Northern Ireland

Walk on a rope bridge spanning the crashing sea to a historic fishing village? Touch trees that are over 200 years old? Climb on ‘stairs’ that Nature perfectly crafted and paints with the crashing waves?

While in Dublin, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit our ancestral lands in Northern Ireland.  We toured with Finn McCool’s,  journeying north to the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and The Dark Hedges.  I honestly don’t know what impact Brexit has upon border crossing, but we had no issues moving freely because of Schengen; Brexit (and COVID-19) may have changed this.  I should also say that we did NOT engage in any genealogy searches while there: our goal was to experience the area our ancestors lived in and farmed.  Meeting distant relatives and the delights of discovering old family records is for another trip. 

Our first stop was Carrick-a-Rede.  This island, once a reliable source of fish, has suffered from declines due to pollution and more sea fishing, and it is no longer viable for fishing.  Fishermen first constructed the bridge in 1755 to provide an alternative to boat transport.  I was a wee bit anxious about the rope bridge – something about being 100 feet (30m) above the rocks on a bridge almost 250 years old was alarming for me.  The weather was not cooperative, it was pouring rain, and just after I talked myself into crossing the bridge, I realized there was only one way back.  The view is plenty worth the many steps, though, and a bit of anxiety 😊. 

Giant’s Causeway – our next stop — is scientifically the result of volcanic eruptions with hexagonally shaped and interlocking basalt columns rising as tall as 39 feet/12m and as round as 92 feet/28m.  The legend behind it is less scientific, but more entertaining.  Finn McCool, after challenging the Scottish giant Benandonner to a duel, built the causeway for the two to meet in competition.  After seeing exactly how large Benandonner was, Finn disguised himself as a baby with the help of his wife.  The trick fooled Benandonner, and he fled, thinking the father Finn must be very much larger than the baby.  In reality, the columns soar, forming cliffs above the salty sea.  The sea, in return, paints the columns with different colors, and the contrasts are simply stunning. 

Game of Thrones fans will recognize several sights along the tour.  First are the remnants of an old castle, now too dangerous to enter as parts have collapsed over the sides of the cliffs. 

Then on to the Dark Hedges, a road flanked by beech trees planted by the Stuart family two centuries ago.  This is one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland, and the fact that it is difficult to photograph the drive without other people attests to its popularity.  Unfortunately, that has also led to carving and defacing of the trees, causing a form of disease that kills them.  The Northern Irish have turned several of the dead and fallen trees into magnificently carved doors depicting scenes from the popular cable television show and offer a tour and passport to visit them all.  Despite the exquisite artwork of the doors, PLEASE, PLEASE, admire the trees’ beauty without carving into their bark ☹.

Our last tour stop was a few hours in Belfast with an opportunity to explore the town, do some shopping, and have a nosh.  I took the opportunity to visit some boutique shops and stock up on Irish wool.  A woman’s yarn stash is NEVER too big for some hand-spun, hand-dyed artisan wool.  After adding to my inventory, it was on to the ‘nosh’ part – which in late afternoon means happy hour 😊.  So we ducked into The Dirty Onion  (again with spectacular pub names!) for a beer and an Irish Coffee.

All in all, this was a full day.  And by full day, I mean this was a 12-13 tour round trip from Dublin.  And yet, again, there is so much we didn’t get to see and experience (and research), that I am eager to go back! 

Been to Northern Ireland?  Have a great memory and experience?  Please share it with us!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Reliving Dublin: Part I

Reliving Dublin the Redux: Part II

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Essi says:

    Even on a rainy day, and perhaps because of it, everything looks refreshingly green!


  2. Thanks, Essi! I hope you enjoy it even more when you travel there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.