Around thirty members of the Society travelled to County Tyrone on 20th May for our annual Big Day Out. Our first stop was the delightful privately owned Killymoon Castle near Cookstown. Dating from 1671 the castle was destroyed by fire before being rebuilt in 1803 to the design of the famous London architect John Nash. The estate was owned by a succession of James and William Stewarts until 1852.
The estate then changed hands a few times and is now being looked after by Godfrey and Dorothy Coulter whose passion and determination in restarting the building is evident in the rooms that we were shown. A small group of friends help Dorothy source furnishings from auction rooms and she is hands on when it comes to painting and decorating. A tea room is open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Guided tours for small groups can be booked in advance, but the house is not open to the public just yet.
A very impressive Drawing Room, beautifully bright with four huge mirrors in the corners, was the venue for a short introductory talk on the history of the house and family before we sat down to a delicious lunch in the Morning Room. The staircase hall was a highlight, a beautifully cantilevered example with two landings. We saw several bedrooms with before and after examples of conservation and the view from them of the Ballinderry river and ancient bridge is impossibly picturesque. An ideal spot for bed and breakfast!
Our second visit of the day was to the Beaghmore Stone Circles with lowering skies clearing after a heavy shower. Seven circles can be clearly seen at this site in the Sperrins and information boards give the background. The landscape is littered with monuments like these and the views are spectacular.
Thanks to Adrianne, Ronnie and Ian for all their hard work in organising another great day out, we’re looking forward already to next year!