2021 Highlights

New Programme for 2021

To uncover the history of this place, our extensive programme of tours throughout the week will take you through rolling countryside to sites of international renown from the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle on County Antrim’s wild Atlantic coast to the famous and historic Walls of Derry and a visit to Dublin City.

You will also visit one of the best preserved medieval structures in all of Ireland at Carrickfergus and journey through the heart of County Down walking in the footsteps of Ireland's patron saint and visiting Hillsborough Castle,  the official Northern Ireland palace of the Royal Family!

Our 2021 June programme will see delegates:

 Journey into the heart of County Down

During your time with us you will be able to journey through Early Christian and Medieval Ireland. Delegates will walk in the footsteps of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland by visiting the town named after him. Learn about Patrick's legacy and strong connection with this area at the St Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick and the reported burial site of Patrick at Down Cathedral. This trip will also afford delegates the opportunity to visit the 12th Century Cistercian Abbey at Inch which in its more modern history has also been used as a filming location for HBO's Game of Thrones.

You will also be afforded the opportunity  to have a guided tour of Hillsborough Castle,  the official Northern Ireland residence and palace of the Royal Family. Explore the history of this elegant and intriguing Georgian house which has witnessed various pivotal moments in history for over three hundred years.


Take a trip through Belfast and south County Antrim

During your time with us you will be able to tour some of Belfast's most interesting visitor attractions including the historic Crumlin Road Gaol which was a fully operational prison for over 150 years. During those 150 years the Gaol housed murderers, suffragettes and loyalist and republican prisoners; witnessed births, deaths and marriages and was home to executions, escapes, hunger-strikes and riots.

Delegates will also travel through the rolling picturesque countryside of south County Antrim and visit the town of Carrickfergus, the gateway to the beautiful Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim and home to Ireland's oldest and best preserved Norman citadel, Carrickfergus Castle.


Tour the Churches, Castles and Causeways of Ireland

Along with visits to Hillsborough Castle, Carrickfergus Castle and Inch Abbey, delegates will also visit the iconic turreted ruins of Dunluce Castle, the inspiration of C.S. Lewis' Cair Paravel from the Chronicles of Narnia and the site of the House of Greyjoy from Game of Thrones.

Delegates will also experience the stark beauty of the Giant's Causeway a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was voted the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom, as well as being able to visit:

  • Down Cathedral, an ancient ecclesiastical site with a history stretching back to the 12th Century and reported burial site of Ireland's patron saint.
  • Killymoon Castle, described in the Irish Penny Journal of 1841 as "one of the most aristocratic residences in the province of Ulster".
  • Killyleagh Castle, the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland, with parts dating back to 1180.
  • Bonamargy Friary, a late-era Franciscan Friary which was originally established in 1485.
  • Mussenden Temple, an 18th Century private library which sits dramatically on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean.


Learn about the migration experiences of your ancestors and the history of migration to Ulster

For centuries migration has dominated and shaped Ulster’s history. This applies to both immigration and emigration – people arriving and people departing. The seventeenth century witnessed the arrival of thousands of families from Britain. By the late 1600s families from Ulster were beginning to travel westwards to North America.

On this trip you will visit many of the places that feature prominently in our migration story. These range from the ports of Belfast, Newry, Portrush and Derry to the Ulster-American Folk Park.

Delving even deeper into the past, we will visit Dungannon to learn about the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607, when two of Ulster's leading lords left the island for Continental Europe, never to return. As well as visiting sites such as Carrickfergus Castle, Killyleagh Castle and Killymoon Castle. These castles date back to the Norman invasion of Ireland and have an interesting story to tell in the history of migration within the British Isles.


Pre-conference essentials workshop, 07-09 June

Before Tracing your Irish Ancestors formally begins we are also offering an optional pre-conference essentials course (07-09 June). This course will see delegates undertake two and a half days of intensive learning, with practical demonstration using relevant websites and other electronic resources.

Not only will delegates learn more about all the major sources used in Irish and Scots-Irish family history research such as census, civil and church records, land records (including tithe books and Griffith’s Valuation), wills, newspapers and estate papers; they will also receive a one-on-one consultation with one of our research team to help shape their research aims for the week ahead.

Although not essential, this workshop will greatly benefit those of you wishing to spend the week of the conference researching in the archives.

This course will ensure that when you arrive at the archives on the Thursday, you will ‘hit the ground running’ in the search for your ancestors & be able to head upstairs to the search room with some of our research team and get started on your research straight away.

 For more information on what the course will cover please click here