When in Northern Ireland I highly reccommend visiting this small town of Portrush. It is a beautiful town that hosts many large events like the Northwest 200 motorcycle race. There are many fun things to do - walk on the nice beaches - both east and west strands, play at Barry's indoor and outdoor amusement centre (Largest in Ireland), Explore the elevated pennisula of Ramore Head, endulge in Fish 'n Chips at Mr. Chip. If you're looking for nightlife, one of Northern Ireland's largest clubs - Lush is a 5 minute taxi ride away! You can also surf, but make sure you're wearing a full body wet suit! I now know why Portrush is such a great summer town! You are close to Portstewart, the giants causeway, and Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
Carrick -A- Rede Rope Bridge is located on the North Antrim Coast between Ballycastle and Balintoy. It is an ideal spot to visit when visiting other attraction ion the area such as the Giants Causeway or Dunluce Castle. This bridge has been here since the 1600's and is used by local fisherman to catch migrating salmon.
When visiting the bridge there is about a 15 minute walk along the cliffside to the bridge.
For those interested in ornithology the opportunity to spot Eiders, Fulmars, Kittywakes, Guillemots, and Razorbills, presents itself as the islands to which the rope bridge lead are important breeding grounds for these birds.
Regardless if you're a bird fan or not Carrick -A -Rede provides fantastic views and wildlife. A must see when in Northern Ireland!
Admission is about 2 pounds for adults, and about 6 pounds for families.
When you step into Belfast it is very clear that it has been changed by the industrial revolution. There are many grand public buildings to see and shops to buy just about anything. There are no more barriers or tanks, but ports, museums, and beautiful parks to explore. The most popular places are all within walking distance. Start yourself off near City hall and from there you can stroll on Donegal Place to hit the shops and go further northeast too see the Albert Memorial Clocktower. Go south down Dublin Rd for the Golden Mile entertainment area, Queen's University, Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens.
This UNESCO world heritage site is made up of unique natural geological formations of basalt hexagonal stones. These formations were created by volcanic eruption and cooling lava. Funny thing is ancient history doesn't agree.
Locals say that during a fight with a Scotish giant, the legendary Finn McCool, the ulster warrior not only threw a massive piece of land across in the direction of Scotland to create the Isle of Man, but created the giants causeway to bring the lady giant on Staffa across to Ulster.
What ever story you believe, the causeway is a definate stop when in Northern Ireland. There are 40,000 of these stone columns, mostly hexagonal but some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 40 feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 90 feet thick in places. You can do a few different walks, all of them starting above the causeway on a cliff looking down. The easiest walk is circular and takes you to the grand causeway and back up to the visitor's centre. You can even take a bus from the bottom if you're not up for the walk back.
Giant Causeway is a special natural phenominon at a small part of the coastline of Northern Ireland. It was the reason for me to go there in july 2000 and I had a great afternoon there.
All of that small area of Giant Causeway consists of millions of Basalt-octagons of vulcanic origin. Millions of years ago that Basalt was pressed out of the vulcany by such a high pressure, that it made these more or less regular octagons that you may see still today.
Giant Causeway is a mayor tourist-attraction and you will hardly ever be there alone...
Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in the world. King James I granted the original License to distil 'Acqua Vitae' in April 1608 and since then Bushmills has been making the finest Irish Malt Whiskey here for almost four hundred years. The tour brings you through the distilling process and you can taste and enjoy an ounce of your choice of whiskey at the end.
Two miles of magnificent sandy beach and important dune system (180 acres) on Northern Ireland's north coast, facing the Atlantic ocean. The sandy beach is gently shelving and bordered to west and south by the River Bann, and to the east by seaside report of Portstewart. Car parking on the beach in a zoned section. A charge of 4 pounds per car and 12 pounds for a mini bus.
I didn't get to the beach by car because of the high parking cost but if you have a National Trust membership, parking is free.
You can park your car just up the hill and walk down to the strand if you're strapped for cash.
This is what the basalt-octagons of Giant Causeway are looking like, and that shape did not change within millions of years. You may need about 2 hours to explore all of that area, climb up and down the small hills at the coast, search for the best places to take your photos etc.
About 100 km north of Giant Causeway there is an equivalent basalt-island : Staffa
It became famous after the visit of the composer Mendelson-Bartholdy.
