Those of you who know me (aka, every reader of this blog…) will know that I’m currently on exchange at Trinity College Dublin. Knowing this, it shouldn’t surprise you that while I’m studying here I’m determined to travel as much as possible. (And take lots of artsy photos while I’m at it.)
I’m a sucker for castles and pretty views, so when the International Students’ Society at Trinity proposed a trip to Northern Ireland, I was sold!
Stop #1: Dunluce Castle.
After a seemingly endless bus trip, you can imagine my relief upon seeing this sign…
…and this view.
A little history lesson: Dunluce Castle was originally built in the early 1500s by the MacQuillan clan. When they lost a few major battles, it was taken over by the MacDonnal clan, who stayed there until their eventual impoverishment following another major battle in the 1690s. (Fun times for all.)
Now it’s mostly in ruins, but if you’re as excited about any and all things castle as I am, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Game of Thrones fans might also find these views familiar: you’ll know it as House of Greyjoy. (Disclaimer: I am not a Game of Thrones fan and I Googled this to be Hip And Cool.)
Stop #2: Giant’s Causeway.
The story behind these rock formations is that, back in the olden days, an Irish giant named Finn mac Cumaill wanted to do battle with another giant, Benandonner, over in Scotland, so he built stepping stones across the water to go face him.
However, once he realized how massive Benandonner was, he ran away. His wife then disguised him as a baby; once Benandonner, hot in pursuit, saw how big the “child” was, he decided the father would be too massive to face and ran home again too, tearing up the stepping stones as he went.
Or something about lava cracking as it dried. I prefer the first explanation.
Stop #3: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
I won’t lie: when I heard the words “rope bridge”, I was expecting this part of the trip to be a little scarier. It conjured up an image of a single rope, swaying in the wind, casting unworthy travellers down to the river troll below…
No? Maybe that’s just me.
Regardless, this was not to be. The view was beautiful, though. (Did this really need to be said?)
Something else that struck me was the lack of fences. I recently visited the Scarborough Bluffs back home in Toronto, and there were endless signs and fences warning of the crumbling cliffside. My friend and I were even chased away by the police for daring to duck underneath them (…oops).
Here, however, the attitude is much more lackadaisical. There were railings along the walking path, but not a single fence or warning sign did I see near the cliffs (let alone police cars chastising tourists).
The last item of note: it did not rain once. Not even one drop. In a country where the weather routinely goes from total sunshine to stormy in 0.2 seconds, this was perhaps the most exciting part of all.