My aunt Joan came to Ireland for the opening of my exhibition in Dublin, after which we did some traveling. I have been trying to check off the last bits of my Ireland Must Do list. One of these big checks needed to cover Northern Ireland. Rather then heading straight to Belfast (which I still need to do) we went further north to The Glens of Antrim and then hit the north coast.
The North of Ireland is actually not that big,(well the island as a whole is really not that big-especially to americans) and easily drivable in a couple of days. It is always funny to me how irish people will think us crazy for thinking nothing of driving from one coast to the other (our house to Dublin). One way it is about 3 hours, 3 hours in the US and you’ve barely made progress and more than likely remain in the same state.
Northern Ireland is of course a place that would be lovely to go back (do some more exploring of the interior) but driving along the coast for a long weekend was a great experience.
We spent a night in Cushendall, a small village on the sea, with easy access into the Glens and some waterfalls.
Then onto Giant’s Causeway…believe all the hype…its really fucking cool, I want to see the other side of the causeway on the Scotland side. The legend of the location, and the variations of it are beautiful as well. As per Wikipedia”
Legend has it that the Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. One version of the legend tells that Fionn fell asleep before he got to Scotland. When he did not arrive, the much larger Benandonner crossed the bridge looking for him. To protect Fionn, his wife Oonagh laid a blanket over him so he could pretend that he was actually their baby son. In a variation, Fionn fled after seeing Benandonner’s great bulk, and asked his wife to disguise him as the baby. In both versions, when Benandonner saw the size of the ‘infant’, he assumed the alleged father, Fionn, must be gigantic indeed. Therefore, Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway in case he was followed by Fionn.Another variation is that Oonagh painted a rock shaped like a steak and gave it to Benandonner, whilst giving the baby (Fionn) a normal steak. When Benandonner saw that the baby was able to eat it so easily, he ran away, tearing up the causeway.Another version of the legend was that Fionn had spent many days and nights trying to create a bridge to Scotland because he was challenged by another giant. A fellow boatsman told him that the opponent was much larger than he. Fionn told his wife and she came up with an ingenious plan to dress Fionn like a baby. They spent many nights creating a costume and bed. When the opponent came to Fionn’s house; Fionn’s wife told him that Fionn was out woodcutting and the opponent would have to wait for him to return. Then Fionn’s wife showed him her baby and when the opponent saw him he was terrified at the thought of how huge Fionn would be. He ran back to Scotland and threw random stones from the causeway into the waters bellow.The “causeway” legend corresponds with geological history in as much as there are similar basalt formations (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at the site of Fingal’s Cave on the isle of Staffa in Scotland.“
Also near Giant’s Causeway that you can find the old Rope Bridge, now a tourist attraction, but originally built for fisherman to get to the nearby island and fishing cove. You have to pay to go across, but the thrill is quite intense and a bit scary…even for those not afraid of heights (me). The photos from the other side are gorgeous and you can find them below, also keep an eye out for the photo of aunt Joan and Sean that were to chicken to come across with me!
Our time in Northern Ireland ended, when we took the short ferry ride over to Donegal, once again entering the republic of Ireland. Donegal is one of my favorite spots in Ireland and unspoiled by masses of tourists, due to many town being only Irish-speaking and the tiny-squiggly roads!
Over to the peninsula of Inishowen and up to the most northern part of Ireland, Malin Head we went. This is also the most SUNNY part of Ireland, though it was not proven on our arrival. Though the people were lovely and we had a great night stopping in the curiosity shop, finding a perfect B&B tucked on a hill-top, and finding a great meal!
Continuing our travels down through Donegal we stopped at a Famine Village tourist attraction and actually learned a whole bunch, I think I am going to do a tourist guide page…so I will leave it at that for now….Then a slow ride and a stay over in Mayo (next favorite Irish County); the lakes, the mountains, the valleys, the baby sheep (nothing cuter then lambing season), and this whole time no rain on our travels.
Through Connemara, then Galway, and back we arrive home in Clare.