Thursday July 24th ~ Northern Ireland
Our last day in Ireland we took a long all-day trip using Irish Day Tours once again to the northern tip of the island. Click here to see the map and itinerary. There were several photo stops along the way, but the two highlights were a rope bridge and a 6 million year old volcanic anomaly.
Actually, let me rephrase that…
The highlight was the drop-dead gorgeous scenery in both of these locations.
But just as we were about to get on a bus at 6:30 in the morning to head out of Dublin, I snapped one more picture of Gus with the infamous Molly Malone statue.
Just recently relocated, this life-size bronze statue that used to hold court on Grafton Street can now be found in front of the Old Stone Church. ‘The Tart with the Cart”, ‘The Trollop with the Scallops” and “The Dish with the Fish,” are just some of the nicknames for the world’s most infamous, possibly fictitious, prostitute and fishmonger, Molly Malone.
Some may be old enough to remember this little ditty:
“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow through the streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive O”
The story here is more about the scenery than the swinging rope bridge that hangs 100 feet above the water. Yes, there is a charge, but it was included in our tour, so I did not pay any attention to what the price is to cross over the bridge.
A brisk 15 minute walk mostly downhill from the parking lot brings you to the end of a jutting peninsula. To reach the almost touching island, you wait in line until you are given the OK by monitoring park attendants. They let traffic through in one direction for a minute or two and then stop the line and let those returning from the island proceed back. Only 8 people are supposed to be on the bridge at any one time, but frequently they allowed 14 or more.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located at the northern most point on the island of Ireland, it was voted the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. It is the number one site for Northern Ireland.
There are legends and folklore that the Irish tell with great gusto as to how the step like formations were created by giants. Here is a link if you want to read that story. And here is another good link with more information about the Causeway.
From the visitor center and parking lot it is about a 10-15 minute walk down the hill to get to the hexagon shaped rocks that jut out into the ocean. There are some amazing pictures available on the internet that were taken at sunrise or sunset, but sadly we were there mid afternoon. The rocks were swarming with tourists, and the lighting was poor for photography, but we enjoyed our time none-the-less.
If you want to see a few killer shots that others have taken with more ideal conditions, click here.
There is a shuttle bus that you can use to take you down and back up the hill if you prefer. We walked down and took the bus on the return leg. It cost £1 in each direction.
Here are a few more random shots we took along the way:
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for the wonderful time we had in Ireland. It is a beautiful, lush, green and welcoming country. The Irish people are among the most friendly we have encountered. Quick with a story or a smile, the gift of blarney seems to come naturally. Theirs is a past filled with struggles, poverty, starvation, and ongoing battles throughout much of their history. They will forever be linked to the Titanic. Proud of their drink and especially Guinness, you will find a pub located not only on every corner, but several in-between.
Although religion has played a major role in Ireland and still divides the North and South between the Protestants and Catholics, the real religion here (other than drinking Guinness of course) is their love of sports. The two main ones are Gaelic Football and Hurling.
From an outsiders perspective, their version of football looks to be a combination of soccer (kicking the ball), football (carrying the ball), basketball (dribbling the ball), volleyball (how they hit the ball when trying to score) and the impact of rugby. It is fast paced, rough and rugged with no “sissy padding”.
Hurling is a game with prehistoric roots. Played with a stick (hurley) and a small ball (sliotar), it is another fast and furious sport. The ball can be hit with the stick, or balanced or bounced on the stick while trying to run from one end of the field to the other, then hit into net or over a post to score.
Thank you Ireland for a wonderful time. I will forever remember your natural beauty!