Fun things to do in Northern Ireland

  • Che Guevara mural
    Che Guevara mural
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    Exterior
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  • Peace wall, with murals
    Peace wall, with murals
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Northern Ireland

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    Ulster Transport Museum

    by Drever Written Jun 4, 2014

    Ulster Transport Museum covers everything from carriages to cars to fighter planes, as well as the definitive exhibition on the Titanic. The multitude transport items on display actually made in Belfast itself is astonishing.

    The story of transport in Ireland on a country-wide scale began in 1710 with the Post Office running mail coaches along the routes linking towns. Private operators adding to the routes led to a permanent road network. Some canal building also occurred and in 1779 to the first 12-mile section of the Grand Canal opening. By 1815 passenger-carrying horse-car services set up regular services in the south of Ireland, the first of many to follow.

    Nothing, however, beats the snorting, puffing glamour of a steam train breathing and exhaling steam. The museum’s Irish Railway Collection tells the story of over 150 years of railway development. Rail transport in Ireland began a decade later than that of Great Britain. By its peak it extended to 3,400 miles of track with about half remaining.

    Steam locomotives, passenger carriages and goods wagons combine in the museum with extensive railway memorabilia and interactive displays. These include an award-winning computer game. One of the collection's main attractions is Maedb, the largest and most powerful steam locomotive built and run in Ireland. Clambering up on its footplate, the simple controls and the meagre view down each side of the engine surprised me.

    Alongside the Irish Railway Collection are the Road Transport Galleries, which contains a large collection of transport ranging from cycles and motorcycles, to trams, buses, and cars. One of its most famous attractions is a De Lorean DMC-12 car made by the De Lorean Motor Company in Belfast - made famous by the Back to the Future trilogy.

    The museum boasts a moving section on the luxury liner the Titanic, designed and built in the Harland and Wolff shipyards, just a few miles from the museum. The exhibition documents the construction, voyage, and sinking of the ill-fated vessel on her first voyage, in 1912, killing 1,500 of the passengers and crew.

    A modern exhibition is the X2: Flight Experience. It enables young visitors to discover for themselves the principles of flight, explore the history of aviation, and understand the science of making a successful aircraft. Also on display at the museum is the Short's of Belfast produced SC1, a prototype vertical take-off aeroplane. Principles learned from it led to the building of the Harrier jump jet one of the most successful planes in aviation history.

    Attractions in the grounds themselves include a model railway run by the Model Engineers Society of Northern Ireland, and the 120 ton steel schooner Result.

    Great Southern Railways locomotive Fire engine horse drawn transport de lorean car with gull-wing doors Vertical take off plane by Shorts, Belfast
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    Ulster Folk Museum

    by Drever Written Jun 3, 2014

    Ulster’s Folk Museum, a 15-minute drives from Belfast, presents a bye gone simpler world where villages are self-contained and have close social cohesion. Reassembled and preserved in its open-plan village are historic churches, bakeries, a bank, a printing shop, a sheriff's office, a basket maker’s shop, a tobacconist, and a general store. To complete the picture they contain furniture and decorations for their time period and are populated by people in period costumes who demonstrate and answer questions. We wandered in and out of the buildings, picked up and touched items and got a feel for the past - an ideal educational experience for the young as well as oldies like us.

    The village includes a traditional weaver's house, terraces of Victorian town houses, two 18th-century country churches one with the original tombstones - though not the bodies! Also the village contains a flax mill, a farmhouse, and a rural school and a print shop. Some cottages evoke nostalgia, especially when we saw the delicately carved cribs and beautiful quilts - others are bare and cramped. The labourers cottages, have only two bedrooms, and we wondered how they managed to fit the 10 -14 people into them. The houses of more skilled workers are bigger and have more expensive items. In a 17th-century row of thatched cottages live coal fires and life-sized human figures, skilful works of art with a haunting presence, heighten the atmosphere.

