Most National Trust sites will be open for free today across Northern Ireland, and the charity’s sites in Fermanagh will be open without charge tomorrow.
This is an opportunity for everyone to savour treats including the world famous Giant’s Causeway and the Argory in Co Armagh.
Also included is Mount Stewart, the property on the Ards peninsula with fine gardens and a house with a history encompassing aristocrats, royalty and even a high-ranking Nazi visit by Hitler’s foreign minister in the 1930s.
The National Trust is one of the most important organisations in Britain. It safeguards historic properties and beautiful tracts of countryside.
The charity’s work is of particular importance in Northern Ireland, where slack planning and conservation laws have led to rampant development in the countryside.
The Trust’s states are a sanctuary on which bungalows do not get built, unlike in much of the rest of the Province where single dwellings have sprung up on every other field.
The Trust provides security to some of our most beautiful natural and built heritage against greedy and short-term development.
Its buildings, including Castle Ward and Castle Coole, are some of the most architecturally interesting houses in Northern Ireland.
The Province has a poor record in preserving some of its best architecture, with insufficient fines being levied on those who demolish listed buildings.
There have been moves to stiffen penalties for such shameful conduct, but it is taking time for that more robust approach to be applied by the courts.
The National Trust also preserves countryside such as Divis and Black Mountains, and less well known gems such as the stretch of coastline between Ballymacormick and Orlock.
It deserves recognition and support.