Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and the Irish are taking good care of it. Once you get out of town, no billboards, no rusting cars, no corporate fast food.
I spent part of a week hiking through a lot of natural drama with hiking guide, Sean, and seven women from Germany, Slovakia and Austria. Sean is an Irish intellectual with a lot of stories about Irish literature and history and the natural environment. He can also sing an Irish ballad with the best of them.
On our first day, we hopped a ferry from the village of Ballycastle to the tiny Island of Rathlin, the closest point to the Scottish coast and loaded with history. Marconi’s first telegraphs were transmitted between Rathlin and the mainland. In the 13th century, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, hid there from marauding British soldiers. More recently, singer Mary Black was born there. Here is her moving anthem to Ireland, which she has sung for royalty and heads of state, including Bill Clinton. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRdDnpkR3AQ
One of the week’s highlights for me was an 11 mile hike along the Antrim coast to Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of spectacular volcanic formations that flow out to the sea. Getting to our destination took us across jagged cliffs, rocky beaches and gorgeous pastures.
We spent part of a day in Derry, which the English renamed “Londonderry” in the 17th century. More than 300 years later, the town’s name is still a point of contention. Derry is just inside of Northern Ireland and, with Belfast, the center of “The Troubles” and violence between the Loyalists and the Republicans. Like Belfast, Derry has amazing murals to commemorate the people who fought for independence and equality. Derry is lovely, with many historic buildings, a medieval wall around the old city and a gorgeous river.
Another hike took us out over moss and heather-covered hills to a promontory and then to a gorgeous beach.
AND…Ireland beat Italy in the play offs for the European Cup on Wednesday! This is really big news here and the team will play France on Sunday.
Best ever photos and exposition Kim!!!
What a magical and beautiful country! You’ve really captured it wonderfully.
Makes me want to draw a pint and dance a jig.
Thank you Vic for the encouragement as always!
It looks spectacular, Kim, what a place to hike! The Giant’s Causeway looks like Incan ruins. I can’t imagine thousands of puffins. We have puffins here, too, and once on a “Puffin Cruise” I volunteered on, we saw 14, which was a record for the year.
Wow. I didn’t know there were puffins in Washington. And yes the giants causeway does not look like a thing of nature!
Stunning scenery. And so much history that took place during our lifetimes. You did some serious hiking! I’m so glad you are seeing Ireland in such depth.
Excellent blog Kim!! It was great walking with you
Thanks for a wonderful week!