    Members of staff using the tools of yesteryear proved interesting to watch as they practicing woodworking and basket weaving. A printing office had copies of the newspapers covering the Titanic sinking. The printer produced a handbill using individual letters of type, an ink roller and a hand-operated printing press. In a cottage a young woman was busy at the spinning wheel and elsewhere another was making soda bread and allowing visitors to sample it.

    The village also includes a courthouse, an old Northern Bank with an exhibition of all the money and ledgers used by the banking staff. Schools with textbooks and real graffiti were also present - my wife, a former teacher, sat at the teacher’s desk for a photo. There is also a police station with Spartan cells and an exhibition of the police force in its various names and guises up to present-day.

    A rural area, spread over 60 acres contains farms and mills. As it would take a day to see everything we only had time to visit a hill farm but it was clear that for children the farm animals in the rural area are a popular attraction.

    The teashop, converted from an old temperance hall, serves pastries and hot drinks but, unsurprisingly, no alcohol. They've also got a small visitor centre store and traditional indoor photo display.

    Thatched house shop Pub carpenter spinning
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    Ulster Museum

    by Drever Written Jun 3, 2014

    nside this hybrid of 1960s concrete and neo-classical architecture lurks 8,000 square metres of public display space spread over three floors.

    The museum sitting next to the Botanic Gardens contains everything from the first mummy to be exhibited outside Egypt to collections of birds, insects, molluscs, marine invertebrates, flowering plants, algae and lichens as well as an archive of books and manuscripts relating to Irish natural history. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s it had a permanent exhibition on dinosaurs, which has since been scaled back. There is also a collection of unusual rock crystals and the top-floor gallery displays paintings by British and Irish artists. Glass making in Ireland, steam engines, international fashions in clothes and the living sea are all covered.

    We were interested in the exhibits on Treasures of the Armada. In September 1588 up to 24 ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked on the coast of Ireland, with heavy loss of life but some made it ashore. This caused alarm to the government of Queen Elizabeth I of England. It put most of the survivors to death, with the rest fleeing to the safe haven of Scotland. A savage response certainly but if they had landed in England many of its inhabitants would have suffered a similar fate. Gleaming collection of gold coins, and gold and silver jewellery from a ship salvaged off the Giant's Causeway were on display.

    The museum houses an impressive art collection including art from the 17th century to present day with paintings by Gainsborough, Turner, Reynolds and Irish artists Stanley Spencer, John Lavery and a 12ft high canvas of St Christopher by the 17th century Flemish master Jacob Jordaens and a 12ft wide ‘veil painting’ by the post-war American artist Morris Louis. There are also displays of sculpture, furniture, fashion, textiles, silver and metalwork, jewellery, pottery and porcelain, glass, dolls and toys.

    The museum also offers some great historical exhibits. The most notable being the exhibition Conflict: The Irish at War, which examines the history of warfare in Ireland from the arrival of the first settlers 10,000 years ago to the present day. This story is presented through a series of ‘snapshots’ focusing on periods and events, and illustrated using objects from the collections in the museum, with a few borrowed from other institutions and private individuals. This exhibit gives a good overview of the recent 'troubles' in Northern Ireland.

    On the ground floor there was a jungle exhibition with a real python, a real tarantula, some slimy frogs and stick insects for you to pet.

    The museum contains a little bit of everything, and loads for children to see, including a deep sea show, and loads of life-size stuffed snakes, birds and animals, the most impressive being a couple of roebucks, a polar bear and a vulture.

    A well-stocked gift shop and a café serving some of the city's best apple cake and fresh cream completes the picture. Admission is free!

    Ulster Museum Art Section Bear Steam Engine Artifacts from Spanish Armada
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    Bushmills Distillery

    by Drever Written Jun 1, 2014

    What better way to spend a morning than to go round the world’s oldest legal distillery? In 1608 King James I granted the first licence to distil whiskey to this region - the spirit proved a hit with his court. The distillery therefore celebrates its 400th centenary in 2008. Fittingly to commemorate its anniversary, Bushmills will create a limited edition brew. I look forward to it for its existing range have certain merits.

