As I continued on a bus tour of the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland (part one can be read here) we left the Glens and entered the North Antrim Coast area. (All photos will enlarge if double clicked on)
The bus stopped at the Old Bushmills Distillery in the town of Bushmill. Here we took a short tour and sampled some of the very smooth Irish whiskey. The word "whiskey" comes from the Gaelic language words "uisce beatha," which means "water of life." The Old Bushmills plant is the oldest distillery in the world! It's "Grant to Distill" was officially given in 1608, but it is suspected that whiskey was made here for at least 200 years before that! The Old Bushmills brand is a blend from a single malt and a single grain. I had visited the distillery once before with my husband --you can see that visit on this link. I did not partake in the sampling of any whiskey this time as I wanted to keep my senses for what was ahead.
We stopped again for a view of the mystical looking ruins of Dunluce Castle. The castle stands on a 100 ft high basalt cliff with a sea cave running underneath it.
Dunluce Castle has a rich and varied history, connected with such names as Richard de Burgh, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and Sir John Perrott, running up to its last occupant, Randall MacDonnell, who was the second Earl of Antrim.
Legend has it that in the early 1600's the castle's kitchen broke off and plunged down into the sea. The kitchen staff plummeted to their death upon that fateful day and thereafter the castle's countess refused to live there any longer and moved to a residence inland. After the mid 1700s the deserted castle fell into ruins.
Dunluce Castle was fought over many times in it's past and it is wrapped in myths and legends, one of which is that mermaids lived in caves at its base. On a clear day you can look over the expanse of ocean and see County Donegal. The castle was given to the Northern Ireland government by the Earl of Antrim in 1928, to be preserved as a National Monument.
Now we entered the Causeway Coastline where the sea was rough and misty the day we visited.
We walked along the shore until we reached The Giant's Causeway, which is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
The Giant's Causeway was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
In my opinion it is one of the most remarkable places I've ever seen and I was thrilled to see it again!
As with many places of interest in Ireland, there is a legend behind the Giant's Causeway. Here it is according to the Causeway Coast and Glens website:
"The legend tells us that the Irish Giant Finn McCool had a rival - a Scottish giant named Benandonner. Finn McCool decided to build a causeway to Scotland so that he could challenge his adversary in battle. When the work was completed, the causeway stretched from North Antrim to Staffa.
Bennandonner accepted the invitation to walk over to Ireland and fight for supremacy. As Benandonner appeared over the horizon, Finn McCool realised in horror that he had taken on a rival much bigger than himself. He ran home to his wife, Oonagh. What to do?
The quick thinking Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and made him curl up in an enormous cradle. Benandonner - faced with the sight of this huge ‘child’ took fright at the thought of the size of his father and fled back to Scotland tearing up the causeway in his wake."
The Giant's Causeway is owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.
I sat on the top of this little hill, on a comfortable stone seat, and filmed this:
I hope you enjoyed seeing and hearing the crashing sea of the Giant's Causeway in my video!
As if this day of touring the Causeway Coastal Route was not magical enough, look at how it ended -- I saw a rainbow in the sky! I can only hope it means I will return again one day to tour again one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Linking up with Mary's "Mosaic Monday" event on her blog the Little Red House. Thanks, Mary!
Also linking tio Susan's Outdoor Wednesdat event on her blog A Southern Daydreamer. Thanks, Susan!