Ireland '99: Day Ten

Previous Day

Ireland '99 Main Page

Next Day

Dunluce Castle
Giant's Causeway
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Day Ten -- September 5th, 1999

Well, I awoke with no memory of Sabrina or any other dreams for that matter. But I did have the non-stop squeaking of our bed permanently etched into my ears. The bed was the most squeaky bed Jenn and I have ever slept in, and our restlessness of the night was ample proof of it.

Looking out our narrow windows, we awoke to see things from our castle’s perch that were not apparent under last night’s dark and murky mood. In front of the castle was a field with horses with a river winding through, while another side gave birth to a beautiful lough. The place was still quite spectacular – not for its comfort, but simply for its ambiance.

The castle by day; we had the upper windows

We spent the day driving through yet more of Ireland’s country roads. It seemed straight out of the movies to see so many old Irish gentlemen strolling down narrow country lanes in their Sunday’s best, doubtless on their way to church. Had I been thinking, I would have taking a snapshot of one of these chaps. Driving through the country side in the late morning, it was also interesting to see how crowded the church parking lots were, including one church that seemed to be having a massive party in the cemetery.

Still at another spot in the country side, I stopped to taking a shot of the beautiful scenery, just as an Irish fellow stopped with his shotgun and dog, eyeing for a different “shot” to take.

Pray for your dear life! Jenn's driving!

We hit one of the more major highways on our way north, and I decided to let Jenn drive for the first time. Other than stalling the car several times, she did quite admirably.

Somewhere on a back country road, we crossed into Northern Ireland, passing nothing to say that we did. The only clue was that all of the road numbers suddenly changed from N and R prefixes to A and B prefixes. We pulled out our passports with the hopes of getting new stamps, but got nothing.

We saw very little to suggest the danger of Northern Ireland. We did pass by several compounds that seemed unusually heavily fortified with high fences and rings of barbed wire. We almost took a picture of one site, but luckily not, as the tour book said that snapping photographs of military houses was one sure way to get promptly pull aside for a friendly little chat.

By mid afternoon, we finally met the northern coast for the first time. The sight of it renewed our awe for Ireland and our disbelief that we are actually here. It was quite strange to be looking north to see the ocean – indeed, it was the first time I have ever been in a spot the looks north into the ocean.

Our first Irish sea cliffs

The northern coast looked distinctly Irish, with white chalk faces and strongly pronounced cliffs. On one of the small beaches in between some bluffs, we saw a horseback rider making his way over the sand.


Knowing that we were going to backtrack, we grabbed a quick B&B and then headed off towards the Giant’s Causeway. En route, we first saw the remains of Dunluce Castle, precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff. Evidently, the perch was so precarious that during a particularly strong storm, the entire kitchen that fell off into the ocean, complete with the kitchen staff and that night’s dinner. I had to jump a fence to get the shot I wanted and was stung in the elbow by a most vicious nettle (I continued to feel it throughout the entire day). 

Dunluce at the precipice
Dunluce from the other direction
The Giant's Causeway!

We continued on to the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland’s most popular attraction. In essence, it is a large magma flow that cool at just the right rate so that the magma formed very strong hexagonal columns. These columns have since been exposed by the ocean, making a splendid sight of land meeting ocean.

After buying some pictures in the giftshop, we took the two mile hike around and down to the Causeway. The cliff faces continued to fill me with great awe, the sun was peeping out just right to light up a good portion of the green covered cliffs. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared again just as we made it to the Causeway.

Jenn and my shadow about to descend (the trail is the faint lines across the cliff side)
View down to one of the causeway's outcroppings
Another view of the hike down
Stacked up high
The lava meets the ocean

Hopping around on the Causeway was great fun. The hexagonal columns were broken off at varying heights, causing one to be able to nimbly step around, as there always seemed to be a column at just the right height up or down adjacent to the one you were on. The tops of the columns varied from being either concave or convex, which made interesting puddles and further increased the enjoyment of jumping around.

This wave was a lot more intimidating in person

The columns directly along the ocean were quite black and, when combined with the white of the water, made for a beautiful sight. I remember standing down at the tip of the Causeway watching waves come crashing in over the jet black columns. I almost got caught by a massive (I mean massive!)  wave several orders of magnitude bigger than the previous.


Close up of some of the heaxagonal columns
Me and Tig trying to blend in
Tig resting from the hike down
Cascading ocean

From the side, the water draining from the columnar outcropping waterfalled down step by step. The cascade made for another nice view in the contrast of white and black. After spending a good deal of time playing on the causeway, we headed back up the cliffs to our car. By the end of the hike, the calves of my legs were beginning to really hurt (must have been all that dancing from the night before last).

From the Causeway, we moved on towards the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It is a functional rope bridge connecting the mainland to a small island – crossing it is supposedly a rather perilous endeavor. As we drove there, we watched a long line of sunbeams move across the landscape towards us. We finally stopped at an overview and waited for them to overtake us, but they petered out just before reaching our spot.

Catching sun beams
Classic Irish Picture
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge -- it connects the island to the mainland

We then made it to the rope bridge parking lot and walked down to it, but the bridge ended up being closed. After all that, I was left only with my imagination providing the peril, much to my disappointment. As a consolation prize, I walked out to an unprotected, rather terrifying overlook of the rope bridge.


The overlook spot had some packed dirt spots the size of your foot suggesting that it was frequently visited, but upon getting there, I was nearly paralyzed at how dangerous of a spot it was. I leaned into the mountain instinctually, but that made it worse, as I realized that it increased the chances of me slipping which meant certain death. In hindsight, it was pretty stupid. I now understand why all of the pictures of the rope bridge all seem to be from an angle not quite as far out as what I saw.


My sentiments exactly

On the walk back to the car, I witnessed cows roughhousing in one of the neighboring fields. This is of important note simply to myself, as the lethargic breeds of cattle where I grew up would never show such boisterousness! Jenn and I also watched several sets of massive waves hit the beaches far below us.


I was smiling, but honestly, I was terrified

We headed back, stopping first for dinner at “Snappers”, a hip place with an almost American atmosphere where Jenn had salmon fettucini and I had scampi. We both realized how tired we were becoming of fancy meals.

We returned then to the Hillrise B&B. It turns out that our quick spontaneous choice happen to hit the fanciest stay yet (and amazingly the cheapest too). We managed what I think was the best room in the whole house, complete with a balcony overlooking the beach and bay of Portrush. The bathroom had a huge, wide bathtub and had all of the finest small amenities. Even the doors to the balcony were of solid beautiful wood. I fell asleep in the bathtub (soaking my calves) with the sound of the waves landing on the beach emanating through the bathroom’s open skylight.



Proceed to the next day, or return to the Ireland '99 Main Page.

(c) Geoffrey Peters,, 2002. For more information regarding this web page, please contact
Other web sites include:, ...intangible northwest..., Travel Logs, Yearbooks, Where in the World is Tig?, and Intangible Screen Savers