A full proof traveler’s guide to emerald isle Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is also known as Ulster. The Mystical Northern Ireland is captivating and hauntingly beautiful with its remarkable culture and history. Northern Ireland is dark and dramatic. Northern Ireland is the land of gnomes, fairies, leprechauns, banshees, ghosts, giants, and medieval sagas. It has a melancholic vibe to it. There are numerous inns, taverns, ramparts, turrets, castles and coastal hamlets along the coastal route of Northern Ireland. The magnificent ruins are precariously transcendental. Medieval Ireland is filled with folklore and fables. Northern Ireland is made of counties namely County Antrim, County Down, County Armagh, County Tyrone, County Derry and County Fermanagh.
On the entire route to Ireland one would frequently encounter drivers waving at you and you have to wake back because it is an Irish driving etiquette. Ireland is well known for its craft beer and a visit in the pubs of the Irish towns is a must do.
Titanic Belfast located close to the city Airport will have you in grips with the actual messages that were sent from the Titanic ‘ship that couldn’t sink’ post it hit the iceberg.
Causeway Coastal route:
Causeway Coastal Route is a UNESCO world heritage site within a short drive from Belfast via the Antrim Coast Road. The route from Belfast to Londonderry is gaunt spectacle. The route is 120 miles and 190 kilometres long. It links ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ and “Mourne Scenic route’ from Londonderry to Belfast and vice versa. The Emerald Isle, the Belfast Lough, Carrickfergus, the Antrim Coast, The Dark Hedges, The Giant’s Causeway, Newtownabbey, Larne, Glenarm Castle home to the Earls of Antrim, Carnlough,
Glenarrif Forest tower, Cushendun Caves, Ballypatrick Forest, Cushendall, Ballycastle, Rathlin Island, Dunluce Castle, Carrick-a-Rede, Portrush, Ballintoy, Coleraine, Mountsandel Fort, Mussenden temple, Binevenagh Mountain, Limavady town, Roe Valley Country Park and Old Bushmills Distillery are the main stops of the Causeway Coastal Route. A meal of the Irish stew served with Irish wheaten bread is a must try while on this route.
The historic port of Galway, The Great Western Greenway and The Wild Atlantic Way are must-stop destinations in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with Galway housing quintessential Irish pubs. The entire city can be walked across in less than an hour.
Great Western Greenway and Giant’s Causeway:
The Great Western Greenway is a 42-km-long walking and cycling trail covers the distance between Westport and Achill. Northern Ireland is home to hexagonal stones of Slieve League Clifss at the Giant’s Causeway.
It is an area of resultant of volcanic eruption of about 40,000 hexagonal and polygonal interlocking basalt columns. It is located in the county of Antrim. The Basalt antiquity of the strata and rugged cliffs along the coast of the edge of the Antrim plateau are a geological miracle. It is also the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Northern Ireland.
The legend of the Gaelic mythology of the Myth of Finn on the Scottish Isle has its history around the place as a twin at Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. Some of the structures that are formed because of weathering and displacement of basalt boulders is Organ, Giant’s boot structures, Giants Eyes, The Giant’s gate, the Wishing Seat among others. Sea birds like fulmar, petrel and razorbill hover nearby rock formations. The Atlantic waves, secluded bays and the headland make for a great landscape.
The Glens of Antrim:
The nine Glens is a major Neolithic questioning tourist attraction in the north Antrim on various settlements with the wild beauty of skirting trails, grasslands, shorelines, mountain uplands, native woodlands, moorlands, moss, marshlands, riverside and sheer gorges with the tracks of fuchsia and honeysuckle. The glacier wrested valleys are formed of black basalt lava and white chalk. The Glens are
Glentaisie: Damp Valley
Glenarm: Glen of the army
Glenshesk: Barren Valley
Glendun: Brown Glen
Glencorp: Glen of the body
Glenaan: Glen of the dead
Glenballyeamon: Glen of the town
Glenariff: Glen of the till
Glencloy: Glen of the blade
The plateau from Glenariff, Ballycastle, Cushendun and Glenarm is the most scenic along the coast from Larne on thbe Ulster way.
