Departing Belfast and following the coastal road counterclockwise, I arrived at Carrickfergus castle. This place has historical significant since it is where various battles during the Nine Years War took place and where King William landed in Ireland. But most interesting, John Paul Jones, the American Naval Hero of the war of Independence, aboard the Ranger, captured the HMS Drake offshore; the first American victory in British waters. Further up the road I passed by the Londonderry Arms hotel in Carnough, once owned by Winston Churchill.
Continuing along the coastal road, are the famous geological formation known as the Giant’s Causeway. Upon arriving at a big parking lot, one boards a bus and is driven to the Causeway. It is very popular attraction and probable rates as high as Yellowstone in the USA; both have the same geological basaltic formations, the result of volcanic activity except that in Ireland, these are at the seashore. Some rare plant species grow around the rocks as seen in the last image below. Impressed? Well, I was expecting something bigger.
Derry or Londonderry, depending on what part are you in the political divide is the second largest city in Northern Ireland and witnessed the “The Troubles.” Old signs of the struggles are all over the city the depicting the historical events of the late 1990’s. Bu there are also newer happy ones replacing the old ones. Wounds of those days are still visible in the statue of Queen Victoria in the Guildhouse who lost her hands due to a bomb placed there.
Derry is an interesting city with lots of beautiful buildings and as other places in Ireland, no overcrowded or impaired by heavy traffic. They had done a great job of mixing the old with the new as in the Tower Theater below. Derry boast to have the only complete medieval walls of a city in Ireland and England…well…I had walked the walls in York and do not recall a break in the continuity of the walls And as with more cities in Ireland, there is always a monument to the fallen during the numerous wars of the British Empire; in this case in honor of the veterans of WWI.
Not far from Derry, is the Ulster American Folk Park that documents the Irish migrations to the United States. The buildings reflect exhibit the influence of the Irish migration to the United States. The park is located in a farm that was owned by the ancestors of the famous Mellon family that migrated to Pennsylvania.
Some of the structures in the park were dismantled in the USA and rebuilt here, such as the interiors of a Virginia store, a stone house from Pennsylvania and a brick house from Tennessee. There are also old Irish buildings that were moved here from Belfast. One of the buildings is an old photography studio that is still used for visitors have the opportunity to dress and pose as settlers. With much patience, the photographer was able to obtain a family photo. Little did they know that it was to find its way to the web.
On interesting item I observed was an outside metal rigging with a central geared wheel. At the end of the long pole a horse was attached that powered the rig. The geared wheel was connected to a metal rod that transmitted the rotations to the inside of a nearby house where grinding wheels were rotated to grind grains.