Sunday, May 09, 2004
Oh! Wild and beautiful Ireland
We set off early from Colliers Hall, travelling west along the coast to Kinbane. Kinbane means white headland and it is here that Kinbane Castle was built about 1544 by Colla MacDonnell. In 1551 the castle was demolished by canon fire in a battle against English troops. Colla MacDonnell held strong and the attacks defeated, he died in 1558 and it is believed that his remains rest in a vault at Bonamargy Friary.
On to Carrick-a-Rede. A rope bridge spans a chasm some eighty feet deep connecting a small rock island to the North Antrim coast. It once consisted of a single rope hand rail and widely spaced slats which the fishermen would traverse across with salmon caught off the island. The single handrail was subsequently replaced by a two hand railed bridge and the current, caged bridge was installed by the National Trust during Easter of 2000 as a further safety measure. Once across we were rewarded by fantastic views. The walk down to the bridge was extremely scenic and the pathside was scattered with wild flowers.
Afer popping into Ballintoy Harbour, a quick look at Dunseverick Castle we walked down to the Giant's Causeway, a geographical freak caused by volcanic eruptions, and cooling lava. Legend has it that this was the work of the giant Finn McCool, the Ulster warrior and commander of the king of Ireland's armies.
A day of ruined castles and the next one we saw was Dunluce Castle, built by Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster and now little more than a ruin.
We then drove through a small Derry town where there were people lining the sides of the road, looking very grim. A bit intimidating but we learnt later that it was the in memory of the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” massacre.
We visited Bishop's Gate, Downhill and the Mussenden Temple. Set on a stunning and wild headland with fabulous views over Ireland’s north coast is the 18th century it is the former estate of the last Bishop of Derry. The property now belongs to the National Trust and all access is free to walkers. The lovely gardens of Bishop's Gate led to a windy plateau with Downhill Palace and the Mussenden Temple.
We drove back to Colliers Hall after a very full day.