Sion Stables | Sion Mills, in Northern Ireland

Sion Stables | Sion Mills, Northern Ireland

Updated On: April 18, 2024 by   Ahmed SamirAhmed Samir

Northern Ireland is a land steeped in history and culture, with its picturesque landscapes and charming villages offering a window into the past. One such gem that captures the essence of this region’s heritage is Sion Stables in Sion Mills. This historic site, located in the heart of County Tyrone, has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century and offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the beauty and tradition of Northern Ireland.

The Rise of Sion Mills

The story of Sion Mills begins in the early 19th century when the prominent and enterprising local Herdman family established a linen manufacturing industry in the area. The Herdmans, originally from Scotland, recognized the potential of the River Mourne as a source of power for their mills. They constructed a state-of-the-art complex with a spinning mill, weaving sheds, and worker housing.

Sion Mills quickly became a thriving industrial village, attracting skilled workers from all over Ireland and beyond. The village was meticulously planned and designed with the welfare of its workers in mind, setting a high standard for worker conditions in the 19th century.

The Herdmans were not just industrialists; they were also philanthropists. They provided their employees with various amenities, including housing, healthcare, and educational facilities. The village’s well-preserved Georgian and Victorian architecture is a testament to their commitment to creating a comfortable and thriving community.

The Stables at Sion Mills

One of the standout features of Sion Mills is the beautifully preserved stables initially built to house the horses used in the linen industry. The stables, designed by the renowned architect William Lynn, are a fine example of Georgian architecture. They are characterized by their symmetrical layout, grand façade, and elegant proportions.

The stables served a vital role in the day-to-day operations of the village. Horses were used to transport raw materials, such as flax and coal, to the mills and to deliver finished products to markets across Ireland and abroad. The Herdmans’ commitment to excellence extended to their stables, where the horses were cared for with the same attention to detail as their human workers.

Preservation and Restoration of Sion Stables

There has been a renewed interest in preserving and celebrating Northern Ireland‘s industrial heritage in recent years, and Sion Mills is no exception. The village’s stables and other historic buildings have undergone extensive restoration to ensure their continued existence and showcase their historical significance.

The restoration work at Sion Stables is a testament to the dedication of the local community and heritage organizations. With meticulous attention to detail, the stables have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Today, they stand as a living museum, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the history and heritage of Sion Mills.

Visitor Experience

Sion Stables offers a wide range of experiences for visitors looking to explore the history and heritage of the area. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a tranquil and scenic escape, Sion Stables has something to offer.

  1. Guided Tours: Visitors can join guided tours that take them through the stables and provide insights into the history of Sion Mills. Knowledgeable guides share stories about the Herdman family, the village’s industrial past, and the significance of the stables.
  2. Heritage Exhibitions: Sion Stables hosts various heritage exhibitions that showcase the history of the village and the linen industry. These exhibitions feature artefacts, photographs, and documents that bring the past to life.
  3. Café and Gift Shop: After exploring the stables, visitors can relax in the on-site café, which offers a selection of delicious locally sourced food and beverages. The gift shop lets you take home a piece of Sion Mills with a range of unique souvenirs.
  4. Events and Workshops: Sion Stables frequently hosts events, workshops, and educational programs for adults and children. These events cover the village’s history, culture, and heritage.
  5. Scenic Surroundings: The village of Sion Mills is set amidst picturesque landscapes, with the River Mourne meandering nearby. Visitors can take leisurely walks along the riverbank or explore the charming streets of the village, admiring its well-preserved architecture.

Community Involvement

The restoration and preservation of Sion Stables have been a collaborative effort between local authorities, heritage organisations, and the community. The village’s residents have played an active role in revitalising Sion Mills, and their dedication to preserving their heritage is evident in the meticulous care taken to maintain the historic buildings and the surrounding environment.

The sense of community in Sion Mills is palpable, and visitors often remark on the warm welcome they receive from the locals. The village’s close-knit atmosphere adds to the overall charm of the experience and underscores the importance of preserving the area’s heritage for future generations.

