I have written about the Republic of Ireland, so it is only fitting that I also write about some of the great things about Northern Ireland! As some may or may not know, Northern Ireland has some important differences from the Republic of Ireland: Northern Ireland is a part of the U.K. whereas the Republic is an independent nation, there are 2 different currencies: euros for the Republic, and British pounds (sterling) for the North, “In the Republic of Ireland all speed limits on road signs are indicated in kilometers per hour. In Northern Ireland, speed limits are indicated in miles per hour — watch out for this.” (www.chooseireland.com). Other than these differences, and some political and religious ones (Catholics/Protestant), Ireland is the same. The people are friendly and welcoming, there’s great Guinness, awesome pubs, beautiful scenery, and fun craic to be had! There are a few major sights in the North that I do feel should be on anyone’s list to see when going to Ireland.
The Giant’s Causeway
This is an unusual natural sight, made from lava rock basalt formations. But the folklore and stories about it are so much better than the history! The folklore says that there was a giant Finn Mac Cumhaill (Cool) and his wife Una that lived in a castle by the sea in Antrim. One day Finn decided to build a bridge (or causeway) from Antrim to Scotland. It was made from black stones of all different sizes, with all different sides. After a hard day’s work, a messenger came from Scotland bringing a challenge from a giant named Angus. Finn immediately accepted the challenge. After the messenger had left, Una looked worried, and Finn asked what was troubling her. She said that she had heard that Angus was much bigger and stronger than Finn. Finn replied that may be, but he was more clever. Together they thought up a plan. For the next two days Una snipped and sewed, while Finn made a large wooden cradle. The day of the duel had arrived. Finn got dressed in the baby clothes that Una had made for him and climbed into the enormous cradle. The ground shook beneath Angus’ steps. He was met at the door by Una, she welcomed him in. She told him that Finn was out hunting at the moment, but that she would appreciate it if he would try to keep the noise down as she just got the baby to sleep. Angus looked over at the cradle, he was shocked by such an enormous baby. Angus asked if that was Finn’s baby. Una answered “Yes, we are very proud of him. Even though he’s rather small for his age, but we hope he’ll grow up to be at least as big as his father.” Angus became very frightened, because if this was Finn’s baby, then how big was Finn?! Angus rushed out of the castle, across the causeway, tearing it up behind him so that Finn couldn’t follow him home. Only a few stones are left today of the giant’s causeway, some on the Antrim coast and some in Scotland. At the giant’s causeway you can also see Granny Mac Cumhaill, Finn’s camel, the giant’s boot, the pipe organ, among others. Along with the giant’s causeway, the Antrim coast has some breathtaking countryside along it’s coastal route that should be enjoyed while visiting.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Near the Giant’s Causeway, suspended almost 100 ft above sea level, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen 350 years ago. If you cross the 65 ft bridge, stretching from the mainland to Rocky Island, you will be rewarded with some fantastic views. Plus this is just a lot of fun! And it is actually very safe, held in place by metal cables. We even jumped on it to get it moving! This is one of those things I feel like everyone that’s in the area should do at least once. Plus it’s close enough to the Giant’s Causeway, that you can do both in the same day with time for another site/activity if you want.
This is a lovely little town near the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It’s location makes it a perfect place to stay if you’re taking a few days to see the Antrim coast from Dublin. There are nice fish and chips shops, beautiful countrysides, and my favorite: the planetarium. I will add that the planetarium is not super thrilling, but more of a nice visit at the end of long day of travel. Something neat to pass a few hours until dinner when you don’t want to leave town kind of thing. The best part of the planetarium was the digital theater that plays different shows on their round ceiling, very cool! They also have some interesting artwork and displays. The town itself is pretty quiet, which can be a welcomed break from a big city!
I chose not to see Belfast, just out of personal interest. I didn’t feel that if had anything that I couldn’t find elsewhere. But for many it is a must, so to each their own and perhaps it is a good choice for some. It does offer some great sites for Titanic fans. Another big choice in the North would be Londonderry, in County Down. I would rather spend my time on a nice beach collecting seashells instead. Another add-on to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede would be a stop at the smallest church in Ireland. It is privately owned and family run, and an interesting stop while in the area. But these are all options, and only a few of many.
I cannot list all of the great things that Ireland has to offer, I can only tell about the ones that I have personally seen and/or done. These were some that still stick in my mind and that touched my heart. I hope this helps those who need the inspiration or guidance in making their choices for their own trip.
“Ireland hosts a rowdy breed, but that’s why it feels like home.”– Jody Queen
P.S. If you like this post, be sure to check out my other posts about Ireland: