Category Archives: Northern Ireland

Traditional English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast
~ Anglo-Saxon rooted European Countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, and England. ~

I was first introduced to the Full English Breakfast while travelling in Europe in 2005. It is also called a “Full Breakfast” in other parts of Europe. It is a common breakfast found in English-based cultured European countries like England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man respectively. It typically includes bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, tomatoes, and coffee and/or tea. It has regional variants but is also called a “fry up”, “Full English”, “Full Irish”, “Full Scottish”, “Full Welsh”, “Full Cornish”, “Ulster Fry”, etc. depending on where in Anglo Europe you are dining. It is really popular and common in all of Ireland and the United Kingdom being found in pubs, restaurants, cafes, and other establishments usually offered at any time of the day as an “all day breakfast”. It became a National Dish dating back to the 13th century very commonly originating from the country houses of the gentry who in old Anglo-Saxon tradition of hospitality would provide such to their guests, friends, neighbors, and relatives. It especially became popular in the U.K. and Ireland during the Victorian Era and is a suggested breakfast as found in Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management published in 1861.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

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St. Columb’s Rill, Northern Ireland

St. Columb’s Rill, Northern Ireland

The source of the magic for the infamous Bushmill’s Irish Malt Whiskey, these volcanic blessed waters is the life stream of the elixirs produced at the Bushmill’s Distillery for over 400 years (1608). Saint Columb’s Rill is a tributary of the “an Bhuais” (River Bush) of Northern Ireland. The Rill is actually a rivulet, or really small stream, that rises in bog land five miles southeast of the Bushmill’s Village in County Antrim. It is named after the Patron Saint “Columba” of Derry/Doire. It is one of the inspired waters creating the art of Irish Whiskey known as “Uisce Beatha” Gaelic for “Water of Life”. It is the distinct mineral composition of these waters that gives Bushmill’s its distinct flavor, combined with the arts the distillery uses to distill them, triple distilled in copper stills, and matured to spirits in oak casks.

Saint Columba was a distinguished student of Saint Finnian in 546 C.E. (Common Era) when the monastic settlement of Derry was formed and established by him. Saint Columba was fascinated by magical and healing waters, and the Rill was no different legend states. Being concerned with the health of his community, he identified and recommended various springs and water sources for people to drink from. He was one of the twelve Apostles of Ireland who sailed across the Irish Sea in 563 C.E. beginning missionary work in the lands that became Scotland. They sailed to Iona, a small island where they created the “Cradle of Christianity” in Scotland.

Geology – The water that feeds Saint Columb’s Rill, comes up from limestone and sedimentary rock before passing through basalt and igneous rock gaining small quantities of calcium and magnesium which makes the water alkaline and slightly hard. This process feeds off the elements of the remains of former volcanic activity of the area that is much attached to the fabled Slemish Mountain 30 miles to the south which was the dormant plug of the volcano that created these stones. This mountain is riddled with faerie lore as well as Christian roots with being the home of Saint Patrick when he was taken to Ireland as a slave being the place he tended sheep and pigs in 405 C.E.

As The Rill moves northeast, it flows across acidic Sphagnum peat lands before making its way to the village of Bushmills. This colors the water brown and gives it its’ distinctive peat flavor. It is cherished so much by the region that it is protected and monitored by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency guaranteed not to be ever tainted or polluted. They had one incident in 2012 that was stopped once discovered that had to do with peat harvesting for fuel. The Bushmill’s Distillery lies in the direct path of Saint Columb’s Rill and captures some of the fast moving waters into their private reservoir holding in excess of 2.2 million gallons at any given time. The rest of the Rill runs underneath the distillery and discharges into the River bush, finding its way into the Atlantic at Portballintrae where the Giant’s Causeway lies.

In earlier years, there were four other distilleries licensed to operate near Bushmill’s utilizing the Rill. These have purportedly been closed since. The Bushmill’s Inn opened the Saint Columb’s Rill Relaxation Room that provides guests with a range of homeopathic procedures and treatments using the Saint Columb’s Rill waters for spiritual and physical healing.

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Ossian’s Grave (Cloghbrack/Cushendall, Northern Ireland)

Ossian’s Grave
* Cloghbrack * Cushendall * Northern Ireland *

The fabled site of where the wandering poet, bard, and seer “Oisin” is believed to be buried. Atop a hill overlooking the valley and down into the Glen as well as over the Channel to be able to see Scotland on a clear day, the location for this small megalithic tomb is spectacular. The Tomb faces East, South-east next to an oval cairn dedicated to poet John Hewitt. Oisin’s Grave / Ossian’s tomb is a small megalithic semi-circular court opening into a two-chambered burial gallery. The back chamber is composed of two sidestones at the southwest, a back or sidestone at the northeast, with a pair of transverse jambs higher than the other stones as if they may have been originally designed as portals. The Forechamber is in very poor shape with only 2 sidestones intact with a pair of portal stones. Within the chamber lies a fallen stone that may have been the displaced roof-stone. The large court dominates the tomb, but additional stones suggest that the court may have belonged to two periods, relating to a back chamber and subsequent fore-portals.

