Last week-end mum and myself took drove to Tyrone where the story of Urney Chocolates all began. Urney, meaning place of prayer, is a parish just outside Strabane and straddles the Donegal-Tyrone border. The 5 gruelling hours it took to get were quickly forgotten on our arrival. We were met by John Haire, his brother William and John's lovely family who generously kept us fed and watered as we exchanged Urney Chocolates trivia. John and William are avid local historians and had a plethora of Urney memorabilia to show us.
To make the experience more tangible John drove us out to the original site where the factory had started. There is now a graveyard where Urney House once stood overlooking the river Finn. (Please excuse the ropiness of my stitched-together landscape...) The production of confectionery had started in the cellar of Urney house until the former rectory burned down. Then a purpose-built factory and bungalow was erected on the grounds of the estate until 2 years later it was to suffer the same fate, which prompted the business to move south to Tallaght. There are no traces of these buildings left on the beautiful site but the views of the river winding through the gently undulating countryside can't have changed very much. John then took us to a few other sites (another blogs work) and we left over-laden with fantastic images and gathered information. They could not have been more helpful or more giving with their time, collections and hospitality. It was a truly memorable trip.