Senators Come on Down
to County Down in Northern Ireland for a weekend of fun, fellowship, food and various types of spirits!
The weekend begins Thursday 12th September in the evening with a buffet and some cheese tasting with appropriate alcohol. Our evening venue for the weekend stands at the historic heart of old Belfast, when it was built the foundation stone was laid by Sir Charles Lanyon renowned architect. Based on 3 floors (there is a lift) we will have a tour of the building and host our AGM and dinners here as well. With a private bar I’ll be asking for your favourite tipples so they can stock up.
It was refurbished in 2007 and contains an artwork by John Luke who is a celebrated Belfast artist. I look forward to welcoming all of you to Freemasons Hall Belfast.
Friday 13th September
We head by coach to the beautiful Ards Pennisula, county Down for either a morning of traditional baking on a griddle. Guests will be greeted with tea/coffee and some traditional home bakes and then the demonstration with the opportunity to make some of these breads yourself. There is a maximum of 30 people so please book early.
The other option in the morning is a visit to one of the most beautiful gardens in Northern Ireland – Rowallane Gardens a National Trust property which has grown since 19th century when it started as a garden of the Reverend John Moore. It has a mix of informal and formal spaces and hosts unique plants from around the world. There is a café onsite for refreshments.
We head in the afternoon to the first distillery licensed in Northern Ireland for 125 years. Echlinville is a farm distillery truly producing spirit from field to glass. Echlinville Estate was founded in 1730 by the Echlin Family, a prominent family in that time. We will have a tour of the distillery and hear the story behind the whiskey, gin, vodka and poitin after which we will partake of afternoon tea in the ballroom. Expect a gin theme.
Returning to Belfast we will have our AGM followed by a cocktail and mocktail demonstration and tasting of course, with a buffet including desserts.
Saturday 14th September will take us to Downpatrick where we will be greeted at St Patricks centre by our guides who are authorities on the life of St Patrick, see the IMAX and thenhead to the first church at Saul and back to the Medieval Cathedral for a brief tour and then see Saint Patrick’s Grave.
Afterwards (with a lunch stop provided) we will head to Castle Ward, another National Trust property built in 18th century and famed for its mixture of classical styles. We have a 45 minute guided tour of the property. The garden walks take you to the shore of Strangford Lough and you have the option to visit the Game of Thrones set as Castle Wards historic farmyard is Winterfell.
We round up the weekend on Sunday with a senate breakfast in the form of an Ulster Fry and steak.
The recommended hotel for the weekend is Jurys which is 9 minutes walk to the evening venue. I recommend that people book a hotel and flight package as that way you should get the hotels cheaper.
Getting to NI
Flights come into George Best Airport (BHD) (recommended) and Belfast Internal Airport (BFS).
Ferries will come into both Larne and Belfast (Belfast is better though Larne is not that far away)
I look forward to seeing you all here for a weekend where I am sure the Craic will be mighty.