Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Exploring Northern Ireland in 2 days, Part 2, The Giant's Causeway, A Train Ride and The Rope Bridge of Carrick-a-Rede

The Giant's Causeway is the 4th most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.  It was created when hot lava or Basalt cooled too quickly and formed  unusual rock formations. On the way down to the site, which is about a 20 minute walk from the tourist center, I took some pictures of the coastline.

50 or 60 million years ago, the Antrim area of Ireland was subject to intense volcanic activity. During this period a lava plateau was formed by the eruptions.

As the lava cooled it contracted and  the flow was constricted thus creating the unusal rock formations. And they really are most unusal.

Some of them are hexagons, octagons, and they look as though they were hand cut to fit together.

Some look like giant prisms.

And others like stepping stones.

What facinated me was how they shot straight up and factured vertically instead of horizontally.

Some of these columns shoot 36 feet into the air.

The Irish are known for their blarney. Just some.  One version of the legend that goes along with the Giant's Causeway is that it  was created by a giant whose name was Fionn Mac Cumhaill, ( Finn McCool). Fionn spent many days trying to create a bridge to Scotland so he could face another giant named Bennandonner. Exhausted from his labors, Fionn lay down and fell asleep.  Bennandonner grew weary of waiting for his apponent and crossed the bridge to meet him.  Fionn's wife, Oonagh saw how much larger Bennandonner was than Fionn and grew concerned for her husband. She covered Fionn with a blanket and told Bennandonner that he was her baby. Seeing how big the child was, Bennandonner grew concerned about just how big Fionn could be. He ran across the bridge destroying it and throwing the stones into the ocean so that Fionn could never get to him. 

There are similar stones to the Causeway found at Fingals Cave on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland.

After leaving the Causeway we walked back up the hill, about a 2 mile walk and then down to the bottom on the other side to a small miniature train station.  Having driven all over Scotland and having done a fair amount of driving in Ireland already, we decided to take a ride on the small train.  I borrowed Mitsi's picture of the engine because her's turned out much better than mine.

I hope the engineers of these small trains were paid well, because they came off of them pitch black from the smoke. They were steam engines and the oily smoke that billowed out of them stained their skin. It did give you an idea of what it would be like to travel on a train in the 1800's.  I've often read in westerns and in some books about India how the smoke would come in the windows and stain the peoples clothing. But in the heat, I suppose you'd do anything for a breeze. 

I did manage to get some wonderful pictures of the Irish scenery even though we couldn't lower the windows of the train.

We left the train and went on to  the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Carrick-a-Rede means "a rock in the road". For 350 years there have been rope bridges built to span the space between the mainland and this small island. The first were built by fishermen so they could salmon fish from the island. From earliest time until the mid 1960's almost 300 fish a day were caught. Then it trickled to 300 a season. Now the salmon are gone and fishermen don't bother any longer.  


Walking down to the bridge we were able to take some wonderful shots of the Irish coastline.

I suffer from Vertigo. Very -very-bad vertigo. James Stewart had nothing over on me in the movie Vertigo.  I knew I couldn't walk across the bridge so I took pictures of Mitsi while she did it. So, she has proof she walked across.

The current bridge was created in 2008 and is made from wire and rope so it is very safe.

For those of you who are like me and suffer with vertigo,  you can take a vertual tour of what it's like to stand on the bridge and look around at this site.

While I waited for Mitsi to come back a little bird kept me company.  


Tomorrow we'll go to the harbor at Armoy, Belfast Castle, and the Cat Gardens and take a peak at the Zoo.

Write on,
Teresa R.


Anita Clenney said...

this was great! Those rocks were incredible. I've really enjoyed your trip :)

Amy Durham said...

Beautiful as always, So enjoying "seeing" your trip!


Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Wonderful photos, Teresa. Everything looks so clean and well cared for. Thank you!!!!!

Interesting about the black skin from the steam coming out of the trains.

Teresa Reasor said...

Thank you for continuing to follow the blog. I have one more day of our trip to blog and we'll be home.

One of hostesses told us that there was a concern about the weight problems of the populas in Scotland and Ireland.

I only saw 1 overweight person the whole time we were there. How can they be overweight when they walk EVERYWHERE they go. Or they ride bicycles.


Annabelle Ambrosio said...

Enjoyed the pictures. My ancestors on my father's side landed in northern Ireland from the Highlands of Scotland so this has been especially interesting to me.

Teresa Reasor said...

I'm so glad you've found the blog interesting.
Thank you for continuing to follow it.
Teresa R.