Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ballymagibbon Cairn

Our very fun driver, Brendan, found many stops along the way that were interesting. This was on of them.

To get here required climbing a wall or at least through a narrow opening in the wall and trudging across a field while dodging cow and sheep dung, then climbing under another fence. Oh my! For me all this was done in Birkenstocks. probably not the best shoe choice but who knew.

Once we arrived, we found this mini Stonehenge of large flat stones sitting in an upright and circular pattern. Then there was the huge rock pile that one could climb if you had proper shoes or were so inclined. They describe it as undisturbed (fool me) and not knowing what was beneath all the stone. I do hope we were not trampling on someone's burial site.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Donegal Golf club and Duncliffe Monastery

One of the nice things about this trip was a chance to play some really tough golf followed by some site seeing. We were really lucky having Brendan as our tour guide. He found interesting things to see and do all along the way.

 Donegal Golf Club was yet one more tough one for me but the weather proved to be favorable. It is ranked 20th in Ireland's Top 100 Courses. Fool me, they are all ranked first. The course architect was Eddie Hackett. I wonder if he is a relative of mine. That is a family name.

Next up was the Duncliffe Monastery. All that remains of this are three stone crosses and a tower. Adjacent to the land is the 19th century church, St Columba. The church grave yard is the burial site of William Butler Yeats, the well know Irish poet.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood. This castle is also the subject of a song named "Dunluce Castle" written by George Millar and sung by the Irish Rovers.

It's really humbling to  be in such old places, imaging how the people lived. In spite of their wealth, their lives were so much more complicated than ours.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Royal Portrush Golf Course

For those who love golf, check out the views first and the sand traps next. Isn't this the right combination for a day at the beach. I definitely got my money's worth here. I am pretty sure I hit more shots than anyone else. Doesn't that make me the winner.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 39 ft high.

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Finn MacCool, from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn's wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow.

We climbed all over it and sat among the rock formations all the while the sea blasted at the edges. Truly a spectacular day!

Friday, February 19, 2016

We had lunch at the Crown Saloon which was a step back in time featuring booths with doors and several floors for dining. I am sure Irish coffee and a Guiness or two was on the menu.

It was fascinating to see all the graffiti and the remnants of the Irish conflict. Union flags fly over parts of the city that show allegiance to the crown. In the end, it’s a lot about the cash that the UK provides these communities.

Our home for two nights. Each of the rooms was named after someone or something. Ours was the McAllister after James McAllister and Sons Old Irish Whiskey. Bushmills had a really nice dining room and so we had dinner here twice. One evening after dinner, we went to the pub and listened to a local sing ballads and other very funny songs. When he saw us walk in, he sang a tune about Obama or is it O'Bama. Truly a fun evening.

Rick and I took a tour of the Bushmills Brewery and found it interesting that most of the whiskey barrels they use come from Kentucky.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Belfast, Where the Titanic was Built

Belfast City Hall is Belfast City Council's civic building. It is located in Donegall Square, in the heart of Belfast city center. it faces north and effectively divides the commercial and business areas of the city center. It first opened its doors on August 1, 1906. The interior is gorgeous and includes a rather grand central staircase as well as a lot of public art, including a major number of stain glass windows. One pictured below is captioned “Not as Catholics or Protestants, not as Nationalists or Unionists but as Belfast workers standing together.”

The Titanic Museum in Belfast is a monument to Belfast's maritime heritage. The museum is built on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. Shaped like the hull of a ship, this is a very contemporary museum. We  walked through both the history and story of the Titanic. It was sad but impressive.