A great irish poet, John Hewitt was very impressed with Ossian’s grave and the megalithic tomb that exists on this hill. So much that he wrote a poem about the site called “Oisin’s Grave: the horned cairn at Lubitavish, Co. Antrim”. Because of this, a stone cairn in Hewitt’s memory was constructed here in 1989 commemorating him as the “Poet of the Glens”.

    We stood and pondered on the stones
    whose plan displays their pattern still;
    the small blunt arc, and, sill by sill,
    the pockets stripped of shards and bones.
    The legend has it, Ossian lies

    beneath this landmark on the hill,
    asleep till Fionn and Oscar rise
    to summon his old bardic skill
    in hosting their last enterprise.

    This, stricter scholarship denies,
    declares this megalithic form
    millennia older than his time –
    if such lived ever, out of rime –
    was shaped beneath Sardinian skies,
    was coasted round the capes of Spain,
    brought here through black Biscayan storm,
    to keep men’s hearts in mind of home
    and its tall Sun God, wise and warm,
    across the walls of toppling foam,
    against this twilight and the rain.

    I cannot tell; would ask no proof;
    let either story stand for true,
    as heart or head shall rule. Enough
    that, our long meditation done,
    as we paced down the broken lane
    by the dark hillside’s holly trees,
    a great white horse with lifted knees
    came stepping past us, and we knew
    his rider was no tinker’s son.

Official information: http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/nismrview.htm?monid=1476

Related Documents…

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More Information about these Documents…Opens in new window
CLOGHBRACK, OSSIAN’S GRAVE

 

SMR Number ANT 019:006                                   Additional Information…
Edited Type COURT TOMB: OSSIAN’S GRAVE OR CLOGHBRACK
Townland
LUBITAVISH
Council MOYLE
County ANT
Grid Ref D2129028460
Protection State Care and Scheduled
Parish LAYD
Barony GLENARM LOWER
Town
General Type MEGALITHIC TOMB
Condition SUBSTANTIAL REMAINS
General Periods  [description of Periods]Opens in new window
NEOLITHIC
PREHISTORIC
Specific Type Specific Period
COURT TOMB NEOLITHIC
Bibliography
BORLASE,W. 1897, I, 262-3
EVANS,E.E. & GAFFIKIN,M. B.N.F.C. SURVEY OF ANTIQUITIES:
GRAY,W. JRSAI 16, 1883-4, 360
GRAY,W. P.B.N.F.C., 1883-4, APP.236 NO.6
HISTORY OF IRELAND (?)
MEGALITHS AND RATHS. I.N.J. 1935, V, 247
O.S. FIELD REPORT NIO.132
O’LAVERTY,J. 1887, VOL.IV, 542
PSAMNI 1940, 9
UJA 13, 1907, 84, PLAN & PHOTO

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John Hewitt’s Memorial Marker (Cushendall, N. Ireland)

John Hewitt’s Memorial Cairn
* Ossian’s Grave, Cushendall, Northern Ireland *

A popular Northern Ireland poet, John Harold Hewitt blessed the earth with his works from 1907 until June 22, 1987. He was born in Belfast, and was labelled one of the more significant poets of his time along with Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, and Derek Mahon. He was appointed in 1976 as the first writer in residence at the Queen’s University in Belfast. Some of his more popular works besides Ossian’s Grave was The Day of the Corncrake and Out of My Time: Poems 1969 to 1974. He als held positions in the Belfast Museum and Art gallery, a Freeman of the City of belfast, and honored with doctorates from the University of Ulster and Queen’s University. He had a very active political life as a “man of the left” who was very involved with the British Labour Party, the Fabian Society, and the Belfast Peace League. He described himself as Irish, British, Ulster, and European. On Mayday of 1985 he opened the Belfast Unemployed Resources Center.

A great irish poet, John Hewitt was very impressed with Ossian’s grave and the megalithic tomb that exists on this hill. So much that he wrote a poem about the site called “Oisin’s Grave: the horned cairn at Lubitavish, Co. Antrim”. Because of this, a stone cairn in Hewitt’s memory was constructed here in 1989 commemorating him as the “Poet of the Glens”.

    We stood and pondered on the stones
    whose plan displays their pattern still;
    the small blunt arc, and, sill by sill,
    the pockets stripped of shards and bones.

