The Great Houses of Upper Ireland: The North & Border Counties


May 3-11 and 17-25, 2022

Prepare for a journey to discover the great houses of Ireland’s north, renowned for their architectural splendor, rich material culture, and fascinating history. Stretching across the idyllic countryside of Northern Ireland and the northern borderlands of the Republic of Ireland, we continue the exploration of the Emerald Isle begun in 2014. We visit an enchanting variety of the island’s finest stately homes, including numerous private residences. Join us for an unforgettable survey of their superb collections and fine gardens led by Harriet Landseer of Historic Houses of Ireland.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

May 3 and 17

Gathering at the Merchant Hotel in the historic Cathedral quarter of Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, the program begins with an excursion to Glenarm for a private tour and afternoon tea. This early-17th-century hunting lodge, belonging to the Earls of Antrim, was rebuilt in 1825 by William “Vitruvius” Morrison in the Tudor-Revival style. We return to Belfast for an informative and insightful lecture on 18th-century Ireland by the historian Dr. Anthony Malcomson, with welcome drinks and dinner to follow at the hotel.

D included
Overnight: BELFAST

May 4 and 18

The day opens with a private tour of Mount Stewart led by Peter Lauritzen. The estate is the original seat of the Stewart family who became marquesses of Londonderry and is known for the world-famous formal and woodland gardens planted with exotic rarities by Edith, Lady Londonderry in 1921 and features ‘Athenian’ Stewart’s belvedere, the Temple of the Winds, widely considered his masterpiece and the finest Neoclassical folly in all of Ireland. We are treated to drinks and lunch at the kind invitation of Lady Rose Lauritzen in the family’s private quarters before continuing to Castle Ward. Built between 1760-80, the house’s design represents an eccentric compromise between Bernard Ward, Lord Bangor, who preferred the Palladian style, and his wife Anne, who favored Strawberry Hill Gothic. In the evening, we have the pleasure of dinner at Grey Abbey, an 18th-century Palladian estate with later Neo-Gothic additions overlooking the ruins of a medieval monastery.

B, L, D included
Overnight: BELFAST

May 5 and 19

Restoration architect John O’Connell accompanies us for the day, which commences at Hillsborough Castle, the former Government House of Northern Ireland, where we are greeted by curator Dr. Christopher Warleigh-Lack. We continue to the Italianate Ballywalter for a private lunch. Designed by Charles Lanyon under the influence of Charles Barry, this house was built in the early 19th century for wealthy linen industrialist, Andrew Mulholland, who later served as the Mayor of Belfast. In the early evening, we relish a tour and cocktails at Clandeboye, the home of the late artist and conservationist Lindy Guinness, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava. The estate was erected 1801-4 by Robert Woodgate, an apprentice of Sir John Soane, for the 2nd Baron of Dufferin and Ava and expanded in the late 19th century by the 1st Marquess, a prominent diplomat. The hall features artifacts collected by the Marquess during his travels around the British empire, and the library was famously described as “one of the pleasantest rooms on earth.”

B, L included
Overnight: BELFAST

May 6 and 20

Departing Belfast, our morning excursion takes us to Armagh, the ecclesiastic capital of Northern Ireland, where we encounter the Anglican Cathedral of St. Patrick. Many of the public buildings and Georgian townhouses along the Mall were commissioned by the enlightened patron Archbishop Richard Robinson, including the Archbishop’s Palace and Library. After lunch, we continue to The Argory, constructed in the Greek Revival style in the 1820s and containing much of the Victorian furnishings commissioned for a later renovation. We continue to Enniskillen and our lodgings at Belle Isle, 17th-century castle sitting in the middle of Lough Erne.

