The conferences were enjoyed for the daily tours: offered as an alternative to a day in the archives. During the course of 15 years, so much ground was covered and so many activities packed into the programmes that our delegates were exhausted and enthralled in equal measure! There were no nights off either, with a busy social round for people to enjoy. Usually the conferences were staged in two locations, namely Belfast and Dublin. The Dublin leg of the programme was devised to give delegates, who also had ancestors from outside of Ulster, the opportunity to use the national repositories in the city.
In the late 1990s, diversification resulted in spin-offs – post-conference tours visiting southern Ireland, and later Scotland, enabling delegates to unearth the Scottish dimension to their Irish ancestry. The conferences gave many overseas visitors their first experience of Northern Ireland. UHF conference participants gained the confidence to use the local repositories. So much so that many became champions for Ulster as a visitor destination and they began to make regular visits on their own. Encouraging independent travel and off-the beaten-track tourism can definitely be seen as one of the legacies of these programmes.
Over the years many participants became regulars. One man – John McElroy, attended every conference held by UHF between 1991–2006. The value placed by visitors on the efforts of UHF staff ensured friends from England, Scotland, Australia, Canada, USA, and even South Africa and Bermuda, made a point of returning, again and again. Sure evidence that a lasting connection with Ulster had been made. One short quotation from the many unsolicited testimonials received over the years might suffice:
"In a New York minute! Loved it! Your staff and the personal touch is what visitors need – you exemplify all that is nice." - Margaret Reid, Chicago, USA 1996