    The legend has it, Ossian lies

    beneath this landmark on the hill,

    asleep till Fionn and Oscar rise
    to summon his old bardic skill
    in hosting their last enterprise.

    This, stricter scholarship denies,

    declares this megalithic form
    millennia older than his time –
    if such lived ever, out of rime –
    was shaped beneath Sardinian skies,
    was coasted round the capes of Spain,
    brought here through black Biscayan storm,

    to keep men’s hearts in mind of home
    and its tall Sun God, wise and warm,
    across the walls of toppling foam,
    against this twilight and the rain.

    I cannot tell; would ask no proof;

    let either story stand for true,
    as heart or head shall rule. Enough
    that, our long meditation done,
    as we paced down the broken lane
    by the dark hillside’s holly trees,
    a great white horse with lifted knees
    came stepping past us, and we knew
    his rider was no tinker’s son.

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Cushendall, Northern Ireland

Cushendall, Northern Ireland
by Thomas Baurley

A little village that has drawn me into its crossroads many many times in the searching for Ossian’s grave which lies just on its outskirts. Another attracting piece of folklore discovered during those journeys is the Fairy Hill overlooking the village called Tiveragh Hill. With a population of just over 1,200 inhabitants, the Village’s name comes from the Irish “Cois Abhann Dalla” meaning the “foot of the River Dall” or “bottom of the River Dall” as it is located in the heart of the valley where the Dall runs. Formerly it was called “Newtown Glens”. It is a popular tourist spot for coastal road travellers exploring County Antrim as its along the A2 coast road between Cushendun and Glenariff, areas most known for their natural beauty, folklore, and seaside panoramas. It is also from this coast that on a clear day, one can see Scotland, as it is only separated from Scotland by the North Channel and only 16 miles of distance inbetween. In a 2001 Census it was determined that 98% of the population of Cushendall was Catholic. The town is also very popular for sports, especially camogie and hurling. Besides the two spots of folklore listed above, the area is popular for The Curfew Tower, the ruins of Layde Church, Red Bay Castle, and Glenariff Forest Park. The area is also known for shopping, a annual vintage car rally, and some local festivals.

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Cushendall, Northern Ireland, a set on Flickr.

Following the mythology and folklore of Northern Ireland around Cushendall looking for Oisin’s grave and stumbling upon a majestic fairy hill and tree in the process. More stories at www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/

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Tiveragh Fairy Hill (Cushendall)

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The Tiveragh Fairy Hill
Cushendall, Northern Ireland

Legend and lore has it that this very broad sided hill with steep sides overlooking the small village of Cushendall in Northern Ireland is the gateway to Tir na nOg. A place very well known locally to be haunted by faeries, leprechauns, elves, and pixies … this giant hill is a natural fortress all in its own and easily seen to be claimed as a stronghold by the fae. Fairy tales mention many stories about it rising up on pillars during the twilight evening with glimmering meriment of faeries frolicking and dining. Many believe that the wee folk live in this hill that is accessed by a nearby cave. As the warning goes, if ye are mortal, regardless of how appeasing the faerie music may sound, if you wander within, you’ll never be seen again on this plane of existence. Time holds a whole different rhythm in Faerieworlds.

We however, of fae persuasion, did venture up the hill at the turn of twilight just as the sun was going down. We spied the hill with visions of faerie impressions while across the valley atop Ossian’s Grave – the Megalithic tomb believed to be the burial spot of the fabled poet and bard Oisin. Now Oisin was lured into fae, into Tir na nOg where he lived until he requested to return to the land of mortals to visit his family. Of course due to faerie time, he came back several hundred years later to find them all gone and deceased. He fell off his faerie steed and became a blind old man wandering these fields eventually dying. If the faerie tale is true, this would be the hill he would have rode out of and across the valley would have been his grave overlooking it … curiouser and curiouser. Midway along the way up the base of the hill is one of the most magnificent Faerie Thorn Trees I’ve ever encountered. As usual with these faerie hills, I always find a wee hole just big enough for the Victorian sized fae to enter within, usually lined with heavy rocks, making it look peculiarly like its a miniature mine rather than a animal hole. We climbed atop as the sun was going down, empowered by the feelings of the ancient ones. Archaeologically though, this may be a massive hillfort. I’m looking for those records and will post my findings here.

    On Tiv-ra Hill near Cushendall,
    I heard a commotion behind a wall,
    I stopped and looked over, and boys-o-boys!

    Now what do you think was making the noise?
    Twas a Hurley match – and may I choke -–
    It was two wee teams of the Fairy folk
    That was rippling’ and tearing’ and weltin’ away
    In the light of the moon was bright as day.

    And their playing pitch was hardly as big
    As my Uncle Barney’s potato rig;
    And me there watchin’ them puck and clout –
    At the back o’ the wall with my eyes stuck out.

