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Update: 4th July 2016

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The photo below features P6 pupils from Bush Primary School.  They are pictured with the Vice Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Cllr. Sharon McAleer, and Finbarr O'Hagan, the Guardian of Tullaghoge Fort.

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This photo was taken at "Warrior School!" during The Gathering of the Clans at the end of June.  This very popular programme,which featured a combination of living history and art and was attended by classes from ten local primary schools, was a very suitable culmination to this school year's heritage education programme at The Hill of The O'Neill & Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre.

From September 2015 to June 2016, 2148 pupils participated in heritage education activities at this centre.  This is an increase on previous years.  During this year, many schools returned to visit and to take part in learning activities, and a number of schools visited us for the first time.  I wish to thank all of the teachers who have decided to include the education activities on offer at The Hill of The O'Neill & Ranfurly House in their school curricula and who have supported the work that we do here.  Your support, and your ideas, are always appreciated. 

A number of primary schools will be involved in local studies at this centre in the new school year as part of the pupils' study of The World Around Us.  This is a new, and natural, development of our heritage education programme which I am looking forward to being involved with.  If you have any heritage education ideas which you feel could become a part of this programme, please contact me at

The schools' education programme is taking a short rest until September.  This will give us all a chance to review and refresh the programmes on offer.  We start again on Friday 9th September when the Victorian Bank Manager will give free guided tours of Ranfurly House and The Hill of The O'Neill on Schools' Day as part of European Heritage Open Days. 

I look forward to welcoming you during the new school year!  Enjoy the summer!




Update:  25th March 2016

776.  The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BC.  97 x 8 = 776.  But a much more important fact: 776 pupils participated in heritage education programmes at Hill of The O'Neill & Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre during the three month period from January to March 2016!

A very big thank you to all of the pupils, teachers and school staff who made the decision to take part in our programmes at this centre and to support our heritage education programme.

During this three month period, pupils from schools across the Mid Ulster district, from Caledon to Draperstown, have participated in the following programmes: 

  • The Victorian Bank Manager's Children (January)
  • Words on the Hill with Liz Weir (February)
  • The Workhouse/World Book Day Event (February/March)
  • Create a Castle! (March)

Here are some of the comments that teachers made about these programmes:

  • The Victorian Bank Manager's Children: The highlight of the visit was the time in the Victorian classroom.  Brilliant!  Howard PS, Moygashel
  • Words on the Hill:  The initial presentation was excellent -  children were engrossed.  Clipboards were a great idea as the children kept writing and this kept their interest.  Lisfearty PS, Dungannon
  • The Workhouse: Fantastic trip, and will be giving glowing reports to all who ask.  Will be back next year. St Columba's PS, Straw, Draperstown
  • The Workhouse: An excellent programme - the children were enthused by being able to make their study of the Famine real and relevant.  Sacred Heart PS, Rock
  • Create a Castle! Brilliant - great activity.  The children thoroughly enjoyed this hands-on activity. Great experience of working in groups.  Woods PS, Magherafelt
  • Create a Castle! Very informative and pitched at the right level for the children with regards to their age.  St Patrick's PS, Dungannon

Other school and college groups paid visits and these were tailored to their specific curriulum requirements.  

I am looking forward to welcoming more pupils and school staff after the Easter break.  A new programme is starting in May, "In Sight - In Touch - In Mind".  This will take us outside and allow us to explore the natual environment of The Hill of The O'Neill.  And in June "The Return of the Clans" festival will feature a week of heritage education events for local schools.

For now, I wish you a Happy Easter with lots of Easter eggs!



Update:  23rd December 2015

Christmas is here once again.  The festive season is an occasion when you take time to look back at the previous twelve months with fondness, and sometimes, a little trepidation! 

I'll start with the fondness.  2015 has been another great year for the Heritage Education programme at the Hill of The O'Neill & Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre.  All of the programmes have been extremely well attended :  A Victorian Christmas in Ranfurly House  had its most successful season with more than 400 children participating in Christmas-themed educational activities. At the suggestion of visiting teachers, I intend to extend this event in December 2016.

(The photo below features the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Cllr. Linda Dillon, with children and staff participating in Old Time Toys, part of A Victorian Christmas in Ranfurly House.)

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I wish to thank all of the schools and colleges which have continued to support the educational work which we carry out and which have made visits here part of their school curricula.  This year, with the advent of Mid Ulster District Council, we have been visited by schools from across the Mid Ulster district, and beyond. I hope that this trend will continue in the future.

