Cousin's Tour of Ireland travel blog

The coast of Antrim, Irish Sea

Beside the Irish Sea

Antrim Coast Drive

Terry and team left Belfast this morning in the van. We drove north along the Antrim Coast on one of the most beautiful, scenic routes anywhere in the world. Carolee was excited that almost the first place we would see was Carrickfergus (I wish I were.......hum, hum,lalala). It sits on Belfast Lough, about 11 miles north of Belfast and was originally a walled city. Parts of the wall survive near the center of the city.

Per Wikipedia: Carrickfergus became an inhabited town shortly after 1170, when Anglo-Norman knight John de Courcy invaded Ulster, established his headquarters in the area and built Carrickfergus Castle on the "rock of Fergus" in 1177.[7] The castle, which is the most prominent landmark of Carrickfergus, is widely known as one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland. The British peerage title of Baron Carrickfergus, which had become extinct in 1883, was bestowed upon Prince William on his wedding day on 29 April 2011.

We continued north along the North Channel which links the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, stopping occasionally to take pictures and marvel at the spectacular scenery. With the sea on our right and very steep and very green hills rising into the Irish mist on the left, all you could hear in the van was "Wow" and "Oh" and "Look over here". Somehow, sheep grazed on those hills with out falling right down onto the road. On the very north end of the island Scotland was sort of visible, a mere twelve miles away.

We stopped for tea at the Bushmills Inn. Bushmills is the same town where they make the famous Bushmills whiskey. The distillery is the world's first legal distillery. They got their license from King James I in 1608. We did not walk the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge because it was closed (construction) and because none were feeling that adventurous anyway.

Terry went off the track at out request to check out the Draperstown (Ballynascreen) area of Magherafelt in County Derry for traces of our Louden ancestors. We know that Thomas and Mary Jane Kennedy Louden were there in 1833 because their daughter, Mary Ann was born there that year. This fact is recorded in the Black family Bible which is in the custody of Edith Black Whitteker, a great granddaughter of Thomas Louden and Mary Jane Kennedy. This will require more research but at least we got a look at the area.

It was a long but very fun day. We were all tired when we arrived in Armagh and checked in at the Armagh City Hotel. The lobby of the hotel was large and seemed to be very busy all the time. The hotel had lots of signs promoting the facility as the place to hold Christmas parties. The one computer for guests had an out of order sign but I tried my credit card and the computer worked just fine, at least for email.

Armagh is Ireland's oldest city, if you call 6,500 years old. It is built on the foothills of the mountain range seperating Ulster from the West of Ireland. Armagh is Ireland's Ecclesiastical Capitol and is known as St Patrick's city. He chose the hilltop to Armagh to build his first stone church. Today Armagh has two St Patrick's Cathedrals, each high on a hill overlooking the city. One is the Catholic Cathedral (1840) and the other is the Church of Ireland Cathedral (13th century).

Carol and I had tickets to attend a lecture at the Irish & Local Studies Library in the evening. We all ate dinner at the bar in the Market Place Theatre. Afterwards, Carolee, Marge and BJ walked around Armagh and got lost. Carol and I took off with confidence to our lecture and got lost. We walked up steep cobblestone lanes which were narrow, dark and which meandered all around the Church of Ireland Cathedral neighborhood. I'm pretty sure these streets and lanes had not changed since the Middle Ages. We finally found the Library 20 minutes after the lecture had started. The doors were locked and try as we might, we couldn't get in. We gave up and took a taxi back to the hotel where we relaxed in the bar with the others and met Liam, the bartender.

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