    Most of the buildings of Bushmills dates from the late 1800’s as a fire razed much of the original buildings to the ground but the present high stone buildings are attractive. Like so many other distilleries, Bushmills relied on the American market. From the 1740s to 1910 Irish emigrants to the USA spread their taste for Bushmills overseas. During these years Bushmills whiskeys scored successes at international spirit and whiskey competitions. With prohibition many distilleries failed but Bushmills survived and by the time prohibition ended it had built up a huge stockpile of whiskey to satisfy a thirsty nation.

    After parking in the large car park we joined a scheduled tour after having been given the background to the company by a short promotional film. Our guide in our quick tour explained the ingredients and the malting, mashing, fermentation, triple distillation and maturation production stages. Augmenting the commentary were the noises, heat of the huge copper stills and the malty smells. The distillery controller; sitting in the middle of the heat and whiskey fumes, checking computer screens to make sure the copper stills didn’t get too hot or cold has an intoxicating job! The bottles swishing through the bottling machines and filling with whiskey seemed strangely hypnotic. In the warehouse barrels sit piled up to 15 high in a huge store. The taste of the final product has much to do with the type of barrels it is stored in - whether it has been used to store sherry or burbon. Evaporation during storage is called the angels draft!

    Apparently Bushmills distils its whiskey three times, while Scottish whiskies are distilled twice and American Burbon whiskey only once. I surmised that from this information given by the guide one was supposed to deduce a certain ranking. This feeling was reinforced as he explained that Bushmills only used pure air to dry their malting barley whereas Scottish distilleries could use peat smoke to add flavour.

    At the tasting our guide asked for four volunteers to conduct a whiskey tasting. These lucky souls got five whiskeys to sample: an American, a popular Scottish whisky, and three Bushmills whiskeys. The panel decided Bushmills was nicer than the others. I did feel that leaving out a certain 18 year old Scotch Whisky ranked the best in the world might have biased his results a tad! Still we were all offered a slug of whiskey (or soft drink) from the bar so who cares – Bushmills whiskies are nice too even if lacking a peaty flavour!

    Bushmills Distillery Whisky sampling Shop Copper Still
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    Walls of Derry

    by Drever Written Jun 1, 2014

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    A walk around the walls of Derry reveals a beautiful old city set in a surrounding landscape of natural beauty, diversity and a wealth of history. The walls provide an ideal platform for viewing the Renaissance street plan within and savouring the view across the River Foyle and beyond to Donegal. Derry is the only remaining fully walled city in Ireland and one of the finest walled cities in Europe.

    The town’s walls circle an area of 1.5km in circumference. The walls up to 18 feet thick can host parades and have withstood many sieges. The modern city outside the walls preserves the 17th-century layout of the four main streets radiating from the four gateways - Bishop's Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Shipquay Gate and Butcher's Gate.

    The British colonised the area with English and Scottish protestant migrants to subdue the unruly area. London trades' guilds assisted with finance to rebuild the then ruined city and in return had it renamed Londonderry in their honour. Among the city's new buildings was St. Columb's Cathedral (1633). This is one of the most important seventeenth century buildings in the country and was the first Protestant cathedral erected in Ireland following the Reformation. St Columba's 'Long Tower' is another very important Derry church. It was the first Catholic Church built in the city after the Reformation and is decorated in a brilliant neo-Renaissance style.

    In 1688-89 the city suffered its final siege. For 105 days cannonballs and mortar-bombs rained down, and famine and disease took their terrible toll as William III met his father-in-law, the deposed King James II at the Battle of the Boyne. Thousands died, both inside and outside the walls. Finally at the end of July, a relief ship broke the barricading ‘boom’, which had been stretched, across the river and William triumphed. The Siege has left its mark on the traditions of the city. Even the cannons used to defend the city still sit on the walls. The keys to the gates that were shut against James II are displayed in the Chapterhouse.

    The city was rebuilt in the 18th century. Many of its fine Georgian style houses still survive. During the 18th and 19th centuries the port of Derry became an important embarkation point for Irish emigrants setting out for America. Some of these founded the colonies of Derry and Londonderry in the state of New Hampshire.

