The Northern Jewels of Ireland Tour - the northern coast to Belfast and down the east coast to Dublin
The last part of our journey around Ireland.
On Monday 3 November, we said goodbye to Donegal and travelled north into Northern Ireland to Derry (Londonderry). We took a walking tour with a local guide to see Derry’s medieval walls, the Diamond and St. Columb’s Cathedral.
The City Walls
Plaque on the wall -King James 11 put the city under siege in 1689 and did not breach the walls.
The gate built in 1789 to commemorate King James failure to take the city.
Bloody Sunday in 1972 when 13 people died when fired on by soldiers
Monument to those who died
Mural showing a school girl who was shot to death on this spot
The wall built during "The Troubles" to separate Catholic and Protestant communities.
St Columb's Cathedral built 1633
After lunch we visited the Giant’s Causeway, enormous hexagonal columns formed by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. The day was rather cold at 4 degrees Celsius and some light rain.
The scenery on the way to the Giant's Causeway
The Little, Middle and Grand Causeways
The Little Causeway
The Middle Causeway
The Giant's Causeway
Rather inclement weather
The Giant's Organ Pipes
The Centre is built to integrate with the environment
The Irish Sea with the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland in the background some 24 miles distant
Next was an overnight stay in Belfast. We had a drive around the city centre and other areas such as Falls Road and Shankill Rd. There is still a high wall separating these areas which saw much conflict during "the troubles".
Street view in central Belfast
Student accommodation near the university
Falls Rd and Shankill area is now a quiet neighbourhood but has many memorials, murals, the wall separating communities itself and an air of how terrible things must have been for the inhabitants for a thirty year period.
Bobby Sands MP died through a hunger strike when he was elected MP but not allowed to take his seat.
Bombay Rd was a long street that was cut off by the wall.
Checkpoints which were manned by British soldiers over the thirty years of "the troubles".
Later we visited the Titanic Centre and the shipyards where RMS Titanic was built in 1912. Titanic Belfast was a wonderful display showing us this famous liner through state-of-the-art displays.
Titanic Belfast centre
The statue - Titanic outside the centre
Inside the centre
The White Star Line crockery
In the afternoon we learnt about Ireland’s patron saint in the St. Patrick Centre before driving to Kingscourt to Cabra Castle hotel, built in 1760.
The Cathedral of Down
Display inside the cathedral
St Patrick's grave also has two other saints- St Brigid and St Columb
Marker for St Patrick's grave
Beautiful scenery between Belfast and Down
Scenery between Down and Kingscourt
Cabra Castle at Kingscourt built in 1670 was our accommodation for the night.
Our Tour Director Joe with Oscar the castle mascot. Oscar is an Irish Wolfhound
Inside the castle
Inside the castle
On Wednesday 5 November, we left the Cabra Castle and travelled the short distance to the Battle of the Boyne Centre to learn about the 1690 conflict between King William III and King James II. It is also called the battle of the 3 kings as William 111 and James 11 were present on the battlefield while Louis XIV of France provided troops.
Map of the Battle of the Boyne
Mansion built by a supporter of William 111 who was granted these lands. It now houses the Battle of the Boyne Centre and was built 30 years after the battle.
Our small group (17 people) gazing over the battlefield
the Three Kings
One of many displays
Cannon from the era
President of Ireland Bernie Ahern receives a flintlock musket from Former First Minister of Northern Ireland, Reverend Ian Paisley
Aussies on tour
In the afternoon we had a city walking tour around the historic town of Drogheda.
Former Franciscan Monastery is now an art gallery
This is the Barbican or Foreworks built in early Norman times to defend the inner city gates
Catholic Cathedral in Drogheda
Beautiful stained glass window and pipe organ
For our final night in Ireland we enjoyed dinner in the Wm Cairnes Gastropub with live musical entertainment.
Irish entertainment on our last night
Tomorrow we leave our hotel at 5.45am for our flight to Paris then a fast train to Amiens for our battlefield tour.