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Harlan Family Tours

Welcome to the Harlan Tours Page. Over the years, the Harlans have taken three tours that included England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in search of the sites of our roots. We visited such highlights as St. Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth (site of the baptism of George), Sutton Hall outside of York with its nearby church, the Lurgan Meeting in Northern Ireland and the Harland Moors in Yorkshire.

Past Tours

2018: England & Northern Ireland

This was a trip that we would come to treasure among the best experiences of our lives. A professionally guided journey through the English countryside and landscape of Northern Ireland. We would see and learn about cultural landmarks, grand estates, great cathedrals, remnants of ancient castles and of course, churches, houses, and land specific to the history of the Harlans. Best of all, we formed new friendships that will last a lifetime.

We extend a special thanks to Mary Harlan Murphy as the lead organizer of the trip. She is a wise and knowledgeable companion to have on any journey. We are also grateful for everyone who travelled with us. We were fortunate to have several individuals who went on previous Harlan tours and had extensive knowledge of our family history.

Day 1 - Thursday, April 26, 2018: Manchester

We arrived in Manchester, England by rail from London and checked into the Holiday Inn, Manchester City Center. In the evening we met and had dinner with the other sixteen Harlan acquaintances who would be our travelling companions for the next nine days. We also met our professional tour guide for the trip, Gearoid O'Caoimh, an Irishman with a “gift for gab” and some very interesting stories.

Day 2 - Friday, April 27: Manchester / York

In the morning, we met our bus driver, Simon, for the UK portion of our tour. We would come to appreciate both Simon’s persistent good humor and his ability to navigate a motor coach through some very tight roads and driveways. We departed from Manchester and traveled an hour and a half northeast to Harewood House. Harewood House was built between 1759 and 1771 for the wealthy plantation owner Edwin Lascelles. We toured the house and several of the gardens on the 1,000 acre estate. The entire house was decorated by Thomas Chippendale and boasts one of the finest collections of his furniture in the world. A recent PBS show, Mary Berry’s Country House at Christmas, featured Harewood House.

Harewood House and the Chippendale Diana and Minerva Commode

From Harewood, we continued our drive to York. Upon arrival in York, we had a guided tour of the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, which is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. After the tour, we took time to explore the shops and restaurants of York city center. We then checked into our hotel and had dinner.

Day 3 - Saturday, April 28: York

After breakfast, our first destination was Sutton Park, the site of the Harland House pictured in Alpheus Harlan's Book {page 968}. After a visit to the house and gardens, we crossed the road to visit All Hallows Church. The site of the church has been a place of worship since 1183. Much of the existing church dates to the 15th century. It contains the remains and memorial plaques of several generations of Harlands from Sutton Hall. The Harland family was prominent in the area known as Sutton-on-the Forest for two hundred and fifty years starting in the early 17th century.

Sutton Park — Harland House and York Minster Cathedral

When we finished our tour of the church, Neil Willetts, proprietor of The Rose Crown & Pub noticed our tour bus and invited us to have lunch at his establishment. He opened an hour earlier than usual just for us! Our group readily accepted his offer and enjoyed some special local fare and good conversation. We returned to York and spent the remainder of the day exploring, shopping and choosing a spot for dinner.

Day 4 - Sunday, April 29: York

Following a quick breakfast, we drove north to the seaside town of Monkwearmouth to visit St. Peter's Church where George Harlan was baptized in 1660. It has been a site of worship since 674 AD and parts of the church building date to the late 7th century. We were provided with a guided tour of the church which is on the National Heritage List for England.

St. Peter's — Monkwearmouth

In the afternoon, we headed to Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and best-preserved ruins of Cistercian monasteries in England and is a World Heritage Cultural Site. The 600-acre site also has expansive and beautiful gardens originally designed in the 18th century. After visiting the Abbey ruins and the gardens we returned to York for our last night there.

