Planning Portal

'Through The Keyhole At Historic Properties'

Published on Wed, 5 Sep 2001
Northern Ireland Celebrates European Heritage Open Days.
Would you like to see where the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland puts his feet up or find out what living in a 18th century Moravian settlement was like? Do you want to discover how modern people live in rural thatched cottages or stand in the dock at Crumlin Road Courthouse? Or do you simply want a ‘nosey’ behind the doors of a stately home?
European Heritage Open Days provide you with the chance to do just that. Organised by the DOE’s Environment and Heritage Service, 160 buildings throughout Northern Ireland will open to visitors free of charge for two days only on 8 and 9 September. Visit private houses, public buildings, gardens, churches, ancient monuments and ancestral piles. You can also join guided walks in historic towns and villages across Northern Ireland.
What’s more, Parliament Buildings will be open for the first time ever to the general public. And if your interest is in nuns or the Orange Order then why not visit Saint Mary’s Dominican Convent Belfast or Brownlow House Lurgan. Lord Dunleath will also through open the doors to his stately home, Ballywalter Park, which in addition to being a building of grandeur, has also hosted the films Divorcing Jack and Puckoon.
Mr Sam Foster MLA, Minister of the Environment, in launching the Open Days at Lord Dunleath’s stately home said:
"The European Heritage Open Days this weekend will give us the chance to stop, observe and enjoy our built heritage. The number of people who take up this unique opportunity year after year with such enthusiasm shows just how popular the ‘open doors’ concept is. It also demonstrates a growing awareness of the contribution that fine buildings make to the quality of our environment.
"The two open days are for everybody, young and old, individuals or organised groups. If you participated last year, you will know already that the weekend offers a unique opportunity to visit behind doors that are frequently closed – if you’re joining in for the first time, there is sure to be a building to interest and surprise you".
Free brochures with full details of buildings, including short descriptions and directions, are available from libraries and Tourist Information Centres throughout Northern Ireland and details can also be found on Opens link in a new browser window . Pick one up and plan a busy weekend!
For more information please contact
Paula Kernohan
telephone: 028 9054 3078
fax: 028 9054 3076

Notes to Editors

European Heritage Open Days are on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September and involves 160 buildings throughout Northern Ireland.
Minister of the Environment Mr Sam Foster MLA, will launch European Heritage Open Days on Wednesday 5 September at 11.15am at Lord Dunleath’s stately home Ballywalter Park.
  • Ballywalter Park is a Mansion House built in the 1830s in the Italianate Palazzo style and is attributed to Charles Lanyon, one of the leading architects of the time. It is set in a landscaped estate south of Ballywalter village. The importance of the building is reflected in its statutory listing, at Grade A. The house has recently undergone a yearlong programme of external and internal renovations, thus ensuring its survival as one of the most important houses in Northern Ireland’s history.
  • Ballywalter Park has been used as a location setting for two films – in ‘Divorcing Jack’ it was used as the Prime Minister's residence, and the Library was featured. The most recent location shoot was for a film based upon Spike Milligan’s book ‘Puckoon’, where the Billiard Room was featured.

Photo Ops

  1. Billiard Room – recently used in a scene for Puckoon – Sam Foster with Lord Dunleath playing billiards
  2. Library – used in Divorcing Jack – Sam Foster with Lord Dunleath in front of fire place
  3. Central Staircase – forms centre of Ballywalter Park house – Sam Foster, Lord Dunleath and local school children from Ballywalter Primary School
  4. Exterior of Ballywalter Park – Sam Foster with local school children working on a ‘historical trail’ based on the house.
  5. ‘European Heritage Open Days’ is a Council of Europe initiative, celebrated annually in over 45 counties.
For directions: take the main B5 road from Greyabbey towards Ballywalter. Enter Ballywater Park via the Ballyatwood Gatelodge (i.e. western approach to the Ballywalter Estate).
For further media information please contact Philip Maguire DOE Press Office telephone 028 9054 0013.
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