The County Antrim on the northern shores of Ireland is all about extraordinary landscapes, ruined castles and one of the best whiskies in the world. Here's a list of some of its popular destinations that you shouldn't miss.
Giant’s Causeway, A World Heritage Site.
A series of volcanic eruptions in Northern Ireland 60,000 years ago saw molten lava cool rapidly into polygonal-shaped columns that look eerily manmade. About 37,000 basalt columns extend from the cliffs into the sea in fanciful formations reminiscent of a camel, a wishing chair, a harp and an organ. So much for the geological explanation; the Irish, of course, have their own. The biggest and bravest of the Irish giants, Finn McCool lived here with his wife, Oonagh. He built the causeway to fight his archenemy, Benadonner, who used to shout insults at Finn from across the sea in Scotland.
In 1608, King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips — a landowner and governor of County Antrim, Ireland — a license to distill and thus was born the world’s oldest distillery, between the Giant’s Causeway and Royal Portrush Golf Club. In the same village, the historic Bushmills Inn has magically recreated its origins as a 1608 coaching inn, replete with ivy-covered walls, fireplaces and secret doors hidden in bookshelves.
This castle is one of the most iconic monuments in Northern Ireland. Perched rather perilously on the jagged and dangerous Antrim coast, it has been a witness to a very important chapter in the history of the McDonnells of Antrim and North East Ulster. It was Sorley Boy’s grandson, the 2nd Earl of Antrim, and his wife who finally decided to abandon Dunluce. One not-so-fine evening in 1639 as the 2nd Earl of Antrim and his wife were waiting for dinner the kitchen, along with kitchen staff, fell into the sea. The castle has been abandoned ever since.
Flax Mills Traditional Crafts,
Marion and Hermann Baur demonstrate intricate weaves on a lovingly restored fly-and-shuttle mill. The Flax Mill on Mill Lane in Derrylane, in Dungiven, in Northern Ireland was lovingly restored by Hermann and Marion Baur. They are weavers and finishers of fine Irish linen and wool who operate a shop out of their mill. A visit to see their mill and their handcrafts is a unique experience, since there are only a handful of people left throughout Northern Ireland and Ireland who have kept the tradition of making items with only natural fibers such as flax and mohair and wool alive. A visit here will make it clear why Irish linen is still considered the finest.
The Ballycastle island is not only home to this unique lighthouse, but also one of the largest seabird colonies in the UK. Every year thousands of seabirds return to breed here including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and puffins. The sights and sounds of so many seabirds at such close quarters is an experience you’ll never forget and the RSPB NI team will be on hand to help you identify these winged wonders.