White Park Bay, Northern Ireland
Right off the Coastal Causeway route most infamous for the Giant's Causeway, is a beautiful white sandy beach nestled between two headlands on the North Antrim coast forming a white arc in a very secluded location. My first visit was obsessed with ideas of coming back to this spot and settling into the youth hostel that overlooks this bay, and finding solitude to write and write. Even on busy days, this beach is quoted to be spacious and quiet. Backed by ancien dunes providing rich habitats for animal and bird life, it is a piece of hidden paradise. It is managed by the National Trust and donated by the Youth Hostel Association of Northern Ireland in 1938. It is one of North Ireland's most painted and photographed beaches. Can be reached by train service from Belfast or Londonderry to Coleraine. By bus - Ulsterbus #218 from Belfast to Portstewart. By cycle or car via the NCN route 93 that runs past the strand. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
- Road Trip
Near the Giant's Causeway, on an isolated rock surrounded by the sea in a small bay, is the crumbling remains of "Dunseverick Castle". A maritime fortress of Dalriada, built by Sovaric, son of Eberic mythically in the year of the world 3668 a.m. once off the royal road from Tara, and once of the seats of the Kings of Ireland. It was stormed in 870 C.E. and then plundered again by Mave, the QUeen of Connaught at a uncertain date, starting a bloody war between Ulster and Connaught. When the castle was in the hands of Kinel Owen, in the 12th century, another disaster struck. When Turlough of Dunseverick returned from the Crusades, the castle was ransacked and massacred by Norwegian ships sparing only Lady O'Cahan, sister of Turlough. This beautiful young girl with dark hair and blue eyes, won the heart of the Norsemen, sparing her, and wedding him until the Norseman was slain by Turlough. The melee between the Norseman and Turlough caused the castle to catch fire, and the bride to plunge to her death off the cliffs resulting in the castle falling into ruins.
"And the villagers of olden times oft heard the wailing cry
Of the Norseman and brave young Turlough when waves were running high,
And old Dunseveric, gaunt and bare, has no sadder tale of woe
Recorded in its annals of the years of long ago."
The castle was later made the family residence of the O'Cahan family who were branched from the Kinel Owens, from about 1000 C.E. until 1320, regained again by the family in the mid 16th century. Was in the family hands until the 1641 rebellion when chief Gilladuff O'Cahan was taken by General Munro and hanged at Carrickfergus years after the rebellion. Munro destroyed all the castles in the area along the coast except Dunluce where he garrisoned English soldiers for the Cromwellian army. By 1662 most of Dunseverick was demolished except a piece of wall at the entrance six feet thick which his men were unable to remove. On the north side of the castle, is a well about three yards from the edge of he cliff, over 100' above the sea, that legendarily "Never goes dry". It is named the "Tubber Phadrick" or "St. Patrick's Well" and was considered one of Ireland's holiest wells as St. Patrick visited Dunseverick on several of his travels through the North. St. Patrick used to sit on a stone located by the well, named "St. Patrick's Rock", but this stone was tumbled into the well by General Munro's soldiers. Last to own and reside in the castle was Giolla Dubh O Cathain who left it in 1657. Now in ruins, only a small residential tower survived until 1978 until taken by the sea. Now just ruins of the walls remain. The castle is located in County Antrim near the small village of Dunseverick and about a mile and a half from the Giant's Causeway. Now part of the National Trust (1962) as passed on by local farmer Jack McCurdy.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
The Giant's Causeway
Tied into the legendary faerie lore with being created by Finn Mac Cool as a causeway to walk between Ireland and Scotland, the area is rich in myths and legends. A World Heritage site (UNESCO 1986), operated by the National Trust, the Giant's Causeway consists of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were caused by the result of a ancient volcanic eruption 50-60 million years ago. Intense volcanic activity caused highly fluid molten basalt to intrude through the chalk beds forming an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled quickly, contraction began with some in vertical directions that reduced the flow thickness, and horizontal contraction that was accommodated by cracking through the flow varying by lava speed forming the columns. In the heart of County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, the site is not very far from the infamous village of Bushmills. The site was discovered in 1693. It is considered to be the fourth natural wonder in the United Kingdom. Each of the hexagonal columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot onward into the sea where they surface again into Scotland. Some of the columns reach heights upwards of 36 feet high. Most of the columns are hexagonal, though some have four, five, seven, and eight sides. Areas of solidified lava in the cliffs are up to 28 meters thick in some places. The area is infamous for the columns, stepping stones, myths, legends, the Giant's Boot, and the Organ, the Giant's Eyes, the Shepherd's Steps, the Honeycomb, the Giant's Harp, the Chimney Stacks, the Giant's Gate, the Camel's Hump, as well as a panoramic seaside view and beaches. Rating 5 stars out of 5.
- National/State Park