And the trepidation?  There isn't any realIy, but new opportunities have emerged during this year.  An exciting new venture is the Seamus Heaney Project in Bellaghy, and I have been privileged to work on the pre-opening education programme with 24 schools and colleges in that area.  The new centre in Bellaghy, when it opens in 2016, will be a fitting tribute to one of the world's greatest poets, as well as being a superb resource for schools in Mid Ulster.

With the continued success of the education programme in Dungannon, and the prospect of the opening of the centre dedicated to Seamus Heaney in Bellaghy, 2016 already bears the hallmarks of being a wonderful year.  I am looking forward to it!

I hope to welcome you to Ranfurly House in 2016.  For now, I wish you a Happy Christmas and a Joyous New Year. 



Update :  28th October 2015

We have been really busy at The Hill of the O'Neill & Ranfurly House since the new school year started.  398 pupils from local primary and post-primary schools, as well as students from South West College, have participated in the Heritage Education programme at this centre since 1st September.

As usual, Words on the Hill, with the writer and storyteller Liz Weir, was very popular and really well received.  Many of the poems which the pupils started during their visits here have already been completed, and I have received the finished poems from three of the participating schools.  All of the poetry will be published in an anthology of children's writing in December.  I want to share one of these poems with you.  It has been composed by Lorcan, a P7 pupil at Derrylatinee Primary School:


A Tyrone Shepherd

I am a shepherd,

I live on my own.

Just me and my dog,

On the hills of Tyrone.


In the woods all around me

Are wolves, fierce and wild,

Who threaten my sheep,

Poor things, quiet and mild.


 My language is Irish,

My Chief, Great Hugh O’Neill.

The ways of the English

For me hold no appeal.


When the nights are dark and the winds are cold,

My great Irish mantle, around me I fold.

By an open fire with flames crackling high,

I keep myself warm, beneath the wide open sky.


I am a poor shepherd

And though I’m alone,

I live in great freedom

On the hills of Tyrone. 


Lorcan's poem is a good example of the excellent work in literacy which is happening in our local schools.

There is another opportunity to participate in Words on the Hill in February 2016 - but this time for free!  Poetry Ireland has just provided funding towards this programme, for which we are very grateful.  The writing and storytelling workshops with Liz Weir will, I know, book up very quickly, so book early and avoid disappointment!

Bookings can be made by telephoning Ranfurly House Reception at 028 8772 8600, or by emailing  

For more details, contact me, Peter Lant, (Education Officer) at 

or by telephoning 028 8772 8600.



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Words on The Hill with Liz Weir 

What happened to the skeletons on the Hill of The O'Neill?  Why was the seven year old son of Hugh O'Neill arrested?  Who used the tunnels under the Hill?  Join the acclaimed writer and storyteller Liz Weir in creative writing workshops and explore these and other mysterious facts from the Hill of The O'Neill - then transform them into poetry!

The poetry writing workshops run for a week in September and a week in February. There will be one two and a half hour session each day.  This event is suitable for Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils.

• Cost:  £2 per pupil/£50 per class of up to 30 pupils.
• School staff:  free


 Curriculum Links
 Language and Literacy:  Talking and Listening; Reading; Writing
 The World Around us:  History
 TS and PC:  Being Creative; Working With Others
Statutory Requirements:  Change Over Time; Place

For more information,or to make a booking, contact Ranfurly House Reception This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or telephone 028 8772 8600

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Monday 17th - Friday 21st October 2016

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History On The Hill 

History on the Hill - a Heritage Education programme designed specifically for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils, providing opportunities for the study of a series of local historical events which had international consequences and which still have resonances to this day.

 History On The Hill combines history, puppetry and drama.  Pupils take a tour of the permanent exhibition on The Flight of the Earls and the Plantation of Ulster (with study booklets for KS2 pupils/a Big Book storytelling session for KS1 pupils).  There follows an exploration of the Hill of The O’Neill, then either a specially written puppet show (KS1), or a drama workshop (KS2), which continues the themes of the exhibition.  Time Steps will facilitate the drama aspects of this programme

  • Suitable for KS1(P3/4) and KS2 pupils
  • One 2½ hour session each day, with a 20 minute mid-morning break
  • Cost:  £2 per pupil/£50 per class of 30 pupils
  • School staff:  free
Curriculum Links 
Language and Literacy:  Talking and Listening; Reading (KS2); Writing (KS2) 
The World Around Us:  History 
TS and PC :  Being Creative;Working With Others
Statutory Requirements:  Change Over Time; Place

Teacher notes and a PDF version of the KS2 booklet are available by contacting the Education Officer, Peter Lant, by email at 

You may make a booking by contacting Ranfurly House  or telephoning 028 8772 8600

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