Fountains Abbey

Day 5 - Monday, April 30: York / Chester

After breakfast we departed York and drove two hours southeast to Chester via Liverpool. In Liverpool, we stopped to tour the Liverpool Cathedral. Built between 1904 and 1978, the cathedral is the longest in the world, the 5th largest by total volume. We stopped for photos and selfies on “Penny Lane” the road made famous by the Beatles. We then enjoyed shopping and lunch at the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool’s historic district.

Liverpool Cathedral

We continued the drive to Chester which was founded as a Roman fortress in the 1st century A.D. and is known for its extensive Roman walls made of local red sandstone. Upon arrival we checked-in to the Queen Hotel Chester, allegedly the most haunted hotel in the UK. We spent time in the afternoon walking on top of the ancient defensive walls and exploring the city. We had dinner at our hotel. There were no ghosts, but we did enjoy some liquid spirits.

Day 6 - Tuesday, May 1: Chester / Conwy / Chester

In the morning, we drove along the northern coast of Wales to Conwy, one of the finest remaining examples of a medieval walled city and another World Heritage Site. We explored the walls, towers and many rooms of Conwy Castle, built by Edward I and completed in 1287. A short distance from the castle we toured what is billed as the “smallest house in Britain”. It was a quick tour. A more interesting tour was that of Plas Mawr, the Elizabethan townhouse built by the wealthy merchant Robert Wynn in 1576. It is almost unchanged from the 16th century and considered the finest surviving townhouse of that era.

Atop Conway Castle overlooking Conway, Wales

In the afternoon we returned to Chester for more exploring and Evensong at Chester Cathedral. An interesting highlight for some of us was a falconry demonstration at Cheshire Falconry Birds of Prey. It was fascinating to learn the history of the sport and amazing to watch the trained birds in action.

Day 7 - Wednesday, May 2: Chester / Liverpool / Belfast

Rising early we drove to Liverpool airport, bid good-bye to our bus driver, Simon and boarded our flight to Belfast. Belfast is essentially a Victorian city and no matter where you go you can see Edwardian and Victorian buildings with elaborate sculptures over the windows and doors. In Belfast , we met our new driver Liam, who was of gentle humor but also adept at managing narrow roads and alleys. Our first stop was Belfast Cathedral. Built in the Romanesque style, the foundation stone was laid in 1899 and the south transept was not finished until 1974 and the north in 1981. It was considered completed with the addition of the Spire of Hope in 2007.

After a brief stop to see The Queens University of Belfast, we made our way to the historic Belfast Port and Harbour which was once the UK's largest shipyard. It is where the Titanic was built by Harland & Wolff shipbuilders and is now the location of the Titanic Center. It is one of the most popular museum experiences in the world and for good reason. It tells the story of the Titanic, from its construction through its fateful maiden voyage in a dramatic, engaging way, using actual artifacts and amazing audio-visual media. It has earned many well-deserved travel awards.

The Titanic, Museum, Harland & Wolff "Samson & Goliath" crane and an image of Titanic's Grand Staircase

After the Titanic center, we checked into the world-famous Europa Hotel in downtown Belfast.

Day 8 - Thursday, May3: Belfast/ Lurgan/ Armagh/Belfast

After breakfast, we were joined by Arthur Chapman who wrote a short history of the Lurgan Society of Friends. He was very engaging, extremely knowledgeable on the history of the Quakers in Ireland and the Harlan family connections with the Society of Friends in Lurgan. We were fortunate that he spent the entire day with us sharing his knowledge of Quakers and local history.

At our first stop of the day, Arthur gave us a tour of The Society of Friends Lynastown Burial Ground. Established in 1658. A number of Thomas Harland descendants are buried there.

We continued on to Lurgan to visit the Society of Friends Meeting House, the subject of Mr. Chapman’s book. First established in 1654 it was the meeting house to which Thomas, George & Michael belonged before emigrating to America. Mr. Chapman provided us with an historical perspective of the mid to late 18th century in general and the Lurgan Society of Friends in particular when Thomas, George and Michael would have been there.

He then took us to the Craigavon Civic Center, where the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is located. We were welcomed as special guests by the serving Lord Mayor of the council, Gareth Wilson. He gave us an overview on why three separate councils decided to become one in 2015 and how the council operates to serve their constituents. It was a pleasure and honor to be hosted by the Lord Mayor.

