Attractions of Northern Ireland (Belfast & Derry Route)- Part 2

Posted by Niamh Allabyrne on the 6th of March 2014 at 09:35:07

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Northern Ireland is such a diverse region with so much to offer that I could not possibly fit everything into one post. So here is the second part about my impressions of Northern Ireland! Enjoy!
Bushmills Distillery, County Antrim
Ireland is whiskey-lovers paradise and a tour of the oldest Irish distillery is the cherry on the cake. Bushmills has had a licence to distil for more than 400 years now and is still producing excellent spirits.
They offer a guided tour where you can learn more about the water of life. Even though I am not a big fan of whiskey the tour is really cool and I learned a lot about the distilling process. They even give you small samples, which I enjoyed and which convinced me to give whiskey another try as it can hold more flavours than I ever imagined.
Obviously a distillery is not suitable for kids and children under 8 years cannot enter at all.
The old distillery is also said to be haunted. A ghost called the Grey Lady resides there and is looking for her husband. I did not meet her, but maybe she should look in the gift store the Distillery runs, where you can buy their tasty merchandise.
Bushmills Distillery, County Antrim
Dunluce Castle, County Antrim
The remains of this magnificent castle are located on a headland which makes for a stunning location. Crossing over an arched walkway you will have the chance to experience these beautiful ruins. Constantly fought over because of its tactical position, it was abandoned shortly after 1639 when part of the castle fell into the sea. Firstly documented in 1513 this castle can look back to a long a changing history.
If you are interested in architecture you will notice that there are Norman, Scottish, English and European influences in the buildings.
Underneath the Castle is a picturesque cave called the Mermaid’s Cave. You are not allowed to enter as it is very dangerous to access and only by boat but the pictures I have seen make me wish they would develop it so visitors can go there.
Dunluce Castle, County Antrim
Derry/Londonderry, County Londonderry
Derry/Londonderry was the UK City of Culture in 2013 and is the Music City 2014. If that does not convince you that Derry is a hotspot for creativity in Northern Ireland, then I don’t know what will! I especially like the musical tradition in Derry. There are lots of pubs offering authentic Irish music on every corner and the artist scene is also very inspiring.
Looking back to over 1450 years of History the only walled city in Ireland and the British Isles, the city has a lot to offer and explore. Of course the Troubles played an important role in the history of the second largest city in Northern Ireland. Hands Across the Divide is a statue playing a tribute to this conflicted past and I found it a very nice and hopeful reminder.
If you are in Derry/Londonderry you should participate in a guided tour of the walls. It is a very nice way to learn more about the history of the town and to take some cool pictures. Or just walk around by yourself and see Derry/Londonderry at your own pace. Derry/Londonderry is an attractive destination with events during every season, so whenever you feel like visiting a modern and innovative city -pop over!
Hands Across the Divide, Derry/Londonderry, County Londonderry
The Craft Village, Derry/Londonderry, County Londonderry
The Craft Village is a quarter in Derry/Londonderry which focuses on traditional handworks and locally produces food. It started as an idea to bring people back to the city to live there and has been a hit ever since and grown enormously.
There are several lovely shops selling you all the goodies you associate with Northern Ireland and Ireland in general.
The heart of Craft Village is the newly renovated square, where you can sit down under the heaters and enjoy the best hot chocolate in town. The cottage alongside the square is a venue for groups and can be rented. While we enjoyed our delicious scones there, we had some background music from a girl playing traditional songs on a harp. Really nice!
Ulster American Folk Park, County Tyrone
The Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh in County Tyrone is one of four museums that make up the National Museums Northern Ireland.
In the spacious park with roughly 30 buildings you can wander through history that spans over 3 centuries and crosses the Atlantic Ocean. The attention to detail in this museum is stunning; everything is recreated exactly as it would have been centuries ago. The employees are always helpful and eager to tell you the stories of the character they represent. Listen to their stories and grab some of the tasty treats they bake in the traditional way and hand out to the guest!
I especially admired the continuity of this open-air museum. You are starting in the birth place of Thomas Mellon, the founder of Mellon Bank, and experience the life of the Irish farmers. After that your journey will take you through a shopping district and over the ocean on a rebuild passenger ship till you reach America. There you will find yourself in settings similar to “A little House in the Prairie”.
It really is a great place to go and the effort they put into it is astonishing. During the year several events take place on the grounds, from Easter celebration to musical events or Halloween. During the summer they even have smaller animals in the park and in addition there is a fair showing rare, traditional animal breeds.
Shopping Street, Ulster American Folk Park, County Tyrone
These are still just a selection of things I liked best on my trips to Northern Ireland and there is much much more to explore. By the way, as I love to travel I am always glad for more inspiration so if I missed your favourite spot let me know!; )
Have a look at our Northern Ireland Self-Drive Tour if you want to discover Northern Ireland on your own!

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