    In 1921, with the partition of Ireland, Derry became a border city. In recent times the city has become known worldwide on account of the 'troubles'. Less well known is its reputation voted by the Civic Trust in London as one of the ten best cities of its kind to live in, in the United Kingdom.

    The Guildhall just outside the walls tells the story of the city. Its stained glass windows illustrate almost every episode of note in the city's history. The story flows up the staircase and floods all the chambers with brilliant light - a fitting tribute to a great city.

    Cannon used to defend the walls View down on to the town St Columb's Cathedral Church Bastion Bishop's Gate
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    Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

    by Drever Written May 31, 2014

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    If you are bold enough to cross Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge stretching above the swirling sea, you qualify for a commemorative certificate. This rope bridge on the North Antrim Coast between Ballycastle and Balintoy crosses a 30m deep and 20m wide chasm to tiny Carrick Island.

    Local fishermen have had a bridge here since the mid 1600s because Carrick Island sits on the sea migration route of salmon. Being often unable to catch them safely by boat in the turbulent seas the local fishermen hit on this alternative way of reaching the migration route. They built the bridge each spring to reach the best places to catch the salmon swimming westward to the freshwater spawning grounds of the rivers Bush and Bann. Using a bag net system they trapped the salmon.

    In the 1970s the bridge consisted of a single handrail and slats with large gaps between. If you think the bridge is scary now, think how it was to cross its swaying length clutching its sole hand rope! Although still used by fishermen it is now mainly a tourist attraction. Tested up to 10 tonnes it was built in 2000 with the help of local climbers and abseilers. Although weighing less than 10 tonnes as I crossed the bridge it jumped up and down at every stride but didn’t appear to sway very much from side to side.

    Across on the island the trappings of the fishing industry were evident: ropes, nets, buoys and even a little fisheries bothy. Always present is the inescapable whiff of tar, fish and the fresh sea air. The rock here is solidified ash and the whole area the remains of an explosive volcano.

    The path up from the car park at Larrybane Quarry can be quite steep but the views make the trek worthwhile. Standing in the car park itself my gaze was drawn to the remains of a limekiln and upward to a great 'amphitheatre' carved out by former white limestone quarrying operations.

    The path along the edge of the waters of Moyle goes by Sheep Island standing perpendicular, proud and erect in the bay before you. The grassy thatch on this volcanic lump of rock according to local wisdom could 'fatten ten sheep, feed eleven and starve twelve'.

    East of the car park and after a 1km walk along part of the North Antrim cliff path, you come to the Rope Bridge itself. A viewpoint on the cliff edge, east of the bridge gives a clear view of this early 19th Century Scottish bag net system. You may even be lucky enough to see the fishermen lift the bag end into a boat for emptying as this is done at least once a day, Monday to Friday.

    The National Trust who maintains the bridge run a small tearoom and interpretative centre occupying the former offices of the Quarry Company that worked the headland of Larrybane Head from the 1930's until 1979.

    Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Salmon fishing station Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
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    The Giant’s Causeway

    by Drever Written May 31, 2014

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    Majestic cliffs and inaccessible bays adjacent to the causeway combine with myth and legend to inspire. Dotted around the coast you'll find small sheltered harbours and slipways, fishermen's cottages. The area is a haven for sea birds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank guillemot and razorbill, while the weathered rock formations host a number of rare and usual plants including sea spleenwort, hare's foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid. The area became a National Nature Reserve in 1987.

    Most of all the area is famed through the strange rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway. Some of the structures resemble objects, such as the Organ and Giant's Boot. Other features include reddish weathered low columns known as Giants Eyes, created by the displacement of basalt boulders; the Shepherd's Steps; the Honeycomb; the Giant's Harp; the Chimney Stacks. UNESCO declared the Giant’s Causeway a World Heritage Site in 1986. It is owned and managed by the National Trust.

    Fast cooling of molten lava coming into contact with water causes cracking and results in the interlocking basalt columns we see today. Most are hexagonal, however there are some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places. The tops of columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea – an ancient causeway to Scotland?

