The beauty of retirement is that you can take a trip, whenever you want, even at short notice so we decided to extend a wedding invitation into a trip around the North of Ireland.
Last week my husband and I went to Ireland for 8 days. We were going to a wedding (the daughter of our bridesmaid!), and decided to turn it into a short trip. I was born and brought up in Northern Ireland, but like many of my schoolfriends, went away to university and never went back to Northern Ireland to live.
The wedding was at Larchfield just outside Lisburn. The venue was amazing, unfortunately the happy couple got a little damp, and we didn’t get to see as much of the gardens as we would have liked. The staff were great, really helpful and the catering team from Janes Kitchen were amazing, the food was fantastic! A great day.
The next day saw us in Belfast visiting family, more lovely food at Royal Belfast Golf Club (There’s starting to be a theme here…), and the next day we had a worthwhile meeting with our financial adviser, before we set off for the rest of our trip. The good news is that if we keep spending at our usual rate we will not run out of money, and in fact will be more concerned with Inheritance Tax. A nice problem to have, but I still worry about future nursing home fees… (hence my aim to increase our income)
So off to Derry ~ Londonderry, a city with a ‘troubled’ past. From fighting in the 1600’s (Great, free, exhibition at The Guildhall) to its more recent well document events. Not to mention a disputed name. We had a great walk round the city walls, with Derry City Tours. The guide suggested that the best name for Derry ~ Londonderry was Legenderry – a far more appropriate name I feel. The Troubles were mentioned as you would expect. There is no doubt that the Troubles affected every single family in Northern Ireland, regardless of your politics / faith. I really don’t think anyone was untouched. I know my family and I were all impacted by it. It had a huge influence on my teenage years. We had booked a self-catering room, it was pretty basic, but clean, the host was really friendly and helpful, and it really did win on location, just a few minutes walk from Derry Walls, Chamberlain House The other guests were great and it had free wi-fi and parking. Couldn’t ask for more…..
The next day we had a great trip round Donegal – the Inishowen 100. Lots of wee roads following the coast. Stunning views. These are taken at Malin Head, the most northerly part of Ireland. Not surprisingly it was blowing a gale, and we had a hard time keeping our feet! The EIRE 80 dates from World War II, to let pilots know they were flying over the neutral part of Ireland
We drove round further and got this lovely view of the narrow divide at the neck of Lough Foyle
and just for completeness, here is one taken the following day on the other side of the Lough, at Magilligan Strand
Brunch was taken at a lovely wee cafe en route in Ballyliffin Nancy’s Barn. The food was amazing, and we bought some bread to take back with us.
Our host William, at Chamberlain House recommended Quay West for our evening meal. It was mobbed and we had a 15 minute wait, but it was worth it, the food was great. Enhanced by the fact it was Tuesday, and food and drink is half price on a Monday and Tuesday – result! An excellent recommendation. Thanks William!
The next day saw us driving East towards Portrush, via Magilligan (picture above), up a exceedingly steep road near Downhill, where we got a great view along the coast taking in Castlerock, Portstewart and Portrush
We had a great few days at Portrush at a friend’s apartment, saw some friends and relatives, drove along the coast to Ballycastle, with a stop at Ballintoy Harbour. What I remembered as a lovely quiet wee village is now buzzing, because it was pictured in Game of Thrones, and is now on the Tourist Route! The tour bus has to stop at the top of the hill, because the road is so small, twisty and steep, and everybody has to walk down to the harbour (and back up – not for the faint-hearted!)…. And here is another favourite Game of Thrones scene – Dark Hedges, just outside Stranocum.
A few of Portrush. It’s on a peninsula surrounded by a 1 mile beach on the West, and a 2 mile beach on the East. There are some amazing beaches on the North Coast, Benone, Portstewart, Portballintrae, White Park Bay to name but a few….
Then we finished off with a ferry back to Scotland, and thankfully a flat calm sea, on a lovely sunny day.
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