Experiencing Northern Ireland

Our first trip across the pond was to Ireland. During our stay in Dublin we took a few day trips through the countryside. After about a 5 hour drive, we arrived at the Carrick-A-Rede site in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, which began along a winding scenic coastal path. The path with the greenest of land to our right, and sounds of the crashing ocean to our left gave views of small islands and rocks descending into the ocean and the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland in view in the distance. It traced the edges of the cliffs, and at times had no railings at all.

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After a serene 20 minute walk, the path lead us down to steep steps onto the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. Just looking down those steps toward the bridge and crashing ocean below was a rush.

Patrick crossing the Carrick-A-Rede bridge

Patrick crossing the Carrick-A-Rede bridge

A bridge existed in this location since the 1600’s and was used by fishermen. It allowed them to reach a salmon migration route, since the waters were too rough to reach by small boat from the mainland. I’m not sure how sturdy the past bridges were built; I’m not sure if I’d want to know! Today’s is made of just woven rope and a wood plank across the center floor. It was sturdier than expected, but gave enough of a wobble to give a thrill to the more adventurous, and a chill to the faint of heart. Personally, I couldn’t stop smiling as I stared down at the crashing waters below; the bridge was unexpectedly exhilarating.

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After a glimpse of a full rainbow across the ocean, we headed west to the Giant’s Causeway.  The site was in the middle of a large construction project, so access was limited. Although we took a shuttle bus down to reach the Giant’s Causeway, it is walkable on a nice day. Once we came around the bend to the site, it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

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The rocks form columns, creating all sorts of shapes and structures. The structures were formed by molten lava from a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. Flat hexagon shaped stones form along the ocean side and also create a jetty-like path outward into the ocean. The rocks are wet and slippery from the waves that crash up, but it is a photo opportunity that many (including ourselves) risked getting swept into the ocean for. Our time was limited but we could have stayed staring into the ocean for hours. Be sure to ask about the tale of Finn McCool while you’re there.

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