Our tour group reception & meeting with the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

Back row: Dorothy Sperry, LaRena and Joe Hannon, Tour Guide - Gearoid O'Caoimh, Tony Harlan, Tolly Roby, Nancy Gooding, Joye Kohl, Pat Fluetsch , Bob Walters, Arthur Chapman, Carolyn Schelkopf, Jill Hall
Front row: Janice White, Linda Williams, Debby Harlan, Lord Mayor Gareth Wilson, Mary Harlan Murphy, John Kohl, Denise Walters, Judy Cabrera

We stopped for an afternoon snack at the Tea Room of Brownlow House, a large estate house built in 1833 that now serves as a venue for weddings, conferences and hosting events. During WW II, it served as the HQ for the first American troops deployed to Europe. A portion of the house is a museum dedicated to the story of American troops stationed in Lurgan and other parts of Ireland during the war.

We ended the afternoon with a tour of both St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. We Returned to Belfast and enjoyed dinner as a group, including Mr. Chapman.

Day 9 - Friday, May 4: Belfast/ Giant's Causeway/ Belfast

After breakfast we travelled north and passed through the “Dark Hedges”, a road lined with mysterious interlocking beach trees. This site was used in an episode of the “Game of Thrones”. By late morning we arrived at the coast to see Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark, the Giant's Causeway. This remarkable natural wonder, where over 37,000 basalt columns extend from the cliffs and into the sea, was once believed to be the work of the giants, hence its name. No matter how many times visitors have seen this, the sheer wonder and magic of the columns never fail to impress! It is also listed as a World Heritage site. We then drove along the Antrim Coast as we returned to Belfast and our last night before departure home.

"The Dark Hedges" and Giant's Causeway

We celebrated our last night of the tour by having a very special dinner at “The Great Room” restaurant in the Belfast Merchant Hotel. It is a spectacular venue with an original Victorian interior and food that has won Great Britain’s most prestigious honors for culinary excellence. We spent a wonderful evening enjoying the food and recounting our favorite sites and memories from the trip.

Dinner at the Great Room — Merchant Hotel, Belfast

Upon our return to the Europa Hotel, with sadness, we said farewell to our traveling companions in case we did not get to see them before heading to the airport the following morning.

Day 10 - Saturday, May 5: Depart Belfast

After breakfast we travelled to the Belfast airport with others that had a mid-morning departure time. Our plane lifted off 8:45 AM local time we arrived at our home in the suburbs of Philadelphia about 14 hours later. In 1687, when George and Michael traveled to Pennsylvania, it would have taken 2 or 3 months!

2005: 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish' Hollingsworth Tour

Since the Hollingsworth and Harlan families have many connections, the Hollingsworth's would like any Harlan's to join them. For further information, please contact Susan Aggarwal at VNSAGG@aol.com.

Welcome to an opportunity for treading in the footsteps of our ancestors. See our history as it unfolds in the homeland of our family – in a very special way! Join the members of the Hollingsworth Family as we examine the roots of our family as they lived and worshiped in England and Ireland over three hundred years ago. Perhaps better understand what drove them to embark on a perilous journey that changed the family legacy for centuries into the future. Time spent together in these locations can also change our lives. Bring your grandchildren and children to search for their family beginnings.

The tour will be accompanied by Marjory Harlan Sgroi, a Harlan family member who has arranged four previous tours to examine that family’s history -- which so mirrors our own. Come along on a truly unforgettable trip! Daily Itinerary

Monday, October 17

This is departure day for the flight to Manchester for those not planning to arrive early in England.