The Glenarm Castle Walled Garden is in a sea setting with castle views, seas and the estates with a 19th century mushroom house serving fine dining full course meals and homemade cream teas.
The Titanic Belfast:
In the city’s Titanic Quarter is the structure of Belfast’s maritime heritage steeping into the history of the world’s largest Titanic sightseeing hotspot. The story of Titanic since its conception, maiden voyage, subsequent aftermath and tragic ending is weaved around in the heart of the Belfast. The building is in the shape of an iceberg with the facades and atrium coated with silver shards and interactive galleries
with dimensions called the boomtown Belfast, The Shipyard, the launch, the fit-out, The maiden voyage, the sinking, the Aftermath, Myths and Legends and Titanic Beneath. The shipyard, cabin, interiors, promenade, slipways, the decks and original star line artefacts are displayed with special effects, computer generated imagery and reconstructions portraying the discoveries around the wreckage. The Discovery tour, Wee tram tours, Segway guided tours, boat and walking tours can be taken here.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge:
Carrick-e-Rede Rope Bridge is 100 feet above the sea connecting the Carrick Island and the County Antrim Mainland for around 350 years spanning over Rathlin Island with views of caves and caverns. This is a rope bridge near Ballintoy, Antrim and Northern Ireland linking the main land to the tiny island of Carrickarede along the coastal footpath which means rock of the casting. It has exceptional vies of Rathlin Island and Scotland. It is a volcanic plug with the vantage point to vegetation and wildlife around it.
Fulmars, sharks, dolphins, porpoises, seabirds, kittywakes, guillemots and razorbills are a common sight here. The rope bridge connects the rocky island to the nearest cliffs. The coastal walking trail along the rope bridge is an experience of the life time on the Ulster Way. A long time Salmon Fishery has been undertaken at this very spot spanning the chasm with steeped inclines. It is also considered to be one of the world’s scariest bridges.
Grand Opera House Belfast:
This theatre in the Northern Ireland is the surviving example of Victorian oriental style in theatre architecture. This premier theatre is located in the city centre amidst the hustle and bustle of the Northern Ireland. Performances range from jazz, folk, ballet, opera, musicals and Symphony here. The Grand Auditorium is constructed in Victorian style by the renowned architect Frank Matcham.
These are the granite mountain peaks and tors in the Down county of Northern Ireland. Mourne is within the traveling distance of Belfast and Dublin. Activities like hillwalking, sailing, fishing, rock climbing, mountain boarding, mountain biking, bouldering, horse riding, wet bouldering, sea kayaking and cycling are done in here. Some of the ranges in here have the most unusual names like Pigeon rock, Brandy pad, Buzzard’s Roost, the Cock and Hen, The Devil’s Coach Road, Percy Bysshe, Slieve which means mountain which consists Slieve Donard, Slieve Lamagan, Slieve Corragh, Slieve Baearnagh,
Slieve Binnian and Pollaphuca which means hole of the fairies or sprites with medieval folklore behind them and are also visible from Dublin and British Isles. Bird watching can be done here exquisitely with common sights of snipe, stonechat, grey wagtail, meadow pipit, buzzard, wren, raven and peregrine falcon. The ranges are favourable for hiking with the Mourne dry stone wall being the navigation aid. The magical world of Narnia is around Mourne ranges. The Mourne way walk is a 26 mile off road walk on foot and is a must do. The silent Valley beneath the mountain’s foot is a spectacle. The Mourne coastal route from Belfast to Newry passes through Mourne landscape. The climb from Bloody Bridge Newcastle gives you breath taking views of the Isle of Man and Strangford Lough. The Ulster delicacy of eel is a must try.
