Other than a post about our visit to the Bushmills distillery, I think this is my last post about our most recent visit to Ireland. Luckily we have plans to return again fairly soon.
Our first day in Northern Ireland ended fairly early due to our being awake for over 24 hours. Jetlagged and tired from our drive and visit to the Giants Causeway, we ended up having an early dinner the night before. I had the most perfect salmon ever, caught that day, atop a bed of Mediterranean-style vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and spinach. It was a simple, clean meal, and I ate every bite. We enjoyed a Bushmills on ice by the hotel fire, I blogged about our visit to Belfast, and we were off to dreamland by 9.
The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to see some sites and to head home to Galway. First up on our list was Dunluce Castle, a beautiful site only minutes from our hotel.
Dunluce Castle (Irish: Dún Lios, “strong fort”) is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.
If you drive through the Irish countryside, you will see all sorts of crumbling buildings. Though not usually the size and grandeur of Dunluce Castle, many of them were previously monasteries, churches, castles, and Coast Guard stations. These are some buildings that were built, for the most part, to withstand the test of time!
As the above blurb about Dunluce Castle states, the castle was built upon some crazy steep cliffs which visitors can wander down, via some stony stairs. You can also head into the heart of the castle complex to look up at the castle and hills that sort of protect it.
This cave-like hole is actually under the castle. Hundreds of years of ocean waves chipped away at the rocks making it a dangerously beautiful little cove. We took heed when we saw more falling rock signs.
That very, very light land in the background in the above photo is Scotland. After we wandered around Dunluce for awhile, we got on the road to Derry, then started our slow journey toward Galway. On the way we passed through the beautiful hills of Donegal and into Sligo, Yeats country. The below photo shows the mountain Ben Bulben made famous by its uniquely flat top but even more well known from Yeats’ Under Ben Bulben. I am not only a nerdy former English major, but I had a concentration in Irish literature, specifically Yeats, when I was in college.
Stopping by Yeats’ grave in the Drumcliffe graveyard was a must. It was only when I was looking through my photos later in the day that I realized our visit was on January 28.
The very anniversary of Yeats’ death. . .coincidence? Or strange connection between me and W.B. Yeats?
All of this driving and beautiful scenery built up quite the thirst hunger, so we stopped at the Yeats Country Hotel. Like most Irish country restaurants, the setting was rustic and cozy.
We started with a pint of Guinness each, perfectly poured.
I had the seafood chowder which came in a huge bowl.
Served, as soup in Ireland always is, with brown bread and Kerrygold butter.
This meal was all I needed to want to curl up for a little nap on a chilly day. With my trusty driver at the wheel, I did just that, and I woke not too far outside of Galway to the view below.
Lovely. I may have said it before, but there are few things I love more than a sunset on the West coast of Ireland. I am also enamored with the leaps and bounds ahead of the US that Ireland is when it comes to the environment. Their hillsides have been dotted with windmills for many years, they have been seriously exploring ocean/wave power, they recycle EVERYTHING, and if you forget your grocery bags, you are paying handsomely per bag. No nasty plastic bags hanging from trees here because there are no plastic bags.
I can not wait to return.
Random Saturday Question: I spent quite a bit of time yesterday playing with my niece’s imaginary friend. Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a child? I had a tiger named Rugby