    In mythology a Scottish giant called Benandonner, ridiculed the fighting prowess of Finn MacCool a renowned Irish warrior. Benandonner shouted across the sea that if he could get his hand on Finn, he would make sure that he tear him limb from limb. The enraged Finn tore rocks from the cliffs to make a causeway to Scotland. When finished he shouted 'Now you'll had no excuse' to come over and fight. Finn tired after his labours needed time to recuperate before facing the Scottish giant. Quickly he made a large cot and disguised himself as a baby ... and waited.

    Benandonner arrived shouting, 'Where is that coward MacCool', Finn's wife replied ‘He’s be back soon but sit down and have a cup of tea and a cake, till he comes back’. She placed stones in the cake. Benandonner took a bite and broke a tooth, and thought to himself, this Finn must be tough to eat such cakes. Noticed the huge baby inside the cot his eyes widened thinking the father must be enormous. As he touched the sleeping baby, Finn bit the tip off his finger. Benandonner shocked by this thought, if this is what the baby is capable off, what must the father be capable off! He took to his heels and fled back across the causeway destroying it as he went. The remnants of the Scottish end can be seen at Fingal's Cave in Scotland.

    When you see the Causeway you may well think that the latter explanation is more creditable.

    Giant���s Causeway Giant���s Causeway Giant���s Causeway Giant���s Causeway Giant���s Causeway
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    Dunluce Castle

    by Drever Written May 28, 2014

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    The ruins of Dunluce Castle have a desolate, awe-inspiring grandeur as they rise dramatically from a basaltic stack standing 100 feet above the wild northern sea. It cut deep into the land, exploiting cracks on either side of the rock to separate it from the mainland by a deep chasm. The ' Mermaid's Cave' extends underneath the basaltic stack.

    Early Christians and Vikings came to this romantic place and a fort once stood here. The Normans knew a good defensive site when they saw one and built a castle. In the 16th century, it became Dunluce Castle a stronghold of the McDonnells, ‘Lords of the Isles. Only a narrow arched bridge connects it to the mainland.

    The most colourful occupier of Dunluce Castle was Sorley Boy MacDonnell, a Scottish chieftain. His clan gained control of the north coast in the mid 1500s. He had differences of opinion with Queen Elizabeth I so she sent Sir John Perrottt in 1584 to bring him to task. Sorley evaded arrest and recaptured the castle when one of his men, employed as a member of castle staff, hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket. Not wishing the same to happen again Sorley strengthened the castle’s defence by mounted four cannons salvaged from the Girona, a Galleass of the Spanish Armada, which foundered off the Giant's Causeway in 1588.

    Negotiating from a position of strength Sorley Boy agreed a peace with the English. The family’s position further strengthened when James I created Sorley Boy’s son, Randal, Viscount Dunluce and Earl of Antrim. Money from the Girona enabled the castle to be modernised and Randal founded a town, Portballintrae, west of the castle. It became a thriving commercial centre with its own customs house.

    The second Earl of Antrim, also called Randal built a lavish three-storey manor house in the 1630s within the castle walls for his wife Lady Catherine. It had a great hall 28 by 10 metres with two fireplaces and three bow windows hung with exquisite curtains. It had tapestries, six sets of chairs of state, 60 other elaborately upholstered chairs and stools and a library of books. It had saddles worked with gold and silver, finely inlaid cabinets and valuable objects such as telescopes, celestial and terrestrial globes.

    Parts of the castle including the kitchens fell into the sea in 1639 carrying with them seven cooks. The replacement was built on the mainland. This area included the earl's garden laid out in three terraces, a bowling green, lodgings for the many visitors who graced the Castle and the stables with the remains of a corn drying kiln.

    After the arrest of the Royalist second Earl in 1642, the family moved out of the castle. It gradually fell into decay and transferred to the State for preservation in 1928.

    The castle is open all year and is well worth a visit to inspect its awe-inspiring grandeur and to let your imagination soar.

