County Antrim

County Antrim is in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. It's one of the six counties of the historic province of Ulster which remained in the UK after the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland (Eire) became independent in 1922. The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, is mostly in Antrim and partly in County Down. See my Belfast page for pictures from that city. 

 

Bushmills

Bushmills is best known as a brand of whiskey, the Northern Irish counterpart of Eire's Jameson's. It's also a nice little county town, where I stayed for two nights at Montalto House, located on a working farm an easy walk into town. 

Above - the mills at Bushmills

Bushmills Distillery offers tours, so of course I took one. Unfortunately, they don't allow photography inside, but here's one of the outside. The tour ends with a complementary tasting - try the hot muddled whiskey... yum!

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is located on a dramatic outcrop, just a few miles from Bushmills. It was the home first of the MacQuillan family, and later of the MacDonnells of Northern Ireland, a/k/a the MacDonalds of the Isles in Scotland.  


Visitors to Dunluce would stay on the mainland in the Outer Ward Residences. Only the most favored would be allowed to cross the bridge across the steep gorge to the Hall and Inner Ward. 

The Inner Ward, with the Hall beyond. The elaborate floor shows this was an important part of the castle. Behind where I was standing when I took this picture was a section of the castle which collapsed into the sea when a section of cliff eroded away. Legend says that only a kitchen boy survived, and the wife of the lord refused to live in the castle any longer. Unfortunately, it's only a good story, as that wing survived well past the abandonment of the castle in general. 

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is a section of the Antrim Coast where solidification and crystalization of ancient lava flows left hexagonal columns of basalt. A similar area across the water in Scotland forms Staffa Island. At least that's what the scientists say, but what do they know? 

The actual story is that the causeway was built by Finn MacCool, the fabled Irish giant to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. Finn was so exhausted, he fell asleep before walking to Scotland. Benandonner came over to Ireland first. Finn's quick-thinking wife threw a blanket over Finn, and when Benandonner arrived she begged him not to disturb the sleeping baby. Seeing the huge Finn MacCool, and thinking he was just the baby, Benandonner ran back to Scotland in fear of his much larger father, tearing up the causeway as he went. 

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 


The Organ, a hillside collection of columns


The Giant's Boot

Carrick-a-Rede

Fishermen used to go to Carrick-a-Rede (Rock of the Road) Island to set nets for migrating salmon. In order to avoid having to climb down and up the cliffs, they built a rope bridge from the mainland to the island. The salmon fishing is past, but the bridge is maintained as a tourist attraction.


Carrick-a-Rede, with the bridge


The island cliffs provide a great nesting area for Razorbills, among many other sorts of sea birds. 


The bridge is not for those with a fear of heights, but it makes for a great view (if a bit shaky)


Fullmars also nest at Carrick-a-Rede, and soar in the updrafts from the cliffs.

Antrim Coast and Glens


White Park Bay


The little village of Portbraddan nestles under the White Park Bay cliffs.


East of Carrick-a-Rede, the Antrim Glens extend inland from the sea. Much as I would have liked to explore them, the day turned out to be one of the few all-day drenchers I had during my trip, and it was just too soggy to want to go hiking. This is Glenariff Waterfall, which is fortunately located a short walk from the Glenariff Lodge restaurant's car park. 

Carrickfergus

Carrickfergus Castle, over 800 years old, is very well preserved - thank goodness, since the rain didn't let up for my visit. 


The Banquet Hall at Carrickfergus Castle

View of Carrickfergus Harbour from the top floor of the Castle Keep

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Copyright 2011 Mike Brown
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