Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

DOWNHILL DEMESNE – COUNTY DERRY/LONDON DERRY – NORTHER IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

Downhill Demesne

Mussenden Temple

Mussenden Temple was built by Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry in honour of Mrs Frideswide Mussenden, the married sister of his cousin Hervey Bruce. The Bishop himself was also married and scandal was rife that an affair was going on. However, it is thought that they had nothing more than a platonic relationship. Sadly, Mrs Mussenden died at the age of 22, before the temple was completed. Bishop Hervey established a library in the temple and beneath the building a room for Catholic priests to say Mass – an example of his liberal attitude towards the Catholic Church.

Bofors Anit-Aircraft Gun, WW2: Colerainebc.gov.uk
Bofors Anit-Aircraft Gun, WW2: Colerainebc.gov.uk

This is another extraordinary spot in Northern Ireland with amazing views (never in short supply in NI).  This is a very expansive setting with walking paths leading to and from features.  We were again met with very few people; only a couple of occasions we waited out people traffic to take a photo.  The tower structure in the gallery below was both and ice house (on the bottom) and a dovecote (on the top).  There was plentiful indications of bird activity here.  The temple itself looks quite grand at the top of the sea cliffs.  It was closed for restoration work so we didn’t have an opportunity to go inside.

Downhill House

Downhill House was a mansion built in the 18th century for Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol at Downhill, Northern Ireland. The house was started in 1775 and was a wonderful building in its hey day with “as many windows as there are days in the year”. Inside was a huge library, walls painted with frescoes and a large collection of paintings hung in the corridors, including works by Vandyke, Raphael and Tintoretto. In one corridor there was also a great organ. However, there was a disastrous fire in 1851 and the library and many of the statues were destroyed, though most of the paintings were rescued. Downhill was restored between 1870 and 1874 by John Lanyon and was lived in by the Bruce family until 1922. During WWII it was used as billets for RAF men and women. It was sold in 1944, after which it fell into disrepair.

The Bishop’s House

Bishops House
Bishops House

The Bishops House at Downhill Demesne (also known as Downhill House or Downhill Castle) is an immense as well as impressive structure.  I can only image what it must have looked like in its day.  This photo helps some and the photos in the gallery below will give you more insight.

The Mausoleum was built a distance away from the house to the South.  Even at half its original height, it is still enormous.  The video below will tell you more about this grand structure; it’ll only take a wee bit of time (2:09) to watch.

More on the Mausoleum…

Lion’s Gate was one of the access points to the property.  Bishops Gate is the other access point.  We elected to not visit the Black Glen Pond and Belvedere areas of the property as time was ticking away and we had to be on our way…to the next area of exploration in the Republic of Ireland.  We very much enjoyed Northern Ireland.  If I could redo the trip, I would have stayed in Northern Ireland an entire week and spent another week in the Republic of Ireland.

Lion’s Gate

Lion's Gate

 

A few extra photos; pano’s from my iPhone

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see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland

BINEVENAGH & BEYOND – COUNTY DERRY/LONDON DERRY – NORTHERN IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

Binevenagh & Beyond

Downhill Strand (Beach) is part of an 11km stretch of sand and surf.  This stretch of beach is one of the most scenic in Ireland and visitors can enjoy views to Counties Donegal, Antrim and Londonderry.  Downhill Beach is used in the filming of Game of Thrones as Dragonstone, where the Seven Idols of Westeros were burned and Melisandre, flames dancing into the night sky, proclaimed: “For the night is dark and full of terrors.” – wikipedia

Downhill Strand is an impressive stretch of sand.  Had the B&B owner not been with us in the car, I would have never driven out on this beach at low tide through a somewhat vigorously-flowing shallow river.  It was worth the gamble.  A great view of Mussenden Temple (more on this in next post) from the beach.

Downhill Strand

From Downhill Strand, we traveled to higher ground to take in the sunset.  This location was very much off the beaten path and not on our itinerary.  Always engage the B&B proprietors and let them know what types of things you wish to see and do.  We were very thankful that Brian took the time out of his evening to guide us to the beach and then this overlook spot.  You cannot beat service like this.  Brian also shared countless facts and history about these places.  If traveling to Northern Ireland,  I highly recommend a stay with Kilmail County Chalet.

Magilligan is a peninsula that lies in the northwest of County Londonderry,Northern Ireland, at the entrance to Lough Foyle. It is a huge 79,000 acres coastal site, part British army firing range, part nature reserve. It gets its name from “MacGilligans country”, which formed a major part of the barony of Keenaght. – wikipedia

This was a sight to see indeed.  I never before imagined what just under 80,000 acres stretched out in front of me would be like.  The overlook is off of Bishops Rd only six minutes West of Downhill.   It is perfectly situated atop the basalt cliffs and offers magnificent views any time of day.  Besides all of the natural beauty, there is much World War 2 historical significance in this area as well.

