2020 Ireland Trip

The structure and general plans for the Blackburn Family Association 2020 trip to Ireland are now in place. Hotel rooms and pricing have been secured. The final cost of the daytime tour activities is still in the planning stages and will ultimately depend on how many travelers we have.

Many are planning on arriving to Europe earlier or staying later, but you should plan on getting to Belfast in the afternoon or evening of Thursday, July 23, 2020. We will plan on meeting at some point in the evening at a local pub simply to socialize and get to know each other. The tab for the evening will be your own expense.

Friday, July 24, 2020, we will ease into our visit as some may be adjusting to jet lag. There will be a three-hour bus tour of Belfast, with a tour guide, run once in the morning and again in the afternoon. The other half of the day will be “open” so that travelers can then spend time at the sites that are of greatest interest to them personally – Titanic Belfast, Belfast Castle, Botanic Gardens, Parliament buildings.  That evening we will have a family dinner at a local establishment.

Saturday, July 25, 2020, we will have a very busy and touristy day. We will leave right after breakfast and head to Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway, Dunlace Castle and Dark Hedges before returning to Belfast. A box lunch will be provided. That evening you will be on your own.

Sunday, July 26, 2020, we will head out to Moyallon Friends Meeting where we will share Quaker meeting for worship with local Quakers. (For those of you who are also Morton descendants, there are usually some Morton cousins in attendance.) We will plan on sharing lunch with local Friends and then continue our tour to Money Burial Ground, the resting place of John and Elizabeth Blackburn, parents of the immigrant. We will then visit the site of the Ballyhagan meeting house where the early Blackburns worshiped and married. We will end our day in the town of Loughgall, where the Blackburns lived. Upon returning to Belfast, travelers will be on their own.

Monday, July 27, 2020 will take us to Lurgan, a town with the first Quaker meeting house in Ireland (Ballyhagan was second) and the “home” Quaker meeting for the Harlan family, from whom many Blackburns also descend. We will run past another historic Quaker cemetery and then head to Lisburn for lunch. Lisburn was a commercial hub (linens, textiles, glassware) for the Quaker merchants throughout the north of Ireland. The afternoon in Lisburn will be unstructured as a nod to travelers who want to do some shopping locally – Lisburn is great for that. For those more inclined toward history, the Irish Linen Museum is there. It will be a “you pick” afternoon. Monday evening we will be gathering for a “send-off” dinner.

Our host hotel will be the Hampton Inn and breakfast will be included each day.  Room rates are fantastic. In British pounds per night: single (80), double/twin (90); triple double bed/sofa (120).  This rate INCLUDES breakfast, VAT and any service charges. There are no quads. Reservations will be made directly and handled by the traveler, although the hotel system is not set up to take our reservations just yet.

So, the BFA travel package will include the bus trips noted above, entrance fees for the visits on July 24, lunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner on Friday and Monday.  Travelers will not be able to pick “a la carte” for this trip – it’s all or nothing. Final pricing on this will depend upon number of travelers, exchange rates and meal options that are to be determined, but it might be in the $300-350 range per person. Travelers will have to understand that this number won’t be finalized until the very end, but we will begin narrowing it down in the months ahead.

At this point we are planning on two buses, or 104 travelers in total. Any number bigger than that would be hard to manage. Spots for the package will be reserved on a first-come first-served basis.  To reserve your spot now, send a deposit of $200 per traveler to the Blackburn Family Association at 25474 Wareham Dr. Huntington Woods, MI  48070. When you send your deposit, please note what type of room configuration you prefer for the hotel. Instructions on final hotel reservations will be provided once you have secured your spot on the tour.

Deposits for the BFA package can be refunded up to 30 days in advance. The hotel will allow cancellations of up to five rooms 30 days in advance, so we will have some flexibility there. Any rooms within our block that are not booked will be released 90 days in advance. We are hoping to have most everything locked in relative to the number of travelers by March 31st, 2020

Questions? Contact Kevin Howley at 248-761-1193 or khowley@aol.com.