Northern Ireland- Ulster

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Location

In Northern Ireland, the accent is distinctly different, the currency is pounds sterling but otherwise, the changes across the border are insignificant. A quarter of a century of bad publicity may once have rendered much of Northern Ireland a tourism no-go area but things have changed dramatically for the better. Today tourism is booming.

The rewards of a foray to the North are certainly worthwhile – the Antrim Coast road follows a stunning stretch of coastline, there are some fascinating early Christian remains around Lough Erne and Derry has one of the best preserved old city walls in Europe.

You have heard of the Glens of Antrim, the walls of Derry, the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, even the Harland & Wolf shipyard – now is your chance to visit.

The stunning scenery of the North West is matched by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the people. One truly can forget the cares of modern life by escaping to one or all of the five counties that comprise the North West Region.

The spectacular scenery and rich heritage of culture provide every variety of recreational activity from the arduous to the languorous – watercolour painting to mountaineering, golfing on pefect fairways to surfing the Atlantic rollers; horse riding in bracing winds to lazing in seaweed baths.

The Capital of Northern Ireland is the City of Belfast.

 

The 5 Counties of the Northern Ireland are;

CAVAN – The gentle drumlin scenery is a delight, the hilly landscape offer a glimpse of a shimmering lake, an ancient oak forest, or a welcoming traditional village peeping behind the brow of a hill. Cavan’s many charms reveal themselves unhurriedly, drawing the tourist with a magnetic attraction.

DONEGAL – Donegal is the most northerly county on the island of Ireland, the county of contrasts, stunningly beautiful….but still only three hours from Dublin. Wild rugged Atlantic shores and peaceful tranquil lakeland, dense woodland and wide open spaces.

Donegal is home to Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht (Gaelic speaking area) – where Ireland’s social and cultural traditions are safeguarded and eagerly promoted.  Irish is still widely spoken in everyday life and traditional music and traditions are very strong.

Quiet and unpolluted beaches look out on timeless islands like Rathlin O’Beirne, Tory and Gola. Mountains like the white-faced Errigal stand sentinel over forest parks and fish-filled lakes and rivers.

From Fanad to Fintown, from Gweedore to Glencolumbkille, from Dungloe to Downings, the Donegal Gaeltacht is full of scenery and secrets for you to discover. Accommodation is excellent at every level. Some of Ireland’s best holiday value is here in fine family hotels, guesthouses, holiday villages, caravan and camping parks, hostels and homes-to-let. But the Donegal Gaeltacht is also an activity place – just pick and choose between ultra modern leisure centres, deep-sea and fresh water fishing, adventure parks, horse riding, mountain climbing, walking, cycling, touring or golf galore and end the day in a Donegal singing pub or quiet lounge. It’s all here for you to enjoy. And now, Donegal Airport, with a daily schedule to and from Dublin, brings you right to the heart of this Gaeltacht holidayland.

LEITRIM – With the smallest county population in Ireland and a landscape that extends from the Shannon River Basin to the Atlantic Ocean the visitor is guaranteed a unique holiday experience. A county which is good for the angler is also good for the general tourist and those interested in wildlife. Beauty stands in place of industry and nature weaves an uninterrupted spell over all who visit.

MONAGHAN – Monaghan is a lively town with some wonderful architecture that can best be appreciated on foot. The landscape consists of gently rolling hills interspersed by small lakes and winding rivers, typical features of glaciation. Quaint towns and villages are scattered along the countryside with demure farmhouses nestling into the hillsides.

SLIGO – Sligo’s is a green and lush landscape, dominated by sheer limestone ridges such as towering Ben Bulben, very distinctively recognisable as a ‘typical Sligo’ shape.  It boasts spectacular sandy beaches at Rosses Point, Strandhill, Easkey, Enniscrone and Mullaghmore, many with EU blue flag beaches.

 

Attractions

The rewards of a foray to the North are certainly worthwhile – the Antrim Coast road follows a stunning stretch of coastline, there are some fascinating early Christian remains around Lough Erne and Derry has one of the best preserved old city walls in Europe.

You have heard of the Glens of Antrim, the walls of Derry, the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, even the Harland & Wolf shipyard – now is your chance to visit.

The North West boasts of many ‘hidden gems’ to be explored. The Region offers endless opportunities to immerse you in nature, culture and history.

A fact unknown to many is that the North West is also home to a number of magnificent monuments of which are older than the pyramids!
Visit the lunar landscape of the Giant’s Causeway, lurking below the gaunt sea wall where the land ends. The Causeway is a mass of columns packed tightly together. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Altogether there are 40,000 of these stone columns, mostly hexagonal but some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 40 feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 90 feet thick in places. Further down the coast, the stunning Carrick-a-rede rope bridge spans a gaping chasm between the coast and a small island used by fishermen. The terrifying eighty foot drop can be crossed via the swinging bridge – not for the faint hearted!

