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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:03 am 
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My wife found really inexpensive tickets from the US to Belfast so we took the plunge and bought them. That's about as far as our planning goes. We'd like to do a week's driving trip around Northern Ireland and a bit of adjacent Ireland, and we're open to suggestions. We're more interested in small towns and natural settings than in big cities although we'll want to see some of Belfast too. Luxury hotels not needed-- more budget lodgings would be great. Pubs with open sessions would be a bonus. This will be the week of June9-June 16.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:27 pm 
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Hard to beat the northern and northwestern coasts for beauty, in my opinion. You could drive through the Glens of Antrim, on to the coast, and see many beautiful ruins of famous castles including the stunning Dunluce Castle. The (Giant's) Causeway Coastal Route will take you to most of these.

The Causeway Coastal Route ends in Derry; from there you can drive west into Donegal, ruggedly beautiful. Or south through Tyrone and Fermanagh. The Upper and Lower Lough Erne lake district is one of my favorite places in all Ireland.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:27 pm 
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The Antrim Coast Road is something worth travelling. It's one of the "Famine Relief" works - and you can see why. You would not be naturally inclined to build a road along the coast in that position. But the views are stunning.
I have a soft spot for the Ards Peninsula. It's very Protestant, which may deter some people, but it's lovely country and there are good beaches - look out for Bangor and Millisle. Donaghadee still has its "famous" lighthouse (and you can find a reference to the town in the song "Mick Maguire"). You can get dulce there still, although it's not a patch on what it used to be.
There is a stately home called Castleward inland of the Ards Peninsula, which is remarkable for its architecture being both Classical (on one half - the gentleman's half) and gothic on the other half (the lady's half). There is a singular door which is classical on one side and gothic on the other. And a lovely tromp-d'oeil of a violin hanging on a door - I can't recall if it's the same door.

Carrickfergus castle has long been a favourite castle for me. It's the only true Norman Castle in Ireland, buit by John de Courcy, who styled himself "Warlord of Ulster" with the help of his Manx Warrior Wife (and her army). King John Lackland was not at all pleased at this state of affairs and landed in Waterford with an army, fought his way north and made de Courcy swear allegiance (again) and placed someone else in Carrickfergus. You can get lovely guidebooks there with all the history - including the occasion when a besieging army sent a group in to parley with the starving besieged - who ate the attempted parley party. One of the guidebooks is in Scots - which apparently is an attempt to construct a separate identity for Ulster. That's a bit sad - but the Scots Guidebook is hilarious. Oh, and they have a mannequin of King John sitting in the garderobe!

Belfast is a lot more of a tourist attraction these days, and the Titanic exhibition is worth a visit. There are some good places to eat in Belfast these days, and I recommend a place called "Home" in Wellington Place, opposite the Linenhall library. Oh, if you like books, the Linenhall library is something else. It has reference books going back to the eleventh century, there on the shelves for you to browse!

You might be able to tell I'm from Belfast. Never did make it to Derry, although I've been as far as the Giants Causeway a few times, and around Donegal. One day. But then I'm living in England now.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:58 pm 
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Innocent Bystander wrote:
Carrickfergus castle has long been a favourite castle for me. It's the only true Norman Castle in Ireland, buit by John de Courcy, who styled himself "Warlord of Ulster"


It is a really nice castle, and in excellent condition. St. Nicholas Church just inland of the castle is also worth a visit. It's nearly as old as the castle; Norman architecture and beautiful stained glass windows.

I once lived in Carrickfergus, in a flat above a butcher shop, just across the alley from St. Nicholas. My view every morning out the window was the church and the main keep of the castle visible behind it. Lovely times.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:08 am 
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There's a chap I know who used to live in Carrickfergus. He is a photographer, and found himself a bit limited there. He's moved to Glastonbury, and he's opened a business there. I have some of his work up on my walls.

http://www.kevpearson.com/dawn-workshop

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:32 am 
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You may get some ideas from this documentary exploring the border that aired on RTE last night : An Teorainn.

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