    When all at once, like the squeal of a hare,
    A wee voice shouted, “Who’s that up there?””
    And a bit off a thing about nine – inch tall
    Came climbing up to the top of the wall.

    And he stood there; he stood about pot -size
    With his two wee fingers up at my eyes,
    And its God’s own truth that I’m speakin’ mind ye,
    “”Get out o’ that,” says he, “or I’ll blind ye!””

    Aye that’s what he said, “I’ll blind ye,” says he,
    And by Jing what he said was enough for me,
    Did I run? Aye surely; I didn’t miss -–
    And I haven’t seen Tiveragh from that to this.

    ~ H.Browne

    The Fairy Hill Tiveragh is a fairy hill and near to Cushendall,
    And nobody goes there at night, no nobody at all.
    The hill is small, the sides are steep.
    And I have heard it said That flickering lights go in and out While everyone’s in bed.
    And on the top two hawthorns grow, A white one and a red.
    ~ John Irvine Desmond

~ Yours truly, Leaf McGowan

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Mussenden Temple

Mussenden Temple (Bishops Gate)
Castlerock, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

A scenic view from the beachside near Castlerock shows a contrasting look of a small temple high atop (120 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean and its rocky cliffs. Mussenden Temple, a circular building designed as a temple, was built in 1785 as part of Frederick Augustus Hervey’s estate (The 4th Earl of Bristol, Bishop of Derry). It was built as a summer library and modelled after the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy in memory of Hervey’s cousin Frideswide Mussenden. Natural erosion of the cliff face draws ever so close to the temple each year but is being stabilized by the National Trust since 1997 to prevent the loss of the building. The building’s inscription reads Lucretius’ statement: “is pleasant, safely to behold from shore / the rolling ship, and hear the tempes roar.” The property is part of the National Trust and open year round, dawn to dusk and is a popular location for wedding ceremonies.

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Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle
* A2 Coast Road Portrush * BT57 8SX * County Antrim, Northern Ireland * Tel: 44-28-7082-3333 *

Dunluce a.k.a. Dun Lios, means “Strong Fort” in Irish. One of Ireland’s infamous settings for fantasy tales, movies, or depictions – Dunluce ruins contrast with awe-inspiring grandeur with the precipitous basaltic rock it stands upon over the Northern Sea. It is separated from the mainland by a deep chasm that is crossed by means of a narrow bridge and beneath the castle is a long cave that served great strategic importance as an escape to the Sea. It is believed that the nomadic boatmen who first inhabited this area in 7,000 B.C.E. must have seen this crag from which the castle now sits and may have ventured into the cavern beneath it back in the day. It is believed that early Christians and Vikings were attracted to this Crag and had an earlier Irish fort placed here before Dunluce was constructed. With the Normans arrival, it is believed, that this Crag was first crowned with a castle. There are legends of inhabitation of this area by giants, ghosts, and banshees as well. Believed to have been used as a fort during Early Christianity in the area by evidence of the souterrain that survives beneath the current ruins. The Castle is mentioned as part of the de Burgo manor of Dunseverick in the early 14th century. Richard de Burgh, the Earl of Ulster, was the first to build this castle on the Crag. It was a common place to fall under siege as many desired it. First in the hands of the MacQuillin family in 1513 when the two large drum towers were believed to have been built. The Castle then became the home of the Clan MacDonnell of Antrim and the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg from Scotland. Most of the ruin remains that are left standing were built by Sorley Boy McDonnell (1505-1589) and his family, the 1st and 2nd Earls of Antrim – who seized the castle in 1558 after the death of his brother Colla who married the daughter of the McQuillan chief in 1544 even though he had been evicted from the Manor twice before (1565 and 1584). He took back the castle by force with artillery in 1584 and hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket. He was officially appointed Constable of Dunluce by the Queen in 1586. Damages done by the 1584 siege. In 1588 when the Spanish Armada treasure ship – The Girona – wrecked off the Giant’s Causeway in a storm – the treasures were salvaged by Sorley Boy who utilized the prizes to rebuild and repair the castle. Repairs were so extensive they lasted past Sorley Boy’s death in 1589 with additions such as the turreted gatehouse in Scottish manner, cannon ports in the curtain wall where eventually the Girona’s cannons were placed (from the Spanish Armada ship 1588). Somewhere around the 1560’s the north-facing Italianate loggia behind the south curtain was added. In 1613 Mac Donnell’s granddaughter Rose was born in the Castle. In 1639 a terrible tragedy befell the castle when the lower yard, the kitchen, and most of the staff saw a collapse into the sea. The Castle owner’s wife apparently after that point refused to live in the Castle any longer. The mainland court was believed to be built by Lady Catherine to replace the lower yard after parts of it fell into the sea. After Royalist second Earl was arrested at Dunluce in 1642, the family ceased to reside at Dunluce Castle, after which it fell into decay until 1928 when it was transferred to the State for preservation. Dunluce Castle served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until the impoverishment of the MacDonnells in 1690 following the Battle of the Boyne. In 1973 the castle appeared on the inner gate fold of the Led Zeppelin album “Houses of the Holy”. It was referenced in the comedy “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” when they travel back into time to meet Socrates. In 2001, the castle appeared in Jackie Chan’s “The Medallion” as the villain’s lair. It is now in care of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and a Monument in State Care.
The Cave beneath has been called the “Mermaid’s Cave” above it is the “wishing well” (down and up the path). Castle is open year round from at least 10 am until 5 pm with later hours in the summer.

