The Ulster-Scots Society of the USA will be conducting a heritage tour over the Twelfth period this year. The centerpiece of the tour will be attendance at Twelfth events and parades in Co. Down, Belfast, and Scarva as well as a tour of the Boyne Battlefield plus the Ulster-American Folk Park, Walls of Londonderry, Carrickfergus Castle, traditional music and dance, meeting local Ulster-Scots heritage groups and also attending the Reiver Festival.Tour organiser Glen Pratt, from Texas, says this trip will differ from the typical holiday to Northern Ireland.
“We are planning a heritage tour that is focused on the Scots-Irish/Ulster-Scots culture and its connection to America. As far as I know, this is the first tour of this kind,” says Glen.
“This is a heritage tour specifically organised around Ulster-Scots history. It is made for us in mind. It is totally unique. It will be punctuated with lectures, cultural exhibitions, music, dance, traditional language, and contact with local Ulster-Scots heritage groups. Along the way, we will see some gorgeous countryside, have a chance to shop, relax, have some free time, and get a chance to know the beautiful land and wonderful people of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is so unique. You get both Scotland and Ireland together in one place.”
Genealogical research will also be an important aspect of the tour.
Pratt is communicating with the Ulster-Scots Agency and groups like the Schomberg Society in Kilkeel to organise presentations on a variety of Ulster-Scots topics that will give the group unique insights into Northern Ireland and its heritage. If you have a local Ulster-Scots heritage group that would like to meet with the tour, contact Glen Pratt.
The tour begins the first weekend in July with visits to sites in the Belfast area including a city tour, Carrickfergus Castle, the Andrew Jackson cottage, the murals, the Irish Linen Center, and other sites close by. The group will then move up the coast viewing the Glens of Antrim, Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery, Woodrow Wilson ancestral home, Gray’s Print Shop, and the Walls of Londonderry.
After travelling through Donegal, a full day is set aside for the Ulster-American Folk Park. The tour will then be based in the Mournes on the Co Down coast. Kilkeel’s Reivers Festival is to be a centerpiece of the tour. Here, the group will attend festival activities including a World War II big band dance in honor of the Americans, a special outdoor worship service, and the Eleventh Night street pageant and bonfire. They will also see local natural sites, historical re-enactors, the 17th-century clachan ‘Hanna’s Close’, and tour the Boyne Battlefield. The group will attend the Belfast Twelfth parade and the procession at Scarva. Full trip details are available at from the Ulster-Scots Society website.