Northern Ireland

fond memories from long ago

By Henk and Jeanine Hoogstraten

The recent virtual tour to Northern Ireland was the reason we dove into our archive. Sure enough, we found the detailed schedule of an earlier memorable trip to Northern Ireland.

To our surprise, it turned out to be dated in 2004! No wonder the list of participants evoked nostalgic reflections. Fourty-four National Trust supporters from Belgium, all those familiar names from 17 years ago!

We went via Dublin Airport, where a coach picked us up for a 4-day tour of ‘the Province’, staying 3 nights at the Glenavon House Hotel in Cookstown.

In 2004, more regular party politics had replaced the “troubles” and the people of Northern Ireland longed for lasting peace. So, it was high time to go there and have a look “behind the Scenes of the National Trust of Northern Ireland”.

Organizer Albert Mok had carefully selected the most beautiful NT properties and landscapes. The special feature was a drive along the north coast where the NT owns entire coastlines.

On arrival day we visited Castle Ward in Strangford, with breathtaking views of Strangford Lough, Rowallane Garden, the seat of the NT for Northern Ireland, and Patterson’s Spade Mill in Templepatrick.

The following days we explored the Southwest (Castle Cool, Florence Court House, The Argory) and the North Coast (Downhill Estate, the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede, Springhill House).

We then spend half a day (until departure for Dublin that late afternoon) at Mount Stewart, one of the most grandiose houses in the UK. It is located on the Ards peninsula between Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea. Because of the subtropical Gulf Stream in the Irish Sea, this region benefits from a favorable climate.

We have fond memories of that trip.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos to share because at that time we traveled with an analog camera and slide film.

If you happen to have photos of that trip that can be scanned, we would very much like to receive a copy. Maybe someone has a group picture available?

Group picture at Mount Stewart, 2004 – from Nelly’s photo album – photographer unknown

Participants in the NTAB trip to Northern Ireland in 2004:

Barbara Blackwell, David and Elisabeth Buckley, Monique Cherquefosse, Nelly De Clercq, Fransinne Defruyt, Bob and Monique De Ridder, Carole Ducastel, Simone Herlin, Cecilia Hill, Karin Höpp, Henk and Jeanine Hoogstraten, Miek Huurman, Monique Jansseune, Helena Lammens, Anne Limpens, Paul and Nanette Massin, Freddy and Patricia Meulenbrouck, Albert Mok, Roland and Rosemie Nierinck, Max and Evelyne Osterrieth, Els Termont, Fran Van Braekel, Frans and Jeanine Vandenbroeck, Tom Van Heuverswyn, Jack Van Sprang, Baudouin Van Schoote, Maurice and Christel Vonckx, Roland and Martine Walckiers, Catriona White.

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One response to “Northern Ireland”

  1. Hello Henk & Jeanine ,

    It was a remarkable trip !
    So many great memories, the two faces of castle Ward, the schoolboys singing “last night I had the strangest dream“ at Florence Court, the wind that almost blew us off the cliffs at Downhill Estate, the incredible Giant‘s Causeway and the gardens, oh, the stunning gardens at Mount Stewart etc etc.
    And in good spirits !

    I have pictures in an album but can send you the negatives if that would be of any help. Otherwise it’s like the group picture that I emailed you … a photo of a photo !

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