    Model of Dunluce Castle Ruins of Dunluce Castle Ruins of Dunluce Castle Dunluce Castle perched on its craig Manor House in Dunluce Castle
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    Carrickfergus Castle

    by Drever Written May 27, 2014

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    On a basalt dyke protruding into Belfast Lough, the Normans erecting Carrickfergus Castle to guard the approach to Belfast Lough. This the earliest castle in Ireland has survived through 750 years of continuous military occupation. Almost surrounded by sea and with strong landward defences the castle must have seemed impregnable. Under its protective shadow a walled town developed.

    John de Courcy, on conquered the area in 1177, built the inner ward and keep. It is 90-feet high and contains four floors. The external entrance leads into a public room on the second floor. The third floor contains another poorly lit room, with a fireplace and a single latrine. The fourth storey, in contrast, consists of a high, brightly lit room with windows in all four walls, a fireplace and single latrine. It was the main chamber and served as de Courcy's private quarters. A well shaft provided water and a vaulted cellar, storage.

    In 1204, Hugh de Lacy seized control of the castle, followed in turn in 1210 by King John and then once again de Lacy returned, this time as Earl of Ulster. Each occupant further expanded the castle until a curtain wall, following the line of the rock below, enclosed the entire promontory. A twin-towered gatehouse and two lengths of thick walls, a drawbridge, portcullis and murder holes barred unwanted visitors.

    In 1264, William de Burgh became the Earl of Ulster and the castle’s occupant. After a year’s siege Edward Bruce, brother of the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, forced him to surrender. The English retook the castle in two years time and held it for nearly four centuries until the Scots again seized it. Cromwell's parliamentary army in seven years time then won control.

    During the 16th century Sir Francis Drake used the castle for his headquarters. He demolished the upper levels of the gate-towers to house artillery. Despite improvements continuing, in 1760 French invaders captured it. They looted the castle and town and left, however the British Navy caught them.

    In 1778 one of the first battles of the American War of Independence took place on Belfast Lough by the castle. John Paul Jones attacked a British navy ship and forced her to strike her colours.

    During the Napoleonic Wars Carrickfergus had its armaments increased - six guns on the east battery remain of the 22 used in 1811. During the First World War the castle served as a garrison and ordnance store and during the Second World War as an air raid shelter. In 1928 its ownership transferred to the government for preservation as an ancient monument and it is open to the public.

    Displays tell the castle’s story and show what life was like in medieval times. Some of the exhibits are disconcerting - life like mannequins dressed in soldiers uniform preparing to fire a cannon down on you. Some like King John on the throne (latrine) are cheeky. The castle’s story is long and the displays tell it with clarity.

    Carrickfergus Castle Redcoats defending the castle gun drill Banquet Hall View from castle
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    Dunluce Castle

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Dec 7, 2013

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    Close to the Giant's causeway are the ruins of Dunluce Castle a 13th century castle built by the earl of Luster. Pathetic castle was abandoned after 1690 when the family that owned it fell into poverty after a military defeat.

    Dunluce Castle Dunluce Castle Dunluce Castle Dunluce Castle
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    Belfast

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Dec 7, 2013

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    Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and famous for its shipyard which produced the Titantic. After years of unrest, peace has returned to Northern Ireland and with it Belfast has been reborn as one of Europe's up and coming cities.

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    Dunluce Castle

    by shavy Written Aug 3, 2013

    Worth to visit, the Castle is thought by many to be the most picturesque and romantic of Irish castles
    And is located dramatically close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea along the North Antrim coast

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    No escaping the sacrifice.

    by planxty Updated Dec 18, 2012

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    I know the First World War was a long time ago now, and Harry Patch, "the last Tommy" died last year, thereby severing the last living link with that conflict. The Second World War is obviously much more recent, and there are still many people living who were alive then, including many who served. One of my uncles was in North Africa and Italy and I had two Aunts in the WAAF. Most tragically, my Uncle Tommy was ubused to death by the Japanese whilst a prisoner of war, having been worked on the Burma Railway. In Northern Ireland, as indeed in many parts of the United Kingdom, there are public war memorials in almost every town and village, and many more private ones in Churches, schools and the like.

