Northern Ireland news

Glenarm Castle runs 'click and collect' tulip festival in aid of St John's Ambulance

Lady Dunluce at Glenarm Castle. Picture by Hugh Russell

A Co Antrim stately home's annual tulip festival is its most stunning for years - but there are no visitors allowed in to see it.

"It is such a shame," said Lady Dunluce of the glorious display at Glenarm Castle.

"We've been doing the festival for around 12 years and even when the Icelandic volcano meant the florist couldn't come over with the bulbs, they still managed to send them over and we still had had a display.

"They're from Bloms Bulbs which are based in England and always have a display at the Chelsea Flower Show and have won gold medals for the last 65/66 years.

"It's frustrating because there are usually a couple of things happen - we've had terrible problems with birds and rodents getting in and eating bulbs and damaging the tulips.

"That can affect the look of the display, but this year it has just been amazing."

The estate had tried to take the tulip festival to would-be visitors, with a virtual tour via pictures on its social media pages, but finally hit on the idea of letting people take the blooms back to their own homes and raise money for charity at the same time.

"People were saying how much they miss the tulips and we're doing a non-profit food box service for those suppliers who would have stocked out the tea room that have been hit hard by by the lockdown.

"We thought, well that's part of people's essential journey, they could add in an order for bunches of tulips if they liked and all the money could go to St John's Ambulance. They are a charity that have really suffered at this time."

The bunches are priced at £10 each and £1,300 has already been raised for the charity.

People collecting food boxes queue in their cars, with the Earl of Antrim and Lady Dunluce using walkie-talkies to pass on the names for the orders so when the car drives to the pick up point their box is waiting.

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