When you look at me you instantly see my red hair and freckles then you hear the name Shannon and you can put together that my family comes from Ireland. I’m proud of my heritage, as most people I’m sure are, and I was so thankful to be able to make the trip to Ireland for the second time in my life.
The first visit was 5 years ago and I spent it strictly in Dublin and Belfast. I only went out for dinner with my extended family members (which I had yet to ever meet) on my last night in Ireland, regretting that quickly. We’ve continued to connect on Facebook over the years and now having the opportunity to go back I was so thankful to my cousin for having us stay with her in Belfast.
Our first evening with my cousin she took us on a drive to Bangor and Donaghadee (Dawn-a-kah-dee) for a beautiful sunset drive and dinner. Stunning area and the setting sun was a perfect backdrop for pictures.
The water was so still and created the most beautiful reflections.
There are many tours that run from Dublin and Belfast to the Northern Ireland coast but I was so happy to have a family member tour guide that put together a personalized drive to her favourite places.
We (actually mainly Paula) sketched out the route the evening before, planning where we would stop and explore, some shorter than others.
Our drive began weaving up the middle of the country towards the coast with a highly anticipated visit to The Dark Hedges. I had seen this area in many beautiful photographs and paintings and never thought I’d be able to see it in person. Nick was excited to see it because he’s a huge fan of the Game of Thrones and it is now also known as The Kings Road in the popular show (many other filming locations around Ireland as well as Titanic Studios in Belfast).
Can’t explain the beauty of this street, trees planted hundreds of years ago, arching over the roadway creates a historic road or lane way that makes you feel you are looking into the past.
The pictures show the beauty but can’t express the feeling of walking down the road.
This was only our first stop! The rest of the day was full of a ton more stunning sites.
Heading on, our next stop was Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. A nice and high rope bridge connecting land to an island originally for fishermen to check on the salmon and their spawn; now a tourist destination for the fearful and the brave to cross the bridge.
Originally a rickety bridge with a rope railing on only one side is now a very sturdy and strong bridge so no need to be fearful, unless you look down.
Hello down there!!
We stopped briefly in a small fishing village called Ballintoy along the coastal route. The next picture is also an area some scenes are/were filmed for Game of Thrones.
You can’t look anywhere and not be happy with your view; I had to stop myself from taking too many pictures.
Next stop was the world famous UNESCO World Heritage site Giant’s Causeway, known for their utterly unique rock formations.
Face in the side of the cliff?
Legend of why the Causeway is what it is:
The Irish giant named Fionn MacCool was challenged by the Scottish giant Benandonner to fight. It is said that Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’ he is fearful that Fionn is beyond a regular sized giant. He quickly races back to Scotland, destroying the causeway bridge that was said to connect Ireland to Scotland.
50 to 60 million years ago it was a highly active volcanic area which lava flowed, as it cooled it contracted and fractured into the columns now seen. The myth may have come about because there are similar columns in Scotland.
The giant clearly needed something to play music on so this is believed to be the remnants of his organ.
and the chimney stack’s..
We stopped in Bushmills for a packed picnic of a large selection of cheese, crackers, spreads, as well as wine and beer to top it off!
Around the corner was our next stop… clearly the Distillery of Bushmills. Our first sips of the tasty Irish whisky; not near as awful as I thought it would be… maybe one day I’ll ”choose” it is a drink of choice but not yet. It doesn’t have the smokey-ness taste that most whisky’s from the states or Canada have, it’s much smoother and easier to drink with just a splash of water.
A short stop at Dunluce Castle. We did not pay the fee to go in, it is pretty run down compared to other castle’s we have visited so we just ran about the grounds (free), snapped some pictures and continued on our way.
It was now getting close to dusk and we headed to Portrush to end our busy day having a fantastic meal (which I will discuss in another post about all the amazing food we enjoyed).
An amazing day spent driving the coast, which we didn’t expect to get to experience! Before visiting we had only planned on seeing Belfast and Dublin; a visit to Ireland is definitely not complete unless you leave the cities and enjoy another part. The Northern coast is beautiful but I am told there are countless other areas of the country that are just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, if that’s even possible?!