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Archive for northern ireland

Grandeur in Belfast

By Linda Tancs

Barnett Demesne is a historic estate-turned-public park in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It features a stunning Georgian mansion, Malone House, last owned by William Barnett, for whom the park is named. The estate grounds remain relatively unchanged since the 1820s and comprise marshland, meadows and woodland. Go now and you might catch some of the 70 species of wildflowers growing in the meadows. The grounds are popular with walkers and cyclists.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Royal Digs in Northern Ireland

By Linda Tancs

An official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle in County Down has undergone a massive restoration not only to the Georgian house but also to the gardens, featuring a remodeled Walled Garden and a previously unseen Lost Garden. Entry to the manor is by guided tour only, where visitors will see the State Rooms, including the Throne Room, scene of the Queen’s coronation ball in 1953. The house is also the home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. After the 45-minute house tour, be sure to leave plenty of time to meander the 100-acre garden.

An Arduous Trek in Europe

By Linda Tancs

Are you fit enough to climb 50 flights of stairs and walk a very steep 1 in 5 gradient? If so, then the Gobbins Cliff Path in Northern Ireland may be just for you. It’s a dramatic coastal walk erected over 100 years ago along a cliff-face in Islandmagee and one of the most unique things to do in Northern Ireland. Available only via a guided tour over two hours in length, the trek takes you along a narrow path hugging the cliff comprising bridges amid the crashing waves of the North Channel, hidden tunnels under the Irish Sea, rugged staircases carved into the cliff and caves that were once home to smugglers and privateers. If you’re not up to the task, fret not. The visitors’ center provides ample history on the walk, and an hour-long sea tour from Ballylumford Harbour packs stunning views.

The Narnia Trail

By Linda Tancs

Acclaimed writer C.S. Lewis is the author of the fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Although he spent much of his life in England, he never forgot his early life in Northern Ireland, the source of his inspiration for the classic tales thanks to the striking landscapes in the Mourne Mountains (particularly that part of the village of Rostrevor overlooking Carlingford Lough). At Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor you can join the Narnia Trail, entered through—what else—a wardrobe. The Narnia legends are interpreted along a short family loop trail, leading visitors to several stations with themes including The Tree People and The Beavers’ House.

A Lone Survivor in Belfast

By Linda Tancs

The only major naval surface engagement of World War I, the Battle of Jutland was fought by the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet against the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet. Although both sides claimed victory in this indecisive battle celebrating its centenary this year, the spoils clearly go to the British as they lay claim to the lone surviving ship from the skirmish. Now open as a visitor attraction in Titanic Quarter, Belfast, HMS Caroline has undergone extensive restoration to enable visitors to experience life at sea through state-of-the-art special effects and hands-on interactive exhibits. The historic vessel rounds out the maritime experience in Northern Ireland’s capital city, which includes Titanic Belfast, located in the heart of Titanic Quarter. The world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, it tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s through her construction and maiden voyage and subsequent place in history.

The Winterfell Experience

By Linda Tancs

Show enthusiasts know that Game of Thrones was filmed at Castle Ward, an estate on the shores of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. For those desiring to leap into that dynastic fantasy world, a replica of Winterfell Castle’s archery range has been recreated where the filming originally took place. You can dress up in character costumes from the show, tour the movie set, stand exactly where characters Jon Snow and Robb and Bran Stark stood, and enjoy the thrill of firing live arrows, all courtesy of an independent adventure tour operator on the premises. They aim to please.

Tall Ships Sail Into Belfast

By Linda Tancs

Belfast’s Maritime Festival this weekend is all the more special as Belfast hosts the final leg of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009, a 7000-nautical-mile race that began in April at Vigo in the northwest corner of Spain. The ships will be berthed along Queen’s Quay, Abercorn Basin, Donegall Quay and Albert Quay, presenting a spectacular array of square-rigged and modern-rigged vessels with and without spinnaker-like sails. It’s anchors aweigh on the afternoon of 16 August. The best viewing will be along the County Down and County Antrim coastlines.

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