Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quiet Man and Northern Ireland

I drove from Killarney to Galway (west coast of ireland) and then on to Clifden for a night. Clifden is located in another picturesque area of Ireland - lots of hiking, birdwatching and fishing. This is also the area where the John Wayne/Maureen O'Hara movie 'The Quiet Man' was filmed in 1951. OK some of you may be too young to have watched this film but it is a good classic movie with showing lots of beautiful irish scenery scenery - and visiting this area I am not disappointed as it looks just like in the movie. Ronanne and Lesley this will be our next classic movie night picture and I will make a traditional Irish stew!

This is the bridge John Wayne stood on in the movie - this bridge was a block from my B&B
Scenes around Clifden . . .
Yes I drove on these roads with the help of Sally Sat Nav!
One of the many old abandoned homes in Ireland
Example of new homes
From Clifden I headed north through Donegal and then into Northern Ireland. Not sure exactly when you enter Northern Ireland as there isn't a border and no signage but the gas prices go to pounds from euros and kilometers change to miles. The other difference is that all road signs in the Republic of Ireland are in english and Irish gaelic whereas in Northern Ireland the road signs are in English only. Also like Scotland, Northern Ireland has their own currency as well as the pound except when you try to use Scottish or northern Irish currency in England they often will not take it!

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It is variously described as a country, province or region of the UK. Northern Ireland shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. As of 2011, its population was 1,810,900, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the population of the United Kingdom. Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland is largely self-governing. According to the agreement, Northern Ireland co-operates with the rest of Ireland – from which it was partitioned in 1921 – on some policy areas, while other areas are reserved for the Government of the United Kingdom, though the Republic of Ireland "may put forward views and proposals".

Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter inter-communal conflict – the Troubles – which was caused by divisions between nationalists, who see themselves as Irish and are predominantly Roman Catholic, and unionists, who see themselves as British and are predominantly Protestant. (Additionally, people from both sides of the community may describe themselves as Northern Irish.) Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain as a part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists want reunification with the rest of Ireland, independent of British rule. Since 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns.

Stopped in Donegal for a quick coffee and gas - the weather has turned quite wet so no point in staying, I continued north to spend the night in Bushmills (Northern Ireland) so I could visit the Giant Causeway the next day. I arrived after dark in Bushmills and this was the first time I had not booked accommodation in advance. I could only see one hotel in the village and it had an AA rating so I thought I would check out the price. Let's just say I blew my budget on this hotel but it was very nice. The next day I realized all the B&B were located outside the village so I really should have booked in advance as they would have been too difficult to find in the dark.

Little detour I took to the ocean before Donegal
B&B in Bushmills - the over the budget one!
Town of Bushmills
The day I was to visit the Giant Causeway the weather started out very wet with an Irish mist. One minute it was pouring with rain and the next there were patches of blue sky - makes for great rainbows with pots of gold and a leprechaun thrown in for good luck. You need to keep your humor because the weather is ever changing this time of year.

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant's Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea.

Road to giant causeway

Good view of the causeway in the mist

I drove a section of the Giant Causeway Coastal Road between Bushmills and Ballycastle - the landscape is truly breathtaking!

One of the tourist points on the Giant Causeway is the rope bridge that you can walk across. Not that I would even consider walking across this bridge but I did need to go and have a look. A short coastal footpath leads to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. On the way, there are wonderful vantage points to stop and take in the natural beauty. The geology, flora and fauna have won Carrick-a-Rede recognition as an area of special scientific interest.

Of course, Carrick-a-Rede also boasts an exhilarating rope bridge experience. Traditionally fishermen erected the bridge to Carrick-a-Rede island over a 23m-deep and 20m-wide chasm to check their salmon nets. Better them than me!

The rope bridge originally consisted of a single rope hand rail which has been replaced by a two hand railed bridge by the National Trust. Once you reach Carrick Island, the reward is seeing the diverse birdlife and an uninterrupted view across to Rathlin Island and Scotland. There is only one way off the island - back across the swinging bridge! Unless you stay on the one side and just take pictures!

It was a kilometer from the car park to the bridge so at least I am getting some walking excerise today.


















Once in Ballycastle I drove through the town to the beach to get one last look at the Giant Causeway and the amazing scenery.

If you look hard you can see a couple of black dots - those are surfers

Public art at the beach
Town of Ballycastle

Love the sign - perhaps suited for Oak Bay

It was very difficult to say goodbye to this part of Ireland as I knew this would be the last time I would see the Irish coast - for now anyway! I'll be back! The coast of Ireland is unlike anything I have seen before - simply the best!

I drove inland heading south bypassing Belfast and on to Dublin back to Sharon and her mum who have been such wonderful hosts. Thank you to Kathleen (Sharon's mum) for setting an iteninary of things I should see while traveling around ireland - you were spot on! I think kathleen has already started to work on the iteninary for my next visit!

Kathleen and Sharon's lovely home

My rental car outside the gates.


I am off back to England tomorrow to spen a few days with relatives before I return to Canada on November 15th. I have fallen in love with Ireland so I hope to take the luck of the Irish with my on my next travels.


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