The castle is believed to be haunted by many spirits. Some say former servants roam the halls (those who died during a severe winter storm in 1639 when part of the castle fell into the sea), others say that one of the MacQuillan’s daughters can be seen on occasion (she tried to elope to Peter Carey, complete with black coat and purple scarf, when he was hung by Sorley Boy MacDonnell (the local chieftain)), while others report seeing an apparition of an English constable. Inland, below the castle, is the Royal Protrush Golf Club’s main course (known to have hosted the only British Open golf championship (outside of Britain and Scotland)) called “Dunluce links” is said to be frequented by fairway fanatics involving the battles between the Vikings and local Irish tribes during the 12th century. The sandhills on the East Strand Portrush were called the “War Hollow” because it was the location where ambushes of Norsemen returning with plunder after capturing Dunluce Castle took place, and Magus, the King of Norway, was beheaded there and the treasures supposedly still buried down below. (myths as told by http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com/portals/2/itineraries/ccritinerary-myths.pdf)

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Old Bushmills Distillery


Bushmills Distillery

Bushmills Distillery
* The Distillery * 2 Distillery Rd, Bushmills BT57 8XH, United Kingdom/Northern Ireland * 028 2073 1521 * www.bushmills.com *

Bushmills is the home of the identically named Irish Malt Whiskey that is distilled in the Old Bushmills Distillery. This Distillery is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. Bushmills has been manufacturing since 1608 for over 400 years. They are also notorious for their Single Malt Whiskies called “Bushmills” and “Black Bush”. “Irish Whiskey” is also called the “Uisce Beatha” which means “Water of Life” in Irish Gaelic. Bushmills is known for their warm, distinctive tastes and the arts/craft used by the Distillery to distill them, which has been passed down for generations. The Distillery hosts daily 2 hour tours educating visitors in the process and craft as well as providing tasting opportunities. Bushmills utilizes the magical waters from the Springs of St. Columb’s Rill, processes it, runs it through triple distillation in its copper stills, then matures the spirits in oak casks. Irish Malt Whiskeys are closely related to the Scotch Malt Whisky with the differences of Irish Whiskey is spelt with an “e”, and in Scotland the malted barley acquires a peaty smoky character as it is dried whereas Bushmills is never smoked thereby granting it a honeyed malt flavor. Bushmills is very proud of its ingredients and processes. Bushmills is gluten free (distillation removes glutens from the cereals), is Kosher (status awarded by Chief Rabbinate of Ireland) and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians as they are made from barley, corn, or wheat, and other cereal grains, water, and yeast. They are distilled in oak casks which previously only contained spirit or fortified wine – no animal products used in production. Bushmills is healthy, and a 25 ml serving of the whiskey is only 56 calories and an ABV alcoholic strength of 40% (alcohol by volume). The Distillery reserves typically range from 50 to 60% abv.

It began in 1608 when the distillery became licensed by King James I. By 1784 the Distillery became an officially registered company and word spread of the elixir especially from 1740-1910 with the Irish emigrants to the USA. The 1920’s Prohibition in the United States banning sale and consumption of alcohol harshly hurt Bushmills but they managed to ride through it even though at many levels they were dependent on sales from the USA. The Director at the time, Wilson Boyd, took the advantageous step in predicting the end of Prohibition and had ready to export large stores of whiskey. Isaac Wolfson bought Bushmills after WWII, and the Irish Distillers group took it over in 1972 controlling all Irish whiskey at the time suffering serious neglect as their whiskey stocks decreased in order to increase market shares of Jameson Whiskey which is Irish Distiller’s main brand. The French group Pernod Ricard took over Bushmills in 1988 and then in 2005 it was purchased by Diageo for 200 million pounds.

