Leaving Ireland was hard. We were excited to move on but saddened that we had to leave. I guess that’s true for most all travelers that continue on to the next destination.
Without a car in Ireland, we were limited in what we could see on our own. I had really wanted to make it up to Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, but by the time we made it over to Castlebar, it didn’t look like it was going to happen.
We were, however, planning to pass back through Dublin for a few days on our way to Scotland, and Jake found this wonderful day trip via train and bus to Northern Ireland. We would get to see Giants Causeway after all!
Why Giants Causeway?
From the moment I first saw a photo of this natural wonder, I knew I wanted to see it for myself. Perfectly shaped hexagons leading as steps into the northern Pacific was just too amazing to pass up.
What it is: 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. *Wikipedia
And you know something as ancient as this in Ireland comes with its own lore involving giants and a bridge to Scotland of course!
It’s like a big playground!!!
The little taste we got makes me really want to see more of Northern Ireland. While it shares the land and has this very similar feeling as the Republic of Ireland, it also feels completely different at the same time. Is that even possible?
The history of the north and the south is a dramatic one and one of great divide even today. I was really interested in learning how much Scotland settlers and immigrants shaped the north as well. Many Scotts were brought over to populate the area as well as to ensure that more of the population were loyal to the British crown. This story goes back for centuries and you can still feel it today.
However, Northern Ireland seems to be making it work for now. Of course, this is only what we could observe and were told by our tour guide, I’m sure the truth is much more deep, complex, and sensitive than what we could take in at the surface.
Corny Tour Guides
On a lighter note, we’ve had some wonderful tour guides in Ireland. I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t share a bit about this particular tour guide. He really loved telling jokes… usually at the expense of us trying to learn something. It got to the point that we pretty much stopped listening to his stories altogether. Not really a good quality to have in a tour guide.
“See that row of houses along the right here? And that cemetery on the left? No one living in those houses can be buried at that cemetery. And do you know why?
“Because they’re still alive of course!”
HOURS of making the face on the right…
The breaking point for me was this one:
Driving through a gorgeous town along the coast, he says, “Ah, see here! The man who invented the crossword puzzle is from here. It’s true, you can look it up. Now, he was born here but lived most of his life in England. When he died, he had his body brought back home. Look you can almost make it out… ” he slows the van down and points over to a modestly sized cemetery, “See that tall headstone along the back? Well, he’s buried just three over and two down.”
*insert groans from the entire van here*
I never believed another word he said….
Other than overly corny tour guides, the day trip from Dublin has been one of the highlights of our time here for sure.
Have you been to Northern Ireland? Where else should we check out next time?