Large numbers of American, Canadian and British forces were stationed at airfields at Limavady and Ballykelly to defend the north coast from German U boats. Army forces received pre-invasion training on Magilligan Strand in preparation for D-Day. – wikipedia

Bishop Road Overlook

see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland

THE GLENS OF ANTRIM – COUNTY ANTRIM – NORTHER IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

The Glends of Antrim

The Glens of Antrim, known locally as simply The Glens, is aThe Glens region of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It comprises nine glens (valleys), that radiate from the Antrim Plateau to the coast. The Glens are an area of outstanding natural beauty and are a major tourist attraction in north Antrim. The main towns and villages in the Glens are Ballycastle, Cushendun, Cushendall, Waterfoot, Carnlough and Glenarm.

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Toilet back rest

“An area of outstanding beauty” is an understatement.  We traveled through and around Ballycastle, Cushendun, Cushendall and Waterfoot.  In Waterfoot we stopped at a filling station to get some coffee and use the toilet.  Check it out – back rest and all.  Fancy.  From Waterfoot we headed West to Glenariff Forest Park.  From the park we navigated the side-roads atop of the glens all the way back to Ballymoney where we were staying.  The Gorse hedge rows lined most roads throughout County Antrim.  The were nearly in full bloom in mid-April.  The brilliant yellow flowers provided a pop of contrasting color to the lush green and drab brown that made up most of the landscape.  Baby lamb season was in full swing as too.  We stopped many times to see them throughout the trip.

see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland

KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE – COUNTY ANTRIM – NORTHERN IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

Kinbane Head

Kinbane Head wasn’t a planned stop; we just happen to see the sign  and decided to check it out.  This is a lovely location along the coastal road to stop and wander around. It is just a short mile off of the main road.  Prepare yourself for a bit of a hike.  There are lots of stairs. Take your time and enjoy the view in both directions. If it is windy in the parking lot be prepared for what it will be like sea-side.  The wind along the coast is a force to behold.  Be extra careful along the edges of steep drop-offs.  Kinbane Castle stands in ruin today; slowly waning away to ruble.

Kinbane Castle was built by Colla of the MacDonnell clan, the clan who also built many other castles and buildings in the area. This was the time when the MacDonnell’s were the most powerful clan along the Antrim Coast. It was completed in about 1547 but was destroyed in fighting with the English only eight years later. Colla himself died in the castle or the vicinity in 1558 and is believed to be buried in the Bonamargy Friary, not too far away. There is a story that a group of English soldiers were trapped during a siege of the castle. Fires were lit by the besieged to call for help and locals responded and arrived armed surrounding the besieging soldiers who were massacred in the area in or near a hollow cave under the castle called the “Hollow of the English.”  The castle was rebuilt and remained inhabited until the 1700’s. It was then abandoned and fell into decay. The only thing that stands today is the ruins of a small tower and few remnants of the wall.

see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland

GIANTS CAUSEWAY – COUNTY ANTRIM – NORTHERN IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

Giants Causeway

We drove out to the site of Giants Causeway our first evening in Ireland.  We were too exhausted to even think about venturing beyond the parking lot.  The wind and cold made our decision to turn around and find some dinner easy.

We returned to Giant’s Causeway on day 3 of our trip.  Kilmail Country Chalet was selected for our two-day B&B stay in the area because of its close proximity to sites we wished to visit multiple times.  We were 15 minutes away from both the Giant’s Causeway and The Dark Hedges.  We arrived early enough to have all the causeway to ourselves.  It was a beautiful morning.  Blue skies with lovely clouds overhead.  We walked around photographing this amazing wonder for almost two hours.  Cyndie and I both agreed that we could have easily spent an entire day here.  There is just so much to see and photograph at this natural wonder.

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.  It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site  in 1986, and a national nature reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant’s Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.  The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres (92 ft) thick in places.

Much of the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.  The remainder of the site is owned by the Crown Estate and a number of private landowners.

see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland

CAUSEWAY COST – COUNTY ANTRIM – NORTHERN IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

Arriving in Ireland

It was a relief to land in Dublin after being on the move since early afternoon the day before.  I didn’t get any sleep on the flight.  The excitement of being in Ireland perked me up a bit as did the nervous anticipation of loading up our rental car and heading out on our way.  It was a bit of a bumpy start as we did not know that a diesel automatic car turns off when you step on the break.  It was quite baffling, but after a few occurrences we assumed it to be normal and continued on away from the airport.

All was going fine for an hour or so into our journey until we put the town where we’d be staying into the TomTom.  We didn’t realize how to change counties (Dublin = Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Ballymoney = Northern Ireland).  Turns out there is a Bally-something-or-other in the ROI too.   After driving in circles a bit and abandoning any dependence on the TomTom, we resorted to a paper map and information gleaned from Google Maps before our mobile hotspot (which we also rented with the car) quite working because we crossed over into Northern Ireland.  Off to a smashing start.