Read more about it at my Staffa-page !
Boa Island is the only sight in Northern Ireland, besides Giant Causeway, that I have visited so far. The main attraction of Boa island in Lough Erne are 2 pre-christian sculptures, one showing Janus with a double face and the other one "the lusty man", that was taken there some time ago from another place nearby.
Janus does not only have 2 heads, BUT this sculpture is showing a male and a female side
Boadhbhis the irish name for the Celtic war-goddess, so this is where the name comes from
I had been there many years ago, when it was still a big hassle to go through the controls and when you were checked by the irish and the british side and while it was totally forbidden to park a car "unattached" inside any village in Northern Ireland. So the only sight I could see was boa island and I left Northern ireland quickly again the same day.
unfortunately I could not yet scan the slide of the janus-head...
Separated by the Westlink Motorway, west Belfast is the home of some iconic murals. The Catholic/Republican murals around Falls Rd first appeared in 1981 in support of the hunger strikers; the mural of Bobby Sands near the Sinn Féin offices is particularly famous. Other themes include the Potato Famine, Celtic and religious imagery, the recent Agreement and the cease-fire. The loyalist murals are more militaristic, and are concentrated on Shankill Rd.
You can take a black cab tour, or just get a friend to drive you through. I felt very safe walking around and taking pictures in the day time but driving by at night it seems a little bit more scary. It is still an interesting sight to see!
Ramore head is the end of a one mile long basalt peninsula that Portrush rests on, it rises around 100-200ft above Portrush, from here you can enjoy good views (east) over the town and Inishowen on the Donegal mainland (west).
If you're already in Portrush, visiting Ramore head is a short walk from the town centre. Great views and breeze.
Hillsborough is a small town that has a few nice things to do. It is a historical Georgian village with Hillsborough Castle, home to the Secretary of State, Hillsborough Fort and Forest Park. Its great just to walk through this town and enjoy the architecture and community.
If you're there in the evening the Hillside pub has pub quizzes and pints in a nice and calm atmosphere.
Loch Neagh is the British Isles' largest lake and a good place for fishing, sailing and other watersports. It is also a great place to just walk around and have a picnic lunch.
When I went (May) there were so many miggies (annoying flies) everywhere so it wasn't as enjoyable as it could of been.
The vistor centre has a discovery area that familiarizes you with the local wildlife and history.
Five of the six counties meet at Loch Neagh.
My trip to Derry was a short one but it was great. We went to see the One Big Weekend event hosted by Radio one. The bands featured were - Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Avril Lavigne, The Streets, and of course Northern Ireland's own Ash. In the city of Derry there is a lot to see. There is a lot of interesting history but I am definately not going to post it here. click HERE if you're interested. In a nutshell, The historic walled city of Derry, also known as Londonderry, came into existence in 546 AD, when St Columba founded a monastery beside the River Foyle. It is the fourth largest city in Ireland, and the only one whose ancient walls survive intact. Stroll along the walls and visit the Tower Museum, which charts the history of the city from its beginnings right up to the 1970s.
Crown Liquor Saloon has more of 'Dodge city' about it rather than Irish watering hole.
The place is widely regarded as one of the best examples of the Edwardian mania for incredibly ornate pubs. As such it is owned by the Nation trust and leased to a company.
The mixture of gas lamps, tiling and mirrors is ceratinly very impressive, although some feel that it is not maintained to 'museum standard'.
It is, remember, a working pub rather than a museum piece. Opinions are certainly divided about the qualiy of beer, food and service in the place. Some see it as a tourist trap for tourists, others as an authentic part of Belfast life.
I would also question the quality of the clientelle. Last time I was there the bloke in the booth area (sort of box shared by about 8 people around a central table) who I was chatting with proceeded to eat a snack from a packet. No problem there...until he went on to pull out a frighteningly sharp nine-each hunting knife from his sports bag and pick the bits out between his teeth with it.
I also rather like the story about how the pub got it's name. It was originally owned by a couple who were 'mixed' (i.e One protestant and one Catholic). The proddy insisted on putting 'crowns' in the design. The Catholic one responded by inserting them in the floor - so you would walk on the Queen's head everytime you went in or out of the place !
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