    Bushmills produces:

  • White Bush – Bushmills White Label, Bushmills Original – Blend of single malt Irish whiskey and Irish grain whiskey that is matured in American oak casks.
  • Black Bush – Premiere blend with more proportion of malt to grain whiskey than the Whie. Selected Spanish Oloroso sherry-seasoned oak casks are used to mature the malt before it is blended with delicate sweet single grain whiskey. Created in 1934.
  • Bushmills 10 year single malt – Matured in American bourbon barrels for 10 years.
  • Bushmills 12 year Single Malt – A special edition sold only at the Bushmills distillery that is matured mostly in sherry casks.
  • Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt – matured for 16 years or more in a combination of American bourbon barrels, Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, and Port pipes.
  • Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt – A limited number of 21 year bottles are made annually and matured in 3 different types of casks – first in American bourbon barrels and then in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks for 19 years, then in Madeira drums for 2 more years before bottling.
  • Bushmills 1608 – Special 400th Anniversary whiskey containing 95% malt and 5% grain whiskey made with 30% crystal malt for smoothness. Now only available at the Distillery and in Duty Free.

Rating of the tour: As a big fan of Bushmills, I was pretty excited to see the distillery. I was a bit discouraged after the tour as I didn’t see anything in operation and thought it was very dry and boring. The tour guide however knew her stuff and did an excellent job with the presentation. Of course the samples of Bushmills were delicious and spirited, but after taking the Jameson distillery tour (even though they weren’t producing) which was 100 times better, I look back at the Bushmills tour and felt ripped off with the admission they charged. Rating: 2 stars out of 5 for the Tour; 5 stars out of 5 for the liquor.

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Glenariff Forest Park

Glenariff Forest Park
Antrim, Northern Ireland

One of Northern Ireland’s enchanted woodlands … Glenariff Forest Park is full of myth and legends, faeries, and woodland creatures. It is home to a unique Waterfall Walkway that was introduced to tourists 80 years ago and significantly upgraded along its 3 mile length that passes through a National Nature Reserve. The park is a photographer’s paradise. It houses a visitor center, exhibition, interactive display, a gift shop, caravan/camping sites, and a seasonal restaurant complimenting the Park called “Gateway to the Glens”. The park is a 2,928 acre forest in County Antrim of Northern Ireland that is managed by the Northern Ireland Forest Service. The forest is also utilized for timber production centered around the clearfelling of coniferous plantation trees.

According to some myths and legends, the legendary warrior/poet Oisin (Ossian/Son of the giant Fin McCool) had once tried to outrun a band of Vikings in this forest. When they closed in on him, he climbed down a steep gully, as just as he was about to plunge to his death, a mysterious grey rope-like column appeared, he grabbed on to it, and climbed up to safety. When he reached the top he found it to be the tail of a white horse grazing in the field above. He thanked the horse and asked for its help. She turned into a mountain mist, falling to the ground as water, thereby washing away the Norsemen who pursued him. This is now the waterfall in the park known as the “Grey Mare’s Tail”. (myth as told from Causeway Coast and Glens Myths Tour).

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Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge:
Ballintoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
One of the attractions along Northern Ireland’s Coastal Causeway that is part of the Giant’s Causeway highlights of the area, is a pedestrian suspension rope bridge that connects the mainland to the tiny Carrick island (rock) off the coast. It can’t be seen from the parking lot, and you pretty much have to pay admission to get down over to even peek a view (unless wandering over by boat), The National Trust charges 4-5 pounds to cross the bridge (or see it). The site is approximately 20 meters wide, and sits 30 meters atop from the rocks below. Bridge is open year round. The term “Carrick-a-rede” means “rock in the road”, and is theorized to have been erected by salmon fishermen in the area for over 350 years.
The island is no longer used by salmon fishermen as the stock has dried up at this point. Good views of what looks like a mermaid cove with underneath large caves, and unique flora, fauna, and geology. The caves were once used by boat builders and for a shelter during storms.

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White Park Bay, Northern Ireland

White Park Bay
* Balintoy, Northern Ireland *
Right off the Coastal Causeway route most infamous for the Giant’s Causeway, is a beautiful white sandy beach nestled between two headlands on the North Antrim coast forming a white arc in a very secluded location. My first visit was obsessed with ideas of coming back to this spot and settling into the youth hostel that overlooks this bay, and finding solitude to write and write. Even on busy days, this beach is quoted to be spacious and quiet. Backed by ancien dunes providing rich habitats for animal and bird life, it is a piece of hidden paradise. It is managed by the National Trust and donated by the Youth Hostel Association of Northern Ireland in 1938. It is one of North Ireland’s most painted and photographed beaches. Can be reached by train service from Belfast or Londonderry to Coleraine. By bus – Ulsterbus #218 from Belfast to Portstewart. By cycle or car via the NCN route 93 that runs past the strand. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Dunseverick Castle

