Wednesday, 21 March 2018
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August 2016

Ni4kids Child of Year winner Lucy Parke, from Castlewellan, and her family step back into history on a day trip to The Argory...

The National Trust looks after some of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful and special places, giving us a glimpse of how families used to live decades ago. Our children, Lucy (6) twins Jenny and Jake (5) and baby Ben (17 months) are still a little too young to understand all the advantages they have with modern day living, so a family outing to the 19th century Irish gentry house in Moy, outside Dungannon, offered us a wonderful opportunity to teach them a little local history, combined with a fun-filled summer day out.

At the 320-acre wooded riverside estate you will find the former home of the MacGeough Bond family. Built in the 1820s, the décor of the house has remained unchanged since 1900 and its views of sweeping vistas, scenic walks and a large farmyard courtyard with secondhand bookshop, gift store and café are delightful for family exploration. Top of the agenda for any child’s visit is also the large natural free-range adventure playground. Keen to make the most of our time there on our first visit, we met up with visitor experience officer Becky Lennox in the reception area, who kindly gave us an outline of the property complete with leaflets and maps to help guide us around. On your visit there, make sure you also grab an adventure scrapbook and have a go at ticking off some of the National Trust recommended 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ - fantastic fun.

The kids’ tummy lunch bells were ringing loudly though so before we stepped into our time machine we trotted off to The Courtyard Coffee Shop for some tasty homemade carrot and coriander soup, freshly baked scones and toasties, followed by Lucy’s favourite, chocolate brownies (the Courtyard’s recipe got a big thumbs up from her!). Kids eat free* from Monday to Friday over the summer holidays, so a meal there doesn’t break the bank either. The free Wi-Fi is also worth noting in case you can’t get Dad out the door for a day out without the promise that he’ll be able to keep up with the sports news.

Stomach rumblings more than satisfied, it was time for our work to begin. We headed to the laundry room where the Parke kids discovered what it would have been like to be a maid many years ago and got stuck into some clothes washing – Victorian style. We live on a farm so a visit to the stables next was a bit of a busman’s holiday for us, but the kids all loved dressing up in the waistcoats and caps while they had a go at cleaning out the stables. There’s spades and rakes for all budding stable hands and they got busy brushing the sawdust up into piles and emptying it into the mini-wheelbarrows. Typically, as with children, I’d never seen them embrace a chore so enthusiastically at home! Baby Ben wasn’t for leaving he was having so much fun, but we finally lured him away with the promise of an ice lolly to cool them all down.

Refreshed after all that hard work, it was now time for play and we all had a go at skipping, giant draughts, snakes and ladders and ticked a few more things off our 11¾ list by rolling down a really big hill on the lawn in front of the house, making a daisy chain and holding a scary beast (a terrified spider found on a tree but we put him back gently to continue his climb to the top).

As it was such a beautiful day we wanted to make the most of the opportunity to have fun outside, however on a visit (if the weather isn’t just so kind) there’s still plenty to do as young detectives can join the Pest Quest in the main house and see what’s eating The Argory’s collection. Help the conservation team track down all the pesky pests hiding out among the furniture and fabrics and your kids will receive a sticker when their quest is complete.

The final big treat was the fantastic woodland play area complete with jungle climbing frame, balancing logs, a rope swing and short and long walks to run around on too. Lucy has to be careful that she doesn’t get too much sun, so the large shaded areas underneath the trees are perfect, offering protection from sun and making sure the kids don’t get too overheated while they play. We spent our final hour happily climbing, swinging, spinning, hiding, looking at the world upside down and just HAVING FUN. Exactly what kids should be doing during the summer holidays.

Of course a big day out needs a souvenir reminder to bring back all those happy memories, so before we clambered exhausted back into the car, we had a browse in the gorgeous gift shop for some pencils and other pencil case fillers for back to school come September.

So if you’re wondering what’s the final verdict of the Parke family on our visit? We thoroughly enjoyed our day at The Argory. It’s a stunning property with loads for explorers of all ages to enjoy. We not only learned a lot, but we had stacks of fun while doing it. Thanks National Trust, we hope too much time doesn’t pass before we see you again.”

Don’t Miss

Lazy Sundays. Local musicians will entertain visitors every Sunday throughout August from 1pm to 4pm in the Courtyard and the sizzling summer BBQ will be in full swing.

Afternoon tea. On Sunday August 28 enjoy finger sandwiches, Victoria sponge, homemade scones and other seasonal delights. Booking essential, Adult £20, Child £10 (includes estate admission). Members £15 & £7.50.

For a fun-packed day out this summer…

Pack up the car and visit The Argory, open 7 days a week in August from 12 to 5pm.
For more information visit
Find on facebook NationalTrustMidUlster or Tel: 028 8778 4753

Gift Aid Admission Prices:
Adult £5.50 Child £2.50 Family £13.50

Last house tour, one hour before closing.

Registered charity number 205846

Things to tick off your 11¾ list at The Argory

Roll down a really big hill

There’s a perfect one on the lawn in front of the main house

Build a den

Find stacks of branches and natural materials in and around the children’s playground

Make a daisy chain

Pick a perfect spot in the garden and get busy making a gift for the fairies

Set up a snail race

Be gentle and remember to put them back where you find them

Make a grass trumpet

Find a long blade and start up the band

For more ideas visit or sign up to upload pictures and unlock certificates as you complete the activities

Find out more about Lucy’s story in our Ni4kids Family Awards coverage
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