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5 unique historic spots to explore in Northern Ireland this autumn

From Viking invasions to megalithic and monastic sites, Northern Ireland is filled with historical heritage that dates back some 5,000 years ago.

There are many sites and attractions for curious travellers to visit and immerse themselves in, so why not try ticking off some of these unique spots as part of a day trip or weekend away over autumn?

1. Grey Abbey, County Down

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Grey Abbey

Moments away from Strangford Lough in the quaint village of Greyabbey are the ruins of Grey Abbey, one of Ulster’s first gothic style buildings.

A special find amidst County Down’s beautiful landscape, the site was founded by Afreca, wife of Anglo Norman invader John De Courcy, in 1193 and remained open for parish worship until the 15th century.

Take in the historic charm of Grey Abbey as part of a wider visit to County Down.

2. Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House, Co Tyrone

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Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House (Mid Ulster Council)

Once a stronghold for Irish kings and clans, what remains of the Hill of O’Neill and Ranfurly House is well worth a look when passing through Dungannon.

Once you have enjoyed the impressive views from the site’s highest peak, wander inside the visitor centre below where you can visit a multi-media exhibition narrating the Hill’s importance in Irish and European history, its links to the O’Neill clan and the subsequent Flight of the Earls and Plantation of Ulster.

3. Devenish Island, Co Fermanagh

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Devenish Island

Located among Fermanagh’s Lakelands and the lower part of Lough Erne, Devenish Island is a unique and memorable spot to experience when visiting this part of Northern Ireland.

The site was once home to monastic communities until Vikings raided the area in 837AD.

Thankfully, some of the ruins left from monastic buildings still remain on the island for all to see, including Saint Molise church and a 12th century round tower.

The island can be accessed by ferry from Trory Point and has a museum located on it for those wanting to find out more about the island and its heritage.

4. Springhill House, Co Londonderry

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Springhill House

One of the few remaining 'Big Houses' in Ireland, Springhill in Moneymore has been described as one of Ulster’s prettiest houses.

Today, thanks to The National Trust, the building and its grounds are open to the public to explore as part of a tour, or by wandering around the site at your leisure.

5. Irish Linen Museum, Lisburn

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Irish Linen Museum

An important part of Ireland’s economic history, Lisburn's Irish Linen Museum details the thriving linen industry in Ireland in the 1800 – 1900s.

This includes the museum’s award-winning Flax to Fabric: The Story of Irish Linen exhibition and a chance to see the traditional mills in action.

  • To find out more about these local sites, visit Expedia's new Historic Ireland website. Images courtesy of Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland.

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