Dunseverick Castle
* Along the Giant’s Causeway / Coastal Causeway Route, Northern Ireland *

Near the Giant’s Causeway, on an isolated rock surrounded by the sea in a small bay, is the crumbling remains of “Dunseverick Castle”. A maritime fortress of Dalriada, built by Sovaric, son of Eberic mythically in the year of the world 3668 a.m. once off the royal road from Tara, and once of the seats of the Kings of Ireland. It was stormed in 870 C.E. and then plundered again by Mave, the QUeen of Connaught at a uncertain date, starting a bloody war between Ulster and Connaught. When the castle was in the hands of Kinel Owen, in the 12th century, another disaster struck. When Turlough of Dunseverick returned from the Crusades, the castle was ransacked and massacred by Norwegian ships sparing only Lady O’Cahan, sister of Turlough. This beautiful young girl with dark hair and blue eyes, won the heart of the Norsemen, sparing her, and wedding him until the Norseman was slain by Turlough. The melee between the Norseman and Turlough caused the castle to catch fire, and the bride to plunge to her death off the cliffs resulting in the castle falling into ruins.

    “And the villagers of olden times oft heard the wailing cry
    Of the Norseman and brave young Turlough when waves were running high,
    And old Dunseveric, gaunt and bare, has no sadder tale of woe
    Recorded in its annals of the years of long ago.”

The castle was later made the family residence of the O’Cahan family who were branched from the Kinel Owens, from about 1000 C.E. until 1320, regained again by the family in the mid 16th century. Was in the family hands until the 1641 rebellion when chief Gilladuff O’Cahan was taken by General Munro and hanged at Carrickfergus years after the rebellion. Munro destroyed all the castles in the area along the coast except Dunluce where he garrisoned English soldiers for the Cromwellian army. By 1662 most of Dunseverick was demolished except a piece of wall at the entrance six feet thick which his men were unable to remove. On the north side of the castle, is a well about three yards from the edge of he cliff, over 100′ above the sea, that legendarily “Never goes dry”. It is named the “Tubber Phadrick” or “St. Patrick’s Well” and was considered one of Ireland’s holiest wells as St. Patrick visited Dunseverick on several of his travels through the North. St. Patrick used to sit on a stone located by the well, named “St. Patrick’s Rock”, but this stone was tumbled into the well by General Munro’s soldiers. Last to own and reside in the castle was Giolla Dubh O Cathain who left it in 1657. Now in ruins, only a small residential tower survived until 1978 until taken by the sea. Now just ruins of the walls remain. The castle is located in County Antrim near the small village of Dunseverick and about a mile and a half from the Giant’s Causeway. Now part of the National Trust (1962) as passed on by local farmer Jack McCurdy.

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Northern Ireland’s Ormo Pancakes off the shelf

Northern Ireland’s ORMO Pancakes
Pancakes on the shelf
* Convenience store in Bushmills, Northern Ireland * http://www.yourormo.com/ *

A unique Northern Ireland treat where you can buy pre-packaged already cooked, just-heat-up instant pancakes from off the shelf. Made by “Ormo pancakes” you can butter straight from the packet, or toast and butter, top with icea cream, fruit, or what-not. The products are baked in South Belfast and spread throughout storefronts in Northern Ireland, whipping up the batter since 1875. Established by Robert Wilson with his brother Samuel, creating a bakery called Wilson and Strain, which evolved into Ormeau Bakery in 1875, and becoming a Northern Ireland favorite for over a century.

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The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway:

near Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Tied into the legendary faerie lore with being created by Finn Mac Cool as a causeway to walk between Ireland and Scotland, the area is rich in myths and legends. A World Heritage site (UNESCO 1986), operated by the National Trust, the Giant’s Causeway consists of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were caused by the result of a ancient volcanic eruption 50-60 million years ago. Intense volcanic activity caused highly fluid molten basalt to intrude through the chalk beds forming an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled quickly, contraction began with some in vertical directions that reduced the flow thickness, and horizontal contraction that was accommodated by cracking through the flow varying by lava speed forming the columns. In the heart of County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, the site is not very far from the infamous village of Bushmills. The site was discovered in 1693. It is considered to be the fourth natural wonder in the United Kingdom. Each of the hexagonal columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot onward into the sea where they surface again into Scotland. Some of the columns reach heights upwards of 36 feet high. Most of the columns are hexagonal, though some have four, five, seven, and eight sides. Areas of solidified lava in the cliffs are up to 28 meters thick in some places. The area is infamous for the columns, stepping stones, myths, legends, the Giant’s Boot, and the Organ, the Giant’s Eyes, the Shepherd’s Steps, the Honeycomb, the Giant’s Harp, the Chimney Stacks, the Giant’s Gate, the Camel’s Hump, as well as a panoramic seaside view and beaches. Rating 5 stars out of 5.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Giant’s blood pool:

