County Antrim in the Ulster Province of Northern Ireland stretches inland from the Irish Sea all the way to Lough Neagh. Countless battles have waged over it between Celtic people and English invaders that sought to dominate it, and the conflict still simmers. Tradition has it that Saint Patrick was a slave here after Irish pirates captured him in Britain. Later he returned to the Slemish countryside he loved, as the world’s most famous missionary.
Places of Interest in County Antrim
County Antrim’s Dunluce Castle
Perhaps St. Patrick landed on his return beneath the craggy cliffs of the tiny village of Portballintrae in County Antrim, where ancient houses still cling to cliff tops dangerously jutting out over the restless sea. Nearby, Dunluce Castle has stood proudly guard since 1500 when a warlike Scottish family that arrived as mercenaries chose to stamp their character on a wild and lonely place.
The ruins of the surrounding village of Old Portballintrae still jut out like broke crone’s teeth after rediscovery and excavation in 2007. The more modern fishing village of the same name nearby is a good place to find a hotel, unpack, and then set off to explore the cobbled street leading to the castle, and the historic forge dating the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
A swing bridge named the Carrick-a-Rede leads across a narrow strait to an island where fisher folk have been setting their nets for at least 300 years. If you have a stomach for the 20 metre / 65 foot crossing, 30 meters / 100 feet above the ocean, surging views of clear green water and the causeway coast will reward you. Say a prayer of thanks to Saint Patrick for the handrails the authorities added in the 1970’s. Before that, you may have had just a rope to steady you.