Sketching Ireland #20

Made by Giants, A Flimsy Bridge and Harry Potter

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From the Dunluce Castle, we followed the coast on the Causeway Rd (A2) to the 9th leg of our itinerary tour in Northern Ireland. It was just a short jaunt but our vicarious (street-view) drive through scenic ocean coasts, wind swept grassy fields and sleepy fishing villages was more than satisfying. After we passed the touristy village of Bushmill, we arrived at our destination, a World Heritage Site.

Giant’s Causeway

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We had to park at the visitor centre and walked on an easy well paved trail that wound its way down a cliff. Visitors are then treated to about half a mile’s trek with panoramic scenes of the Atlantic crashing on rocks. We then came upon a small crowd of tourist carefully and gingerly walking out on a sliver of land that stuck out on the sea. They were walking on a causeway of an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, some of which had six to eight sides. My first thought was that the finger of land… that causeway… was mostly man-made and somewhat incomplete. As I looked out to the horizon, I could almost make out the English coast and wandered if a causeway could be constructed to bridge it. My thoughts was I really doubted it. So, who built the causeway? To my astonishment, the causeway was not made by any man, but the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption that pushed those stones up onto the surface.

Do you know why it’s called the Giant’s Causeway? According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet.

Carrick-a-Rede

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Not too far from the Giant’s Causeway is our next stop that is guaranteed to give you a fun and thrilling experience. We got back on the Causeway Rd until we turned left on Whitepark Rd. Four miles later, we came into Ballintoy, another tourist village with several bed & breakfast’s. From there, we drove Knocksoghey Ln then turn off onto Rope Bridge Ln. This narrow lane led us to a parking lot at the base of a cliff. Again, we had to walk on a trail that followed the edge of the ciffs until we came upon the tiny rock island of Carrick-a-Rede which means “rock of the casting” and a precarious rope bridge.

Carrick-a-Rede has the most famous rope bridge on the Emerald Isle. The bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755. In the old days, they would go on the island to lay their nets to catch Atlantic salmon. The rope bridge was the only way for them to bring their catch to market. Today, the bridge is used by thousands of tourists, but not me! With my vertigo, I would not dare. Hahaha…

The Dark Hedges

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For our third destination, we head in-land until we get to the Dark Hedges. The Dark Hedges is an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The trees form an atmospheric tunnel that has been used as a location in HBO’s popular television series Game of Thrones, which has resulted in the avenue becoming a popular tourist attraction.

In about 1775 James Stuart built a new house, named Gracehill House after his wife Grace Lynd. Over 150 beech trees were planted along the entrance road to the estate, to create an imposing approach.

According to legend, the hedges are visited by a ghost called the Grey Lady, who travels the road and flits across it from tree to tree. She is claimed to be either the spirit of James Stuart’s daughter (named “Cross Peggy”) or one of the house’s maids who died mysteriously, or a spirit from an abandoned graveyard beneath the fields, who on Halloween is joined on her visitation by other spirits from the graveyard. [contents from internet site]

When I started my sketch of this wooded avenue, I almost wanted to sketch in some of the characters of Game of Thrones. Because it looked so magical, I drew in the characters of Harry Potter instead.

In my next post, we’re going to Belfast.

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