    The monument pictured is situated in Tandragee, Co. Armagh (my family's village) and is fairly typical of the type of thing you will find. The second image is of the Remembrance Day servcice in 2012. Remmbrance Sunday is always held on the Sunday nearest the 11th Novemeber each year. This is due to the fact that the Armistice ending the First World War was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

    There are a couple of things that are of interest in relation to this subject. Firstly, at the time of the First War, all of Ireland was under British Rule and, whilst conscription was enforced on the mainland, it never was in Ireland for political reasons. Despite this, many hundreds of thousands of men from all over Ireland volunteered, from both sides of the political and religious divide. Many, many thousands of them did not return or returned wounded, some maimed for life both mentally and physically. Such is the nature of war.

    Another interesting thing is that when the memorials were erected, in the years immediately after the War, no provision was made for their upkeep. All efforts were on getting sufficient funds to erect the things in the first place, and the question of upkeep just did not arise. An Act of Parliament in 1925 stated that local authorities could use their funds for upkeep although to this day there is no statutory obligation so to do. Thankfully, though, most seem to be in a good state of repair. I think it is only right that we remember the sacrifices of our forefathers.

    The excellent Imperial War Museum with it's main site in London is currently co-ordinating a marvellous project to create a National Inventory of War Memorials all over the United Kingdom. If you live in the UK, you may want to contribute yourself using the attached link.

    As you travel round Northern Ireland, perhaps you may wish to stop and think for a moment about the horrors these predominantly young men endured.

    War Memorial, Tandragee, Co. Armagh, N. Ireland. Remembrance Sunday Service, Tandragee, N. Irleand.
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    THE FIRST IRISH CASTLE

    by DAO Written Oct 11, 2012

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    Carrickfergus is the large castle you can see as you land at Belfast Airport. It is to the north-west of Belfast, so sit on the rights side flying into Belfast and the left when flying out. You can then see it. The castle was built in 1177 by the Norman John de Courcy to defend the approach to Belfast Lough. De Courcy was a knight and grandson of another knight who invaded England in 1066 with William the Conqueror. Despite no authority from King Henry II, De Courcy defeated the different Kings of Northern Ireland and Carrickfergus was the first Irish Castle. He was quite an adventurer and it took years before an English King could put a stop to his freewheeling ways.

    Carrickfergus was a thriving trading town before a single house was constructed in Belfast. Originally it was strategically built so that 3 of the 4 sides were on the water of Belfast Lough. It is not today due to land reclamation projects. After being built it was attacked, in order, by the Scots (1597), Irish (Nine Years War 1595–1603), English (1690) and French (1760). Except for the brief overthrows, Carrickfergus castle was garrisoned continuously by the British Army for almost 750 years. In the 1700’s it was a prison. Later it strengthened and served as a magazine and armoury until 1928 when the British Army finally left. During World War II it served as an air raid shelter. Today it is managed the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

    You can walk into the main gates for free. After that it’s a reasonable admission fee. A lot of the castle is full of mannequins and mock-ups. The real beauty is the view from the walls.

    The venue inside the castle can be hired for birthdays and weddings and host 60 people. They offer an audio tour and gift shop.


    Opening Times 2012-2013:
    1 Apr – 30 Sep 10am – 6pm daily
    1 Oct - 31 Oct 10am - 4pm daily
    1 Nov – 28 Feb 10am – 4pm daily
    1 Mar – 31 Mar 10am – 4pm daily
    (Except Christmas and New Year)

    CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE CARRICKFERGUS CASTLE
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    • Castles and Palaces
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  • hasthetravelbug's Profile Photo

    Ulster Rugby Match is a MUST!

    by hasthetravelbug Written Apr 12, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you have the chance you have to go and catch an Ulster Rugby match at Ravenhill Stadium. The Ulster fans are passionate and fill the stadium regardless of who is in town to play. Get caught up in the banter or sing along with the chants and catch a great game!

    Make sure you try to get there early if you are in the general seating area. It is first come first serve in the standing section! Wear your Ulster jersey or t-shirt. Or at least wear something red and black....

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Backpacking

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