Giant’s Causeway (Day 3)

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Ireland / Personal / Travel

Our last day in Dublin, so what do we do? Hop on a bus and head north!  But first, let me back up. While trip planning, we saw countless people suggesting Dublin didn’t need more than a day or two. Even when we shared our rough itinerary, including three nights in Dublin, people tried to change our minds. This did ultimately sway us and we wound up deciding to use Dublin as a “base” for two day trips (Glendalough and this one), only giving us one day to explore the city. In hindsight, Ryan and I could have easily filled at least another day exploring all that Dublin had to offer, but we were still really happy with our decision to take this day trip. I think it just means we’ll have to come back to visit Dublin again, sooner than later!

Okay, on to the good stuff. We started our day pretty darn early with another short hike to the Tourism Centre for our Giants Causeway/Northern Ireland Tour with Irish Day Tours. I was reluctant to book this tour initially, as it was one of those huge charter bus set-ups, but I was feeling pretty confident about things after having such a great experience with yesterday’s tour (we booked a smaller tour and got put onto a huge bus with a different company). By 6:30 or so we were on the road headed north. We made a quick stop at a really nice service station for coffee and snacks and from then on the drive was absolutely gorgeous…

Northern Ireland

A little while later, we pulled off in Larne for a quick photo stop and leg stretch. Sometime before the trip, I learned that my family has quite a bit of Irish history. Funny though, it wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to go back through the documents my dad shared with me and realized we made this little stop in an area they were said to be from. One of my very distant ancestors (the family of my great grandmother, who is a Blair) was said to have lived in Larne. My great grandfather’s side of the family (who are Livingstons) also came from Ireland. Lisburn, specifically. My 7th great grandfather came over in 1704 from Lisburn to South Carolina!

Larne, Ireland

I laugh when I look at these photos because I’ve always read shirts with huge logos, bright colors and what not make you look like a tourist… you know, if the gopro chest mount he’s holding onto don’t already give it away (nerd alert!). But hey, that’s what we are! Own it. Right? Next up was a stop at the Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge! Joe let us know it would be a 10-15 minute walk from the car park to the bridge…

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

and with views like this, who could complain?

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

This should give you the gist of the amazing scenery…

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and the number of steps…

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Finally, we reached the bridge, swinging 100 feet above the beautifully colored sea!

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

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You have to get a ticket to cross the bridge, if they cost anything, ours was included in the price of the tour. The man letting people through the gate was very adamant about only a couple of people going through at a time. He was also pretty strict about keeping the flow of traffic moving. He didn’t mind if you stopped to take a photo, but only if you didn’t obstruct others from getting through so have your cameras ready before you get onto the bridge.

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With the steep, narrow steps… we could see why!

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So, a little bit about the bridge! It was originally built by fisherman to check on their salmon nets, it connects the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Reed, 60 feet away. Unfortunately, due to years and years of over fishing, the bridge is no longer used by fisherman during salmon season and is primarily seen as just a tourist destination.

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge

I remember when I first came across photos of this place while trip planning and I’m so glad we decided to do it if not for this experience alone! The day was young through, our next stop was lunch at a little pub along the way before stopping to see Giant’s Causeway.

Giants Causeway Car Park

See that little, itty bitty bus down there? That’s where they dropped us off. Joe dropped us there, right by the water. We explored and took quite a few photos before taking a trail off an up to see some of the other rock formations. It was a long way up, but well worth the effort. Thank goodness for that cool Irish mist!

Giants Causeway From Where I Stand

Most have five and six sides, but some have four, seven and eight. There is supposed to be only one with three sides. (Happy hunting!)

Legend says Giant’s Causeway was formed by a 54 foot tall giant called Fionn mac Cumhaill who lived on the Irish coast with his wife Oonagh. When his Scottish rival, Benandonner taunted him from across the sea, Fionn hurled a chunk of the earth at him. Unfortunately, Fionn’s aim was off and the chunk of earth landed in the middle of the Irish Sea making the Isle of Man. Then, the ground from which he dug up the chunk of earth filled with water and became known as Lough Neagh.

Looking for a proper fight, Fionn built a causeway of large stepping stones across the sea all the way to Scotland where he saw Benandonner and decided to turn back and run home. As he left, with Benandonner following closely behind, he lost one of his boots sitting in Port Noffer, where it fell. When he returns home, his wife Oonagh helps him hide, disguising him as a sleeping child.

The story takes a humorous twist when Finn asks his wife Oonagh to help him hide. Clever Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and pushed him into a huge cradle, so when Benandonner saw the size of the sleeping ‘child’, he assumed the father must be GIGANTIC. Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway as he went in case he was followed.

And so it is said, this is the reason that the Giant’s Causeway exists in north Antrim, with similar columns at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish island of Staffa.

At this point, our tour was almost over. Our driver, Joe, was awesome. He did a great job narrating and sharing some really interesting history with us throughout the day and asked us how we’d like to get back down to Dublin. He offered a couple of options and our group chose to drive through areas where Northern Ireland saw some of it’s struggle.

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

Northern Ireland Peace Murals

We drove through some neighborhoods as well allowing us to see remnants of the segregation that occurred between Catholic and Protestants. It was really interesting to hear more about the conflict from someone who lived it.

Eventually, we found our way back down to Dublin for the evening. Our tour had kept us out pretty late and we were hungry by the time we got back to the Tourism Centre, so we figured now would be a great time to grab a quick meal and try out Leo Burdock, Dublin’s Oldest Chipper! It’s a quick, take-away spot with several locations throughout Dublin that came highly reviewed by many of our friends who had visited Ireland. Because of all of the raving, we had pretty high expectations. But, if I’m being 100% honest, it was my least favorite of the fish and chips I had in Ireland. It wasn’t bad, by any means, but it was HEAVY and I think I was just in the mood for something lighter that night. If you’re looking for something fast and want to experience a Dublin classic (there were tons of locals in line with us, so it’s not just a tourist-y spot) give it a go!

From there, we went to bed getting a great night’s rest. Tomorrow it was off to Killarney!

Want to read the rest of this series?

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