This Norman castle is situated in Carrickfergus in County Antrim. It is a well-protected medieval structure in Northern Ireland in the northern shore of Belfast Lough. It houses historical displays of cannons from the 17th, 18th and 19th century which were used as castle defences. It was imposingly besieged by the English, French, Scots and Irish and so was strategically important with immense stronghold because of its unique construction. It was earlier coined by the name Dun-so-barky which meant strong rock or hill. It had been used as an air raid pad, prison, armoury, combative stronghold and citadel during prominent wars like World War.
Belfast city hall:
It is a civic building in the baroque revival style out of Portland stone and it is a copper domed building. It is one of the most iconic buildings in the Donegall square in the city centre. It has been referred to as “Stone Titanic” for its lavish fittings and fixtures in the past. Free guided tours can be conducted in the precincts of this memorial. It had been inaugurated to celebrate the status of Belfast as a standalone city by Queen Victoria being the kind of landmark it is. It is carved out of different kinds of marble such as Brescia, Carrara and Pavonazzo making it grandeur. The city hall is known as the Wedding cake on account of the tiers of the building. The artworks, anterior, statues and stained glass windows are valuable treasures.
This Scottish Baronial style castle since the times of the Victorian Belfast is nestled at 400 feet above sea level in the slopes of Cavehill and gives traversable views of the city of Belfast and Belfast Lough from different vantage points. The Belfast Castle estate id the landmark of the city and has a popular feature called the Napoleon’s nose. This archaeological site conducts walking trails, eco trails and orienteering trails around it. The castle has camouflaged woodlands and parklands and the rarest of the foliage in the city. Long eared Owls and Sparrowhawks are quite a rare sight here. The tea of the Castle Tavern is a must try. The Cellars of the Castle have paved ‘Streets’ with a Cellar Antique Boutique and the Castle Tavern.
The stretch of Dublin Road, Howard Street, Great Victoria Street, Bradbury Palace, Shaftesbury and Bedford Street is the arrowhead shaped street called Golden Mile and is also the fabled part of the city. With the iconic landmarks of the noteworthy past glories this spot is a weekender’s haven for it is a leisurely thoroughfare for the diners, drinkers and the shoppers. The Crown Liquor Saloon reminding of the Ornate Victorian times is a must visit. The Murals of the Belfast are a must see. Filthy McNastys, Harper boutiques, Grand Opera House and Laverys are must visits.
This regal castle in the grounds of Castle Park in the Down County is home to Ards and North Down Borough Council used for music recitals has steep gables with finials, crenellations, transversal and angular windows, alcoves and oriels crested with strap-work, manorial houses, pyramidal roofed clock turret and covered quoins with the redeeming qualities of Elizabethan Jacobean revival style of architecture carved out of limestone attached to an abbey with steeply pitched roofs with the views of Belfast Lough from its grounds. The castle park, Aurora Water complex and walled gardens filled with evergreens and flower beds of blooms are a must see.
This L-shaped island with the Romanesque, Megalithic, Gaelic and Gothic ruins is a hilly island located in a hill slope in Lough Erne of the Farmanagh county with one of the finest parish monastic sites, oratory, gravestones, sites of worship of the Druids, Irish round towers with beaded cornices, internal ladders, scattered stones, stoneroofs, wooden shingles, cross slabs, bell storey windows, cloisters,
mediaeval carved cross, stone hooks with leather satchels containing reliquaries and low earthworks on the hillside. The relics of book shrine sans the gospel are preserved in the Republic of Ireland National Museum. It had been raided by the Vikings in the past and has been refurbished as a parish church site and St Mary’s Augustine priory, bishops, dioceses, parishes and reformed monasteries. A commercial boat tour from Enniskillen to this archaic island is a must do.
