All the places listed on this page are publicly accessible and can be visited either directly (such as a museum) or indirectly (another site located on or in a military structure). I will continue to add to this page as I find interesting places.
Crumlin Road Gaol
Historic Victorian prison and home to many political prisoners throughout the Troubles. Famously the last prison in the UK to commit a prisoner to death by hanging, and a tunnel connects the prison with the courts house across the road, perhaps instrumental in the expression “taken him down (the tunnel to prison).” Now a visitor attraction with conference facilities, more information on their website.
I haven’t visited the renovated site at Ebrington yet, but it is on my to do list. Construction of the original barracks started in July 1841 and once complete was in constant occupation until 2003 when the Army moved out. The site became HMS Ferret during WW2 as the Royal Navy took over during the time Londonderry was a major naval port for both Brith and US sailors. During Operation Banner 1969 – 2007, Ebrington played a major part in the security of the North and Londonderry, and as such could be seen as a controversial location for some members of the community. I hope the new use of the site, which includes public spaces, offices and other accommodation will be a suitable balance to secure the long term future of the site. A nice history of the site can be read on the developers website here.
A site with a complex history being home to British soldiers then Irish. The main fort protecting the very strategic Lough Swilly in County Donegal, a rare deep water refuge for the Atlantic fleet. Left abandoned to the elements, it rewards visitors with curated exhibitions and total dereliction, almost as it was when it was built over 100 years ago, and a great example demonstrating the evolution of fort and coastal artillery through the last century.
Grey Point Fort
A great example of an early 20th Century coastal artillery battery that was completed in 1907 and was active throughout WW1 and WW2, protecting the vital shipping port of Belfast. Open Friday to Sunday 1000 – 1600 (as advertised, there is no guarantee it will be!) you can explore the fort at leisure and see the two guns in position with stunning views over Belfast Lough.
Situated on the Clandeboye Estate, Helen’s Tower was built in 1848 for the mother of Lord Dufferin. The tower became synonymous with the 36th (Ulster) Division who were formed and trained on the Estate before shipping to the Somme where they fought and suffered great casualties during 1916. A replica of the tower now sits on the battlefield as a memorial to those lost who held the tower close to their hearts.
Magilligan Martello Tower
Situated at the mouth to Lough Foyle, this Martello Tower proudly guarded the strategic waterway from when it was built between 1812 and 1817 through to the WW2 when it served as an observation post for the coastal artillery battery on the point. I have some more information on the role of Magilligan Point in my article here.
Royal Ulster Rifles Museum
Located in Belfast City Centre, the RUR Museum is the Regimental home of this prestigious and now disbanded regiment. A small museum, but a good visit to spend an hour or so and see some rare Regimental artefacts. Details online here.
Ulster Aviation Society
The USA collection currently includes more than 35 aircraft ranging from vintage WWII fighters through Cold War-era fast jets, Shorts-designed & built aircraft, civilian aircraft, plus military helicopters, engines, artefacts and rare aviation reference materials, all with strong links to aviation within the island of Ireland. Visit the museum website here.
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
Split across two sites (within walking distance) both the Folk and Transport museums capture life in Northern across the past 100 years. Uniquely, the buildings in the Folk museum have been painstakingly dismantled brick by brick from their original locations where they were under threat, before being transported to the museum where they have been rebuilt to their original specification and are now open to the public. Great to visit for a wander, and definitely worth bringing the camera. The museum is a living history museum, staff come in character and many of the buildings are ‘lived in.’ Visit online here.