On Wednesday, June 24th, we left the sectarianism of Belfast and drove to the northern coast of Ulster.
Dark Hedges is one of the most photographed natural sites in Northern Ireland. These beech trees were planted by the Stuarts in the 18th century to greet guests coming to their Georgian mansion. Over the years they have grown across the lane and created a natural bower. Of course, there’s a ghost story to accompany this haunting place: the grey lady is said to float down the lane and vanish after the final beech.
Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, was built between the 15th and 17th centuries, and can be found perched on a basalt mound overlooking the North Channel. Clans named MacDonnell and MacDonald owned this castle in its day. It is said to be the inspiration for Cair Paravel in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
On our journey we made a wish list of foods and libations to taste while in Ireland. Scones with clotted cream was one of Felicia’s desires. Across from the castle, Felicia found a cafe that served scones with fresh whipped cream, different from clotted but nonetheless. they were incredible.
The Giant’s Causeway was next. This world heritage site is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The result is a natural phenomena of rectangular basalt columns, approximately 40,000 of them. It gets its name from the rich Irish myths and legends surrounding Fionn mac Cumhaill, a giant-sized warrior.
Our last stop was Carrick-A-Rede, an island connected to the mainland by a rope bridge, suspended 100 feet in the air. This bridge was erected by salmon fishermen some 350 years ago. We arrived an hour before closing and the tiny mountain of an island was peacefully quiet apart from the birds’ constant calls. The views were spectacular. Leah worked on a watercolor, Felicia and Daria rested. I wandered. It was a restorative place.