With the wide array of visitor attractions to choose from there is something for everyone…

 

How to get there

Traveling to Ireland couldn’t be easier with a wide range of ferry and airline connections, as well as excellent inclusive holidays from Tour Operators

 

BY AIR;   

International Airports –Belfast Airport, Dublin Airport – Knock Airport

BY ROAD;

Most visitors to Ireland who wish to tour the country either regionally or otherwise bring their own cars. Ireland is especially attractive to the motorist because of its scenic beauty and the comparative absence of traffic on its roads even on the main trunk routes between the cities and towns.

BY RAIL;

Rail services in Ireland are operated by Irish Rail. Rail services in Northern Ireland are operated by NIR.

BY SEA;

Ireland is served by a number of ferry routes, from the UK and France. You can bring your car or go as a foot passenger to six ports around the island

BY BUS/COACH;

Express buses from Belfast serve all the main towns and villages and there are excellent local bus services serving the cities and towns and their surroundings

 

Festivals

The Belfast Festival at Queens, which takes place every Autumn and brings together the very best of international talent and Dublin’s Theatre Festival which plays host to an eclectic mix of the world’s finest productions.

Food-wise, Ireland has many festivals and events throughout the year. Local fairs take place all over Ireland, where people come to sell their wares, listen to music and socialize.

 

Eating  Dining  Shopping

Dining in Ireland now offers a wide range of choices. Irish and European restaurateurs have opened high-class establishments, adding to a diverse range of restaurants that already includes Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and vegetarian establishments.

Local produce is a point of pride in the best kitchens everywhere and a growing interest in specialist production is reflected in the availability of products like hand-smoked fish and meats, baked goods and preserves, plus a wide range of organic vegetables and fruit, many of which are sold at markets as well as through ordinary shops.

 

Shopping


Shops are generally open
Monday to Saturday 9.00am to 6.00pm, with late-night shopping until 8.00pm or 9.00pm on Thursday at many of the larger shopping stores.
On Sunday main shopping centres and some of the larger department stores open from midday until 5.00pm or 6.00pm. Many smaller supermarkets in towns and villages also open

 

History

The first emigrants of the 1700s were mostly Protestant; Presbyterians seeking religious freedom, pioneers seeking land and opportunities. Known as the Scots Irish in the USA and Canada, these energetic, independent minded people produced 17 presidents of the United States of America and numerous business leaders.

In the 1840s, the Ulster counties were badly affected by the potato blight and ensuing famine. An even bigger wave of emigration followed. This time it was the poor and desperate escaping starvation.

By the end of the century, Belfast was one of the leading industrial centers of the United Kingdom, indeed the world, and the largest, most prosperous city on the island. Belfast’s most imposing architecture dates from this period; the magnificent Belfast City Hall exudes civic affluence and pride.

Northern Ireland also enjoyed a reputation for science and innovation, producing some of the most influential inventors of the era. The Ulster Museum and Transport Museum celebrate the contributions of Dunlop, Ferguson and their colleagues. But it was the White Star liners built by Belfast’s ship workers that epitomize this golden age. The world’s most impressive oceangoing vessels, they were the height of luxury and technology. The crowning achievement was the worlds most famous and ill-fated ship, the Titanic built in 1912.

Politics were on a collision course too. The British Government was under growing pressure to bring home rule, and in time, independence to Ireland. Tensions mounted as a large proportion of Northern Ireland’s population wished to stay within the British Union. Impending conflict was shelved with the outbreak of World War One. Northern Ireland, indeed Ireland as a whole, sent thousands of young men to the battlefields of France.

Following the Irish War of Independence, a border was drawn up in 1922 to accommodate the Unionist population of the North. 6 of the 9 Ulster counties remained part of the Union, forming today’s Northern Ireland, and the other 26 counties became the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland got its own local government and in 1933, imposing new government buildings at Stormont.

But the boom years were over. The Depression, new manufacturing rivals and the Second World War saw to that. And in 1941, the Luftwaffe bombed Belfast. The pilots overshot their targets, the city’s aircraft factories and shipyards, destroying residential streets and mills. There were hundreds of people killed, thousands were made homeless, and fires were so intense, rescue crews had to come from Dublin.

Post-war Northern Ireland was a quiet, relatively prosperous place and a picturesque tourist destination. But that all changed in 1969, as bombs and riots burst onto television screens around the world. This was the beginning of a dark period of violence and death. ‘The Troubles’, as the Civil Strife came to be know as, is now recalled in Belfast and Derry’s Living History Tours, finally ended with the ceasefires of the early 90s.

With the return of normality, Northern Ireland has blossomed. The economy is thriving. New industries are setting up business. Cities are being revitalized with millions being invested in regeneration. There is a new cultural vitality, pride and optimism. Instead of emigrating, our brightest graduates are staying. Tourists are back too, discovering the Irish hospitality, scenery and quality of life.

 

Useful telephone numbers

Emergency Number 999

Airport Information (Belfast) Tel; 0870 761 9603

Train station: (Belfast) Tel; +44 28 9089 9400

Tourist Office: (Belfast) Tel; 028 9024 6609

Holiday rents online:

National Transport Line

24 hour medical service

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