Dunluce Castle is an Irish castle and a defended site from at least 500 AD with castle ruins replete with secrets and ghost stories even in the present times. This medieval castle with walled gardens on the rugged basalt coastal cliffs of County Antrim has consolidated medieval folklore attached to it and is accessible through a bridge connecting it to the mainland. It bears witness to the longstanding era of rebellion as it dates back to 14th century. It was the seat of the Earls of the County Antrim in 17th century. Archaeological ruins of the cobbled streets, a barn with a massive oak roof and stone merchant’s houses of the long abandoned Dunluce town can still be found. Dunluce castle has been prominent in the history of the McDonnells of Antrim and North East Ulster as it was the main base when Mcdonnell arrived here to form an association of Ireland and Scotland. The Mcdonnells moved into Glenarm castle later. The castle has been besieged by the English very often. It has spectacular views of the Causeway Coastal route on your way to Giant’s Causeway, Donegal and Island of Islay.
The Irish coastal and fishing village originally built around a single street between Ballycastle and Giant’s Causeway of Ballintoy has a harbour known as a “raised beach” with a well-built lime kiln in the company of orchids, albatross, ringed plover, meadow pipit, song thrush, linnet, skylarks, Spring Fulmars and Warbler grasshoppers that stands as a testament of the times gone by. In the past the harbour was extensively used for shipping of sett stones and limestone to the quayside that paved the likes of the cities Dublin, Cork, Wexford, Limerick and Glasgow. It is protected by the scores of volcanic basalt islands and
sedimentary limestone blocks from the often raging Atlantic storms at the Park End near White Park Bay. The habor opens to Sheep Island, Island of Islay, Boheeshane Bay, Larry Bane Head, Rathlin and Scotland. Ballintoy Parish Church is on a hill on the winding road down the harbour. Portbraddon located along Causeway Coast is an idyllic hamlet located on its east end. The last big rock Rock-an-Stewart is a scene of tragedy and mighty rescue. Natural basalt arches exist close to Whitepark bay at the Ballintoy end and Gid Point. The coastal area of Ballintoy is a topic of intrigue for geologists which runs down Knocksaughey hill passing by the entrance to Larrybane and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Walled City Londonderry:
This is the second largest walled city of Northern Ireland lies on the bank of River Foyle. Usually colloquially known as Londonderry, Derry means oak grave. The bank of Cityside is to its wear and Waterside is on the east. Derry is close to Donegal County. Derry is the only remaining completely intact walled city and also was the last walled city to be built in the British Isles. The walled city is constructed in Renaissance style street plan. The Original gates to the Walled city are Bishop’s gate, Ferryquay gate, Butcher gate and Shipquay gate.
The city is nicknamed as “the Maiden city” with its fortifications intact and never breached. St Eugene’s Cathedral, Bishop Street Courthouse, Long tower church, St Columb’s Cathedral, St Augustine’s church, The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, The Bogside, Derry Craft Village, Free Derry Corner, Bloody Sunday, The Troubles Murals of Derry, Peace Bridge, Creggan Country Park and the Foyle and Craigavon bridges are some of its iconic landmarks. All the erections in the walled city of Derry are of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian style of architecture keeping up with the gridlines of the main thoroughfare. Londonderry has the largest collection of cannons restored and well preserved. Magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate were constructed later.
Old Bush mills Distillery:
Bushmills is the oldest working licensed distillery dating from 1608. It produces triple-distilled Irish whiskey. A whiskey tasting session is a must do in this institution. It is located near the Irish Sea, 97 kilometres northwest of Belfast. This is a haven for the aficionados of Liquid Gold whiskey and alcoholic malt drink in the barn of the Ireland’s oldest working distillery and also the oldest distillery in the world and has an in-house while the entry is free. The round guided tour tasting to the distillery includes learning about the history of whiskey in Ireland, distilling the whiskey in the mash house, still house, bottling hall tastings of the smooth whiskeys ready to be washed down with innovative mixing rooms where water and malted barley, personal making of Bushmills whiskey, blending lounge and bottling plants. The whiskey is fermented and matured in the caskets with water drawn from Saint Columb’s Rill of River Bush. Vintage Bushmills whiskey and single malt whiskey are a must try.
Ireland is the North Atlantic Island with filing locations of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia and the most popular Game of Thrones. Add in Northern Ireland.
September 14, 2018
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