Tuesday, October 18

This morning our group arrives and meets at Manchester Airport. We are met by our coach and driver for transfer to our centrally located hotel in Chester, an ancient walled city. We will have lunch together to get acquainted before a free afternoon for resting or wandering in the city. Our escort, Marjory Harlan Sgroi, will be on hand to help direct us to the local sites such as Chester Cathedral or for a walk around the city’s Roman walls. Tonight we will have a welcome reception and dinner with time to talk about upcoming events. (L, D)

Wednesday, October 19

After breakfast this morning, our coach will proceed to the surrounding countryside for visits to Hollingsworth sites. We will visit Hollingsworth Church in Mottram, followed by a visit to Hollingsworth Hall Farm. If it is possible, we will have lunch there or alternatively at a local pub. This evening will be free to explore Chester will suggestions on restaurants and pubs. (B, L)

Thursday, October 20

After a very early breakfast, we will take our coach to Liverpool Airport for the flight to Belfast. We arrive in Belfast midday to meet our Irish guide and driver. Then we will have a panoramic tour of the city, including the spectacular City Hall and Belfast Cathedral. We will also have a drive past the Harland Wolfe Shipyards to see where the infamous Titanic was build. Unfortunately, the shipyards are closed now. After our city tour, we will proceed to Armagh for dinner and overnight. (B, D)

Friday, October 21

After breakfast, today will be devoted to searching out ancestral connections. Mr. Valentine Hollingsworth was born in Ballyvickcrannel in County Armagh in 1632. His family was originally English but migrated to Ireland as “adventurers.” He became a Quaker while still in Ireland but later immigrated to Delaware (then Pennsylvania) in 1687, along with the Harlands, another Quaker family. The two families inter-married in America. The first meeting of the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) was held in Lurgan in 1654, followed by the Lurgan Meeting House, built in 1696. Since the visits of the Harlans in 1994 and 1995, there is a new Meeting House, replacing one badly in need of repair. We will have a meeting with members of the congregation and hear about the history of the parish, followed by lunch prepared by members of the congregation. The rest of today will be spent learning about the history of the Hollingsworths in Northern Ireland. We have some new information about local connections to explore because of a recent trip by John Hollingsworth. Dinner and overnight will be at our Armagh hotel this evening. (B, L, D)

Saturday, October 22

Following breakfast, we drive south to Dublin via Newry, Dundalk and Drogheda. We will stop at the Hill of Tara, known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Then we will continue on to Dublin, arriving early afternoon, in time for an independent lunch in the city. This afternoon we will visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1190. The original structure has been rebuilt many times, with a 300-foot long interior (the longest in Ireland) containing many historic relics. Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) was once Dean here. We will have a stop at the Marsh Library, adjacent to the Cathedral. It was built in 1701 by Archbishop Marsh and was the first public library in Ireland. It contains ancient manuscripts that are chained in small cell-like cubicles, originally for their protection. After this busy day, we check into our hotel with this evening free for dining in Dublin. (B)

Sunday, October 23

After breakfast, we depart Dublin for a drive south through the Wicklow Mountains, with a visit to Glendalough, a 6th century monastic settlement, famous for its round tower and Celtic crosses. We can walk down to the scenic lake to enjoy the green, green countryside before continuing on to Wexford, to explore the town and its surroundings before making our way to our hotel and dinner in the hotel restaurant. (B, D)

Monday, October 24

After breakfast, we visit the Waterford Crystal Factory and admire how skilled craftsmen blow and form the world-renowned crystal art pieces. In the showrooms, we will see the finished products and perhaps indulge in some shopping therapy. Then a drive to Kilkenny to visit the Castle built in the 13th century and once the seat of the Butler family, the Dukes of Ormond. The splendidly restored building is set in a beautiful parkland. We will make a stop for an independent lunch on our way to Dublin just in time to visit Trinity College, where The Book of Kells, a magnificent 9th Century manuscript of the Gospels is on display in the Old Library. It is renowned world-wide for its rich and varied illustrations. We then check into our Dublin Hotel for a short refreshment before being transferred to our Irish Night. We will enjoy dinner and traditional Irish entertainment with music and dance as a farewell to our family journey. (B, D)

Tuesday, October 25

After an early breakfast and packing all of our souvenirs and memories, we are on to the Dublin Airport for our flights home. (B)

1998 Tour

A group of people posing for camera
1998 Trip to Wales
Three men walking into a church
Members of the tour group entering St.Peter's Monkwearmouth Church