Park

Located on the western fringe of the scenic Sperrin Mountains, the trees at Gortin Glen Forest Park were planted with the purpose of producing coniferous trees for lumber. The on site tree farm distinguishes Gortin Glen from other facilities of its kind. The park is one of a few in Ireland that maintains a drive through tour; a five mile long paved road through many breathtaking views. There are several stopping areas where tourists can relax, enjoy the scenery and take photographs. The walking trail is posted with explanations of various sites along the path. Picnic areas are scattered through the forest at various points, and there are footpaths that twist and turn, leading visitors to some surprisingly beautiful locations.

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Knockmany Forest

This forest includes a hilltop passage tomb, located deep in the forest north of Augher. It is topped by extraordinary decorated stones said to mark the grave of Queen Aine, who ruled during the second century. The stones are inscribed with megalithic designs that are considered among the finest from this period located in all of Ulster. To reach the tomb, visitors must climb a steep path 1-¼ miles long, that winds its way from the upper parking area. Below the hilltop monument, in another part of Knockmany Forest lies Ardushin Lough, which can be enjoyed to the fullest by following the 1-½ mile long lakeside path that proceeds through a striking group of mature Douglas Fir trees that are more than 80 years old.

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Wellbrook Beetling Mill

The last water-driven beetling mill to survive in Northern Ireland, the Wellbrook Beetling Mill is now a museum dedicated to preserving the old-fashioned linen making process. The term “beetling” refers to the often-noisy process of water-powered hammers pounding the linen cloth to give it a smooth finish. Located in a scenic wooded area near Cookstown and the Ballinderry River, the mill features guides in costume who conduct demonstrations of the workings of the mill and the actual making of linen. Built by a family named Black around 1760, the two-story structure once housed seven beetling engines. Two of these remain in working condition. The National Trust now owns the facility. The surrounding land is popular for nature walks and picnicking by the river. The original mill keeper’s house stands next door.

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