 

 

Giant’s Boot:

 

 

 


 




 

 


 


The Organ:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 



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Bushmills’ Hostel (HI) (Northern Ireland)



Hostelling International Bushmills


Hostelling International Bushmills Hostel

* 49 Main Street* Bushmills, County Antrim BT57 Northern Ireland * Tel. 44-28-20731222 * Fax. 44-28-20730493 * bushmills@hini.org.uk * http://www.hihostels.com/dba/hostels-Bushmills-029013.en.htm *

This new hostel was clean, large, and quiet. It has over 80 beds and during our stay, it was empty enough to have a dorm room as our own private room which was a major plus. I’m sure once people catch on to this gem it’ll get quite popular. All ensuite rooms some of which have a mezzanine layout. The hostel has a conference room, lounge, internet kiosks, free wifi for laptop users, a walled garden, self use kitchen, group kitchen, dining hall, and is very spacious and comfortable. We enjoyed our stay so much we went for two nights instead of our usual intended one. The hostel is located just a 5 minutes walk from the Old Bushmill’s Distillery and 2 miles from the Giant’s Causeway. Reception/Checkin desk is limited as the desk is closed between 1100 to 1700 hours, and 2200-0800 hours from April thru June and Sepember thru October; and closed 11-1400 hours in July thru August. The Hostel is open from March through October, 7 days a week; and from November thru February are open on Friday and Saturday only. Closed on Christmas Holiday. Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5.



Bushmill’s Hostel


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The Village of Bushmills (Northern Ireland)

Bushmills, Northern Ireland

Originally known as “Portcaman” as a center for corn, flax, spade, and whiskey production as it was popular in the 1600’s for its water powered industries. “Bushmills” is named afer a large watermill built on the River Bush that was built in the early 17th century C.E. Bushmills is an infamous village in County Antrim of Northern Ireland, well known most for its “Bushmills Whiskey Distillery”(1608), is located only 2 miles from the other infamous landmark “The Giant’s Causeway”; 95 km from Belfast; 10 km from Ballycastle; and 15 km from Coleraine. The 2001 Census recorded a population of 1,319. The Bush river once powered over seven mills along its stretch through the village. The Main street of Bushmills has quite a few shops of living heritage and history reflecting the village pre-Industrial revolution era. The Macnaghten family has shaped and influenced the village to what it is known as today. They built most of the prominent buildings in the area including the Market Square, the Clock Tower, the Courthouse, and Old National School. The village often had regular weekly markets in the square where merchants would come to hawk their wares. It was once home to a popular linen market in 1833 as well as a bi-annual hiring faires. The area became central for tourism with influx of visitors coming to see the Giant’s Causeway. In 1883, the world’s first hydro-elecric tramway ran from Portrush to Bushmills with a later extension to the Giant’s Causeway. The Bush River was famous in Ulster legends and writings being known as one of the 10 rivers of Ireland that was encountered by the first settlers on the North Coast known as “Inbiur Buosse bruchtait srotha” (which translates to the “River Bush of the bursting torrents”). The Bush is also known in legend as ‘the great abundance of nuts which were found on the banks of the Boyne and the Buais (Bush)’. In addition as being the source of the “Waters of Life” for the Bushmill’s Distillery, the river is known for the Salmon that each year travels across the Atlantic Ocean back to the Bush which has become quite a mystery these days. The village is well known for several festivals held there annually, including the “Causeway Hammered Dulcimer Festival” and the “Finn MacCool Festival”.


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Hunter’s Bar (Ballyvoy, Northern Ireland)

Hunter’s Bar
106 Cushendall Road * Ballyvoy * County Antrim * BT54 6RA * Tel: 02820 762343
Our road trip along the Causeway brought us to dine at this large pub/restaurant along the Coastal causeway north of Belfast. The service was friendly, though poorly attended as it seemed much was going on elsewhere in the bar. The foot was mediocre … but your typical pub fare. I got the fish n’ chips, and it was average. Good cider. Staff was friendly. Appeared to be a local’s hangout. Rating: 2 stars out of 5.

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Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast


Coastal Highway – Giants Causeway

Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Just north of Belfast, along Northern Ireland’s scenic and magnificent coastline is what has come to be known as the “Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens”. It is absolutely not to miss during any trip to Ireland. Focused alot around the geological phenomena known as “The Giant’s causeway”, this breathtaking and rugged coastline auto route is a voyage that should no be rushed as one follows the coastline, through small villages, towns, by castles, rocky shores, silent glens, and lush forest parks. An area full of mythology as well.


Northern Ireland Coast

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