Three separate centres tell the story of linen, once a mainstay of textile manufacturing in Northern Ireland and now enjoying a revival.
The Irish Linen Centre, part of the excellent town museum in Lisburn, traces the development of linen-making in all its aspects from the 17th c. onwards, and highlights scutching and weaving. The centre also has a short audio-visual presentation on the history of a fictional linen firm. A spinner's cottage and the grim Victorian mill era are recreated. The centre also has an outstanding collection of old costumes. Craft shop, restaurant.
Fergusons in Banbridge is the only maker in the world of double damask linen and its exhibition centre relates both the story of linen and of the firm itself. The Benburb Valley Heritage Centre is in a former linen mill and has a fine collection of linen-making machinery, including an 1899 steam engine. The centre captures well the sights and sounds of an old linen mill, with its warping, weaving, dyeing and beetling.
Irish Linen Centre: Admission charge. Open all year.
Ferguson Linen Centre: Admission charge. Open all year.
Benburb Valley Heritage Centre: Admission charge. Open Easter-September.
Irish Linen Centre: Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim BT28 lAG.
Ferguson Linen Centre: Scarva Road, Banbridge, County Down BT32 3AU.
Benburb Valley Heritage Centre: Benburb, County Tyrone BT71 7LZ.