While we were visiting in Dublin we decided to take a day trip up to Northern Ireland. Ireland is a separate country. It belongs to the U.K. with a separate currency from Ireland and everything. Perhaps you knew this already. I didn’t, well maybe I did and I was asleep that day in geography class, or maybe I was awake and it just didn’t stick because I was bored. Who knows, but that’s the thing I love about traveling is the knowledge I learn. Everything is visual and it’s so easy to remember and understand the rich history. History sticks in my brain when I travel.
Our first stop was Belfast, the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland. This is City Hall, you can walk around the entire block and even through the grounds admiring the trees and architecture. The city is bustling with activity and there are plenty of interesting pubs to stop at should you need to.
I love this cool sculpture! Named the Spirit of Belfast, it sits here at Victoria Square. Around Victoria Square is a shoppers paradise. I found my candle sticks that sit on my fireplace mantel in a store near here. I wish I could remember the name, it was such a neat store.
After Belfast we head into the country to the Dark Hedges.
The Dark Hedges are stunning tunnel of trees. These magnificent Beech trees were planted in the 18th century by the Stuart Family.
The iconic trees have been used as a filming location in Game of Thrones and are rumored to be haunted. The Dark Hedges are located about 50 miles from Belfast.
We continue driving through the countryside watching the sheep graze on the lush green grass. We see them running and frolicking about. They must have known we were watching.
We arrive at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Taking an easy hike down to the bridge, we stop frequently, taking in the panoramic views of the Atlantic.
Suspended 100 feet over sea level this rope bridge isn’t ideal for those afraid of heights, like me!
Don’t look down!
Whew, I finally make it across and the views make everything worth it. The blue green waters look so pure. The air is cool, slightly humid with a gentle breeze.
We spot sea caves and other interesting rock formations. The scenery is so beautiful you can stare forever.
Walking along the coastal trails we hear the sounds of ocean waves crashing against the rocks. Along these trails you can spot sea life such as dolphins, sharks, and seabirds.
After our hike we have a snack at the Weighbridge tea-room, then we were on the road again.
Dunluce Castle sits high up on a steep cliff by the sea. This medieval castle was built in the 1500’s and has a huge sea cave beneath.
The legend is Katherine Manners, an English lady who was married to Randal MacDonnell, was very wealthy by birth and had become accustomed to her lavish lifestyle. However, the couple had overspent in London, and in 1638, MacDonnell brought her and their children to Dunlace Castle, along with her English servants.
One night Lady Katherine held a grand party. She and her guests were suddenly disturbed from the party with a loud rumble from the back of the castle. The kitchen had plunged into the sea 100 feet below taking all of her servants along. This was supposedly the last straw for Katherine. I can’t say that I blame her.
Near Dunluce Castle is Giant’s Causeway.
During the Anglo-Spanish War in 1585, King Philip II of Spain sent the Spanish Armada to invade England, and as many as 24 ships were lost due to the storms in Northern Ireland. The La Girona smashed into the rocks near Giants Causeway. According to locals an ancient graveyard near Dunluce Castle was used as a mass grave site to give over 200 Spanish sailers who washed up on shore a Christian burial.
Around 40,000 of these basalt columns surround the coastline. They were formed during an ancient volcano eruption. These basalt column were formed by the quick cooling of lava, but according to legend it’s a different story…
A giant by the name of Finn was having trouble with a Scottish giant by the name of Benandonner threatening Ireland. Finn being unable to control his temper grabbed chunks of rock and threw them into the sea. The rock formations formed a path to teach Benandonner, who was terrifyingly large, a lesson, but he still followed looking for Finn. Finn’s clever wife disguised him as a baby. Once Benandonner got one look at their so called giant baby he decided his dad must have be massive and he leaves.
Hmm….which ever version you believe your sure to find Giants Causeway gorgeous!
Climbing up and down each unique column is certainly fun and allowed as long as you stay away from the slippery ocean edge. Brian said it reminded him of playing Q-Bert as a kid because he is a video game geek. What the heck is Q-Bert?
With the sound of peaceful waves crashing in the background we walked around and played on the rocks near the ocean.
Amazing rock formations are everywhere you look.
After this glorious day in Northern Ireland we headed back exhausted to Dublin where we enjoyed some Irish stew. I hope you enjoyed coming along with us on our adventure!