B, L included

May 7 and 21

The day begins with an exploration of the James Wyatt masterpiece Castle Coole, built for the Earl of Belmore at the end of the 18th century to outdo his brother-in-law’s home, Florence Court, which we visit later in the day. Curator Christine Powell Montague provides special insight into the collection of decorative arts, almost all of which predates 1830. We are hosted by Lord Belmore, who shares the original plans of the house. A short drive brings us to a private lunch at nearby Killyreagh, which boasts a fine collection of French furniture and a wonderful garden. In the afternoon, we tour Florence Court, named after the wife of Sir John Cole, who commissioned a dwelling on the site in the early 18th century. Subsequently adapted in the Palladian style, wings were then added by the first Earl of Enniskillen in the 1770s. We give special attention to the original furniture, recently returned to the owners. In the evening, we partake in drinks at the Victorian-era Crom Castle, located on a 1,900-acre estate on the shores of the Upper Lough Erne, before enjoying dinner at Hilton Park, the home of the Madden family since the early 18th century, featuring well-preserved interiors and impressive contents.

B, L, D included

May 8 and 22

The morning takes us to the beautiful Lissadell House and Gardens overlooking Sligo Bay, built by Francis Goodwin in the 1830s in the Greek Revival Style for Sir Robert Gore-Booth. We continue to the sumptuous Baronscourt for lunch and a pleasant afternoon visit. Originally constructed in 1780 in the Georgian style for the 8th Earl of Abercorn, the dwelling was later remodeled by Sir John Soane and William “Vitruvius” Morrison. The rooms exhibit outstanding plasterwork and collections of fine French furniture and paintings.

B, L included

May 9 and 23

Traversing the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic, we reach Bellamont Forest, a great Palladian residence created 1725-1730 for Thomas Coote. We continue to lunch and a tour of the romantic Gothic Revival castle of Tullynally. Constructed as a plain semi-fortified Plantation house in the late 1600s, Tullynally received a Georgian treatment in the 1740s and was further transformed in the early 19th century with the inclusion of two enormous wings and a central tower by the fashionable Irish architect Sir Richard Morrison. In the late afternoon, we reach our luxurious lodgings at the Georgian country estate of Bellinter House.

B, L, D included
Overnight: BELLINTER

May 10 and 24

An up-tempo conclusion to our Irish exploration focuses on sites in the Boyne Valley. Headfort House, near the town and medieval monastery of Kells, was constructed in the 1760s to the designs of Dublin-based architect George Semple for Sir Thomas Taylour, later 1st Earl of Bective. The original Neoclassical rooms were recently restored. Beaulieu House is perhaps the greatest 17th-century building in Ireland, with wonderful contents. We savor a private lunch at the mid-18th-century Collon House, with an excellent collection of decorative arts, before moving on to delight in the well-preserved interiors and gardens of the Neo-Norman Barmeath Castle. We finish the trip and celebrate our extraordinary excursion with a farewell dinner at a grand private home, Slane Castle.

B, L, D included
Overnight: BELLINTER

May 11 and 25

Transfer by coach for departures from the Dublin Airport.


Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$6,850 per person, based on double occupancy for 8 nights, for the tour.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation of your registration from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,500 per person is required by September 30, 2021. Reservations and deposits are taken on an as received basis. You will receive written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust when we are in receipt of your registration. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make checks payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to 206 West State Street, Suite 300, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $750 to be paid with the final balance.

Final Payment:
Will be due by January 31, 2022. Invoices for the final payment will be mailed in early January.

Membership at the Sponsor level is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is fully tax deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A suggested reading list will be sent to you.

The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The trip will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. We will organize and maintain waiting lists on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip Abroad should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the Study Trip Abroad; the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others; or the standing of the Decorative Arts Trust. A valid United States passport is required for this itinerary.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4-and 5-star hotels, 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 4 dinners, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refunds:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All Cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee per person. Deposits are non-refundable after September 30, 2021. Cancellations arriving by February 18, 2022 will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations arriving by March 24, 2022, will receive a 25% refund. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after March 24, 2022. In the event of unforeseen circumstances amounting to force majeure, all monies will be refunded less any non-recoverable costs. THE TRUST STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE TO PROTECT AGAINST CANCELLATIONS DUE TO ILLNESS AND INJURY.


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