Hi everyone. I hope I find you all in the best of form this week as our Virtual Tour of Ireland travels into County Tyrone. Northern Ireland’s largest county boasts many ancient historical sites, the warmest of Ulster welcomes and the the beautiful Sperrin mountain range is never far away. So let’s start there….
County Tyrone Highlights
1. The Sperrin Mountains
The Sperrin Mountains take their name from the Irish Na Speiríní meaning “Spurs of Rock”. The range stretches from shores of Lough Neagh in the west to the south of County Derry. This is a truly idyllic landscape and National Geographic included the Sperrins in their Top 101 Scenic Drives in The World. Legend also has it that St.Patrick banished the last of the snakes from Ireland from a pool in Banagher Glen in the Sperrins!
2. Beaghmore Stone Circles
So as I said, County Tyrone boasts a wealth of ancient historical sites and none are more impressive than the Beaghmore stone circles and cairns. There are seven stone circles, ten stone rows and twelve cairns or burial mounds. It is thought that the site was a place of worship or social gathering. Hard to believe that these stones were arranged by our ancestors in these formations over 3000 years ago! They were discovered in the 1940s during turf cutting on the bog. Beaghmore also boasts the accolade of being one of the best dark sky areas in Ireland.
3. Gortin Glens Forest Park
We’re back in Sperrin territory again for a wander through Gortin Glens Forest park. About 10 miles north of the town of Omagh, this is walkers paradise with lush woodlands, waterfalls, lakes and a deer enclosure. There’s a five mile drive through the park and the views are outstanding.
4. Let The Dance Begin Sculpture
Our next stop takes us to the Tyrone/Donegal border, between the towns of Lifford and Strabane. This striking sculpture was designed by Maurice Harron to mark the new millennium. It symbolizes reconciliation and shared cultures between communities. The 5 bronze and stainless steel figures feature 2 dancers, poised to begin their dance, accompanied by a fife player, a fiddle player and a drummer.
5. Blessingbourne House
I think we deserve a little 5 star luxury so we will end our journey at the stunning Blessingbourne House. Near the charming village of Fivemiletown, it dates back to the 1870s. It is still a working farm where you can meet the animals, go mountain biking, fishing and explore the costume and carriage museum. Or maybe just kick back and enjoy the stunning surrounding countryside.
Time to sign off now. Do join me next week for a trip to County Fermanagh.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Slán go fóill!