Exploring Sion Mills

Sion Mills offers a range of attractions and activities beyond the historic stables. Here are some additional highlights to explore during your visit:

  1. The Herdman’s House: This elegant Georgian residence was once the home of the Herdman family, the founders of Sion Mills. Today, it serves as an arts and cultural centre, hosting exhibitions, workshops, and events celebrating local arts and heritage.
  2. The River Mourne: The village is nestled along the scenic River Mourne, providing opportunities for leisurely walks, picnics, and the tranquil natural surroundings. The river is also known for its angling, attracting fishing enthusiasts.
  3. Faughan Valley Golf Club: Just a short drive from Sion Mills, the Faughan Valley Golf Club offers a picturesque 18-hole golf course surrounded by stunning landscapes. It’s an ideal spot for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy a round of golf.
  4. Local Pubs and Eateries: Sion Mills has charming local pubs and restaurants where you can savour traditional Northern Irish cuisine and enjoy a pint of Guinness. These establishments often host live music sessions, providing a taste of local culture.
  5. Walking and Hiking Trails: The village is an excellent starting point for exploring the surrounding countryside. Numerous walking and hiking trails cater to all fitness levels, offering breathtaking landscape views.
  6. Sion Community Park: This park offers a peaceful setting with lush greenery, a children’s playground, and scenic spots for a family picnic. It’s an excellent place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.
  7. Local Craft and Artisan Shops: Sion Mills is home to craft and artisan shops where you can browse and purchase handmade goods, including pottery, textiles, and jewellery, crafted by local artists and artisans.
  8. Historic Landmarks: Besides the stables, you’ll find other historic landmarks, such as the former workers’ cottages and the village square. These provide insight into the architectural and social history of Sion Mills.
  9. Seasonal Festivals and Events: Check the local calendar for seasonal festivals or events during your visit. These can include cultural festivals, craft fairs, and music events that showcase the vibrant community spirit of Sion Mills.
  10. Heritage Trails: Consider exploring heritage trails or guided tours that take you on a journey through the village, offering fascinating insights into its history, culture, and the lives of its inhabitants over the years.

Sion Mills offers a blend of historical charm and natural beauty, making it an attractive destination for those interested in Northern Ireland’s heritage and outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in history and nature or simply enjoying the ambience of a traditional Irish village, Sion Mills has something to offer every visitor.

Plan Your Visit

If you plan to visit Northern Ireland, Sion Stables in Sion Mills is a must-see destination. The site is easily accessible by car and is just a short drive from Derry/Londonderry and Omagh. It offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the history and culture of Northern Ireland while enjoying the stunning natural beauty of the region.

Sion Stables is open to visitors throughout the year, with seasonal variations in opening hours. It’s advisable to check the official website or contact it directly for the most up-to-date information on opening times and admission fees.


Sion Stables in Sion Mills, Northern Ireland, is a hidden gem that encapsulates the rich history and heritage of the region. Its beautifully restored stables, guided tours, heritage exhibitions, and warm and welcoming community offer a unique and immersive experience for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a lover of architecture, or simply seeking a tranquil escape amid nature, Sion Stables is a destination that should be noticed on your journey through Northern Ireland.


Can I explore the surrounding countryside from Sion Mills?

Yes, Sion Mills serves as an excellent base for exploring the beautiful countryside of County Tyrone. There are various walking and hiking trails in the area, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Northern Ireland.

Are guided tours available, and are they recommended?

Yes, guided tours are available at Sion Stables and are highly recommended. Knowledgeable guides provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the stables and the village. They can enhance your overall experience and help you appreciate the site’s historical context.

Is Sion Mills a popular tourist destination in Northern Ireland?

Sion Mills may not be as well-known as other tourist spots in Northern Ireland. Still, it has been gaining recognition for its rich history and heritage, making it an appealing destination for travellers seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience.

Is photography allowed at Sion Stables and in the village?

Photography is typically allowed in Sion Stables and throughout the village. However, it’s a good practice to respect any specific rules or requests regarding photography, especially in areas with historical artefacts or private properties.