Doors to open on local history and heritage during free weekend

People are being invited to look at the local museum artifacts currently held in storage.
People are being invited to look at the local museum artifacts currently held in storage.

Dozens of historical and heritage venues across the north west will be participating in European-wide ‘Open Days’ initiative next month.

Local history will be brought to life during the Open Days, which is one of the largest free events open to the public.

It takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 8 and 9 and will involve historic buildings and monuments opening their doors to the public, some of them for the first time.

Highlights include events on the City Walls and free walking tours over the weekend, with a ‘Behind the Scenes’ museum store tour on both days from 11am to 12 noon. The tour will take people to the local museum stores, which are usually closed to the public, to see the vast collection of items not currently on display. Those taking part will also learn how objects and archives are stored and cared for. Return bus transport from the Tower Museum to the museum stores (15 minute journey) will be provided. The bus leaves at 11am sharp and there is no need to book in advance seats will be allocated on a first come basis.

Also included are St. Eugene’s Cathedral, St. Columb’s Cathedral and First Derry Presbyterian Church, Tower Museum, Aras Cholmcille/St. Columba Heritage Centre at Long Tower, The Playhouse, Museum of Free Derry, Visit Derry, Inner City Trust on Shipquay Street and the Freemanson’s Hall on Bishop Street. There will be tours of the Guildhall and Harbour House and the Foyle River Gardens in Culmore, while at Creggan Country Park there will be Heritage tour and bug hunts, as well as ‘The Park After Dark - explore the amazing world of bats.’

Dungiven Castle, the Martello Tower, Limavady Orange Heritage Centre, Downhill Demesne & Hazlett House will open to the public, as will Grays Printing Press, Sion Stables and Woodrow Wilson’s ancestral homestead in Strabane.

Director of Historic Environment Division at the Department for Communities, Iain Greenway said: “Our aim is to help communities to underst and and realise the value of our historic environment. European Heritage Open Days are a key opportunity for everyone to do this, whether by visiting a new place or taking part in a new activity.”

Brochures are available at local tourist information centres, libraries or to download at: discovernorthernireland.com/ehod Whilst all events are free some require pre-booking. To avoid disappointment check out www.discovernorthernireland.com/ehod or @ehodni on Twitter.