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Take a Talk and a Tour with the University of Ulster

15 July 2011

The University of Ulster’s popular summer programme, Talks and Tours, is underway once again.

Led by expert guides with specialist knowledge, many of the trips offer unique access to unusual places around Northern Ireland which participants might not otherwise get the chance to see.

A number of events reflect the teaching and research connected to the University, but the emphasis is on providing an enjoyable and leisurely experience.

The north west region is rich in its variety of ancient places – some familiar and others which are not often visited.

Archaeologist and award-winning author Thomas McErlean, a Senior Research Fellow in the University’s Environmental Sciences Research Institute, will escort tours to two of our heritage jewels, the Western Bann Valley on Wednesday July 20 and the Glens of Antrim on Thursday July 28.

And on Tuesday July 26 popular local historian Alex Blair leads a morning visit to the Cistercian Abbey at Portglenone, followed by a picnic lunch at Portglenone Forest Park.

The afternoon will be spent at the historic Moravian Village in Gracehill, with the opportunity to visit the unusual ‘God’s Acre’ graveyard where men and women are buried in separate areas.

On Wednesday August 3 Mary Delargy, Outreach Co-ordinator with the Derry and Raphoe Library Conservation Project, hosts an enlightening tour of Derry, where she explores the city’s past as it moves into the future as the City of Culture 2013.

In Old Meets New in The Maiden City there will be visits to the ancient St Augustine’s Church of Ireland, the historic walls, the Verbal Arts Centre which is stepped in its own cultural heritage and the state-of-the art multimedia Nerve Centre.

The Talks and Tours programme also includes a series of talks on a wealth of subjects, which take place in Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart each Tuesday and Thursday from now until August 2.

On July 19 Alex Blair traces the lifestyle of early Scottish Planters in his discussion on Work and Leisure in Rural North Antrim in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries.

Dominating the rural population of north Antrim at the time, Alex will talk through their daily toil on the land and the ‘craic’ that took place during the regular evening’s entertainment in the ceildhe houses.

In The Search for Chemical Needles in Biological Haystacks on July 21 Franklin Smyth, Professor of Bio-Analytical Chemistry in the University, looks at the history and relevance of chemical analysis in today’s world.

He will illustrate the many fascinating uses of this technique in areas such as the diagnosis of human metabolic disorders, drug discovery in nature, drug detection in athletics and the analysis of drugs purchased on the internet.

On July 28 local author, Diana Kirkpatrick, offers a unique insight into her father’s experiences during World War II, drawing on his diary notes, letters, old photos and archive material.

Based on her carefully researched book about Coleraine man Gunner Harry Cummings entitled A Souvenir of Conflict, her talk will open a very personal window on local military history.

Turning to the island of Ireland, Thomas McErlean celebrates its 61,402 townlands with a special focus on their role in the Irish landscape during a talk entitled The Irish Townland, Origin, Function and Identity< which takes place on July 26.

Ending on a musical note, the Talks and Tours series wraps up with an illustrated presentation by jazz aficionado Melvin Lyons, who explores the main figures and events in the development of jazz.

In Jazz: The Crafty Art on August 2 he will use music recordings and video to highlight leading instrumentalists and key vocalists including Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Keith Jarrett and jazz band Weather Report.

Full details about all the events in the Talks and Tours 2011 programme are available at

For information or to book, phone 028 7012 4449.