In 2015, the Foundation recommenced 'old style' family history conferences. We were amazed at the response with the conference planned for September quickly selling out, resulting us organising a second conference in October. In total, 165 people participated in our autumn conferences in 2015. Our delegates hailed from a variety of countries across the globe including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and Ireland, and enthusiastically embraced the extensive and varied conference programmes including the research opportunities at PRONI and the interesting tours to a host of locations such as the extraordinary prehistoric burial tomb at Knowth and the wonderful Barons Court, home to the Duke of Abercorn, the Foundation's President.

Conference Graphic Tour Based

Throughout both the September and October 2015 conferences we were blessed with fine weather and particular highlights included our evenings at the Reform Club, the trips to the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle and our visits to St Columb’s Cathedral. The Dean, William Morton, was a most gracious host and took the time to play There is a Green Hill Far Away and The Londonderry Air, filling the cathedral with the sound of the marvellous pipe organ making for a genuinely memorable experience and one which will be treasured by all our visitors.

In 2016 we delivered family history conferences in June (15–22) and September (4–10). These were similar in format with opportunities for research at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and also the chance to research in the Dublin archives (National Library, National Archives and Registry of Deeds). There were also daily tours to many historic sites and beautiful locations. In addition to the world famous attractions of the Giant’s Causeway, Titanic Belfast and Bru na Boinne, our 2016 programme featured a visit to the forbidding Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

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Visit of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society

Similar conferences were organised in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, Covid-19 resulted in the cancellation of planned events for 2020 and 2021. However, we were delighted to be able to resume our conference programme in 2022 with a June gathering, bringing together attendees from Arizona, British Columbia, California, Florida, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Washington State. Some delegates used the opportunity to carry out research at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland where UHF staff were on hand to assist them find out more about their ancestors.

The outings in 2022 included visits to Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast and Carrickfergus Castle; a visit to the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies and the Ulster American Folk Park, followed by a tour of Barons Court, the home of the Duke of Abercorn; a drive to the Boyne Valley and the opportunity to explore the passage tomb at Newgrange, followed by a visit to the Robinson Library and St Patrick’s Cathedral in the city of Armagh; an excursion to the historic city of Derry and a visit to Downhill with its stunning views along the coastline; a tour of the centuries-old Killyleagh Castle and the ruins of Inch Abbey, and a visit to the town of Downpatrick to see places associated with our patron saint; and, finally, a drive along the beautiful Antrim coast road to the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Distillery.

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No sooner had we waved goodbye to our June 2022 conference delegates than we had the pleasure of welcoming a group of visitors from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. The Society was founded in 1869 and is the oldest and largest genealogical organisation in New York. Led by Jen Davis, the Society’s Director of Development and Membership, the tour party was drawn from different places in the United States.

The Foundation organised daily outings and activities for the group from 20 to 24 June, including visits to Titanic Belfast, the Belfast Charitable Society at Clifton House, Crumlin Road Gaol, the Giant’s Causeway, Barons Court, the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, and the Ulster American Folk Park. There were also opportunities to visit archives and libraries, including the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the new archive and library at The Priory in Benburb, the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Library & Archive and the Robinson Library in Armagh, and the Linen Hall Library in Belfast.

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