Directons
Directions

Driving through the Irish countryside trying to locate you B&B while completely exhausted is an experience.  At this point in the trip I was realizing why it was recommended to stay the first night in-country in a hotel in Dublin.  To late.  The frustration was further exacerbated by stopping to ask for directions.  When you are not used to the accent, it is very difficult to understand much.  Thankfully the nice shop keeper and local farmer were able to ascertain our desired destination and recorded the direction on a piece of receipt tape.  The written word was a relief to see; shortly we were back on track…and actually not far from our destination.

The Causeway Coastal Route between the cities of Belfast and Derry~Londonderry is a kaleidoscope of natural landscapes, imposing cliffs, bubbling mountain streams and gushing waterfalls. The route starts in Belfast and will take you through the gorgeous Glens of Antrim towards the famous Giant’s Causeway.  The highlight is the odyssey that is the Giant’s Causeway, 40,000 basalt columns jutting out into the ocean.
~www.ireland.com

Causeway Coastal Route

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Our first experience with the coast of Northern Ireland was awe-inspiring to say the least.  After checking into our B&B just a wee bit up the road from Ballymoney we headed out to find a place to have dinner.  Our first sight of the coast was at the end of Ballybogy Road by The Royal Court Hotel.  There is an access road to the beach and the White Rocks.  The wind was gusting at almost 40 mph; on the beach; it was easy to imaging what a piece of metal being sandblasted must endure.  It was difficult to stand there and view the beautiful coastline.  The photo above is from the coastal road East of White Rocks.  There wasn’t any sand storms up on the coastal road which made it easier to take a photo.  The wind sure made it feel chilly too.  If my math is correct, 45 degrees and 40 mph winds feel like 19 degrees.  Brrrr.

We continued on down the coast scouting out sites to visit the following morning.  It was getting late, it was windy, cold and we needed some dinner before we collapsed.  We returned to The Royal Court Hotel where we dined on fish and chips with a pint of Guinness; it was divine.

Kilmail Country Chalet

After some much needed rest at Kilmail Country Chalet BreakfastKilmail Country Chalet and their delicious traditional Irish breakfast we made our first visit to The Dark Hedges before setting out to explore the coast some more.  We visited the following sites by heading East along the coastal road.  We did visit Giants Causeway as well, but I am leaving that for the next post as it deserves it very own.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle 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.

Dunseverick Castle Ruin

Dunseverick Castle Ruin is situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, near the small village of Dunseverick and the Giant’s Causeway. The Castle and the peninsula on which it stands were given to the National Trust in 1962 by local farmer Jack McCurdy. The Causeway Cliff Path also runs past on its way to Dunseverick Harbour to the east and to the Giant’s Causeway to the west.

White Park Bay

White Park Bay is a bay and three-mile long beach located near Ballycastle, County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland, along the Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route.  Sheep and cattle graze the hills and beach along the bay, which has been under the care of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty since 1938.  It is situated in the townland of White Park.

Here is a view of Ballintoy Church from the coastal highway.

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see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland

THE DARK HEDGES – COUNTRY ANTRIM – NORTHERN IRELAND #‎DiscoverNI‬

My wife Cyndie and I took an amazing trip to Ireland in April 2016.  Arriving back home smack-dab in the middle of Spring delayed photo processing significantly.  So many things to get down in the yard as well as planting our garden.

The Dark Hedges

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A wee bit of hail fell

My first post of Ireland photos will begin with a favorite location in Northern Ireland, The Dark Hedges.  The beech tree-line road was already one of the most photographed natural landmarks on the island of Ireland.  This tourist attraction recently achieved global prominence after it appeared on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.  In January 2016, Storm Gertrude damaged several of the 200+ year old trees.  The site is still a vision to behold, but it is a fraction of what it once was; only 90 of the approximately 150 trees remain standing.

Kilmail Country Chalet Breakfast
Kilmail Country Chalet Breakfast

We had two opportunities to shoot this natural wonder.  Our first view of this natural marvel was the morning of day 2 of our trip after a hearty traditional Irish breakfast while we waiting out a brief storm where a wee bit of hail fell.   When we arrived at The Dark Hedges it was everything but dark.  The sky was bright and full of clouds; the remnants of the earlier hail shower still lingering.  The harsh sun cast deep and heavy shadows.  You can easily see the gaps that Gertrude made here.  Stay tuned for many more Ireland posts to come.  Here are the shots from two different day at The Dark Hedges.

We made another visit the morning of day 3 before departing the area and heading West.  The light was dramatically different.

see also:
THE DARK HEDGES | CAUSEWAY COAST | GIANTS CAUSEWAY | KINBANE HEADLAND & CASTLE | THE GLENS OF ANTRIM | BINEVENAGH & BEYOND | DOWNHILL DEMESNE – MUSSENDEN TEMPLE & BISHOPS HOUSE

See more of Republic of Ireland 

See more of Northern Ireland