Composed back in May I have only just updated this…
What are you doing for the May Day holiday was a popular question over the kettle at work…um “going back to Northern Ireland” says I. For the weekend? Yup…and a few days extra I visited Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin whilst Eleanor did a tour of Dublin with my parents.
The wedding was of my Mum’s cousin’s son, Jonathan to his lovely fiancé Claire. The wedding in Belfast was followed by a reception in the Dunadry. A hotel which has seen many of our family’s wedding receptions. The evening’s entertainment consisted consisted of a Céilí. Eleanor danced for the whole set.
I had omitted to bring flat shoes to dance in so did so in my bare feet avoiding those guests in shoes! It was fantastic fun and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was also lovely to catch up with family which whilst only for a couple of hours is so important to me that Eleanor knows her family. Growing up away from family means that time at home is special. Reconnecting with family means that Eleanor is aware of people and she can put faces with names. What I think Eleanor can remember is very different to what is reality.
The wedding was a Sunday and so the Bank Holiday Monday, my Dad, a family friend and I went to the local new attraction, The Gobbins. When I say new, it isn’t really, as it was originally opened in 1902. The Gobbins coastal cliff face path in Islandmagee, Co. Antrim is a feat of engineering. Sadly it was closed at the beginning of the year because of a rock fall but it reopened shortly before I did it but it has since closed again on 20 June.
The original engineer Berkeley Deane Wise wanted to have an attraction that would bring hoardes of tourists to this part of this coastline that isn’t easily accessible. He hoped that with the extension of the trainline to Whitehead that people would come, and they did! It was closed before the Second World War due to financial difficulties of the trainline company though it did briefly reopen before finally closing in 1954.
Larne Borough Council sought funding and began work on the path finishing it in 2015. What I love about it is that they have kept as close to the original plans as possible and that in sections of it you can see the original metalwork.
Perhaps I am slightly biased and when the sun shines all places look amazing, but this part of the Northern Ireland coast is peaceful and stunningly beautiful. Wise knew what he was doing when he had this vision. These views out to sea have not changed in centuries. The boats travelling up and down have come and gone, from fishing boats bringing in the daily catch, smugglers using the caves, the sea trials of the boats built at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff including RMS Titantic and now the ferries to Scotland from Belfast.
When we were there, the tourists weren’t just Northern Irish but Europeans and Americans too. All tours were fully booked, each of us wearing a safety helmet and always escorted by at least one guide. The tour ends with a bus journey round Islandmagee ensuring glimpses of the set of Game of Thrones at Maghermorne Quarry.
All in all a great couple of hours spent only 20 minutes from my parents home. And value for money!!!! It is about 2.5 hours in total and £8.50.