Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 39 ft high.

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant 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. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than he. Fionn's wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow.

We climbed all over it and sat among the rock formations all the while the sea blasted at the edges. Truly a spectacular day!

Friday, February 19, 2016

We had lunch at the Crown Saloon which was a step back in time featuring booths with doors and several floors for dining. I am sure Irish coffee and a Guiness or two was on the menu.

It was fascinating to see all the graffiti and the remnants of the Irish conflict. Union flags fly over parts of the city that show allegiance to the crown. In the end, it’s a lot about the cash that the UK provides these communities.

Our home for two nights. Each of the rooms was named after someone or something. Ours was the McAllister after James McAllister and Sons Old Irish Whiskey. Bushmills had a really nice dining room and so we had dinner here twice. One evening after dinner, we went to the pub and listened to a local sing ballads and other very funny songs. When he saw us walk in, he sang a tune about Obama or is it O'Bama. Truly a fun evening.

Rick and I took a tour of the Bushmills Brewery and found it interesting that most of the whiskey barrels they use come from Kentucky.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Belfast, Where the Titanic was Built

Belfast City Hall is Belfast City Council's civic building. It is located in Donegall Square, in the heart of Belfast city center. it faces north and effectively divides the commercial and business areas of the city center. It first opened its doors on August 1, 1906. The interior is gorgeous and includes a rather grand central staircase as well as a lot of public art, including a major number of stain glass windows. One pictured below is captioned “Not as Catholics or Protestants, not as Nationalists or Unionists but as Belfast workers standing together.”

The Titanic Museum in Belfast is a monument to Belfast's maritime heritage. The museum is built on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. Shaped like the hull of a ship, this is a very contemporary museum. We  walked through both the history and story of the Titanic. It was sad but impressive.

Monday, February 15, 2016

King of the Castle

After a round of golf, climb we did  to the top of this castle. The views of Dundrum Bay were spectacular and I could only imagine what life was like in the thirteenth century when this castle
was built.

Dundrum Castle is situated above the town of Dumdrum (imagine that) in County Down, Northern Ireland. Built by John de Courdy following his invasion of Ulster, it sits high on a hill in order to control access to the Lecale region. Today it is a State Care Historic Monument.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


I felt like a postal worker...Through rain or sleet or windy day... the golf game goes on. That pretty much describes the first golf outing. It's saving grace... the most spectacular views ever.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Slieve Donard and the Royal County Down

In Northern Ireland, on the eastern coast, our lodging was this magnificent hotel called the Slieve Donard. It is adjacent to the Royal County downs golf course, which hosted the 2015 Irish Open. We were not able to play here because the Open was the following week and they were grooming it. We walked a bit of it just to see what it was like. Difficult is my description.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Knowth in Boyne county

We visited this place near New Grange in Boyne County, Ireland called Knowth. It is an ancient burial grounds dating back to 2500-2000 BC. We walked the space and climbed to the top. The views were amazing as was the spirituality of the place. We felt at home because it rained and then was sunny and then it poured. Check out my Portland friends huddled beneath the overhang of the mound seeking shelter from the rain. WHIMPS!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Steller, the storytelling app

Steller is a new and delightful storytelling app available for Ipad and Iphone. Did I tell you it's free. It is mostly used for tiny tales. Check out mine and then the site:

A variety of templates are available. Select the photos that tell your story, write the text and publish it. Easy-peasy!