Culture and Entertainment
A Day in the Life of . . . a Holidaymaker in Northern Ireland
(While in Vietnam last June, I was invited to Maghera in Northern Ireland, by a young man called Aubrey I met there. So here I am, in Maghera, on Tuesday 24th September 2002.)
My friend had planned a day trip for me, on what turned out to be a glorious morning. After an early breakfast, we set off.
Our first port of call was Dunluce Castle, built by Randal McDonnell in the mid seventeenth century. One could only imagine the grandeur of this place in bygone days, set high on the rocks, with commanding views over the Irish Sea. Unfortunately the kitchen was never strengthened and the resulting slide into the sea killed many of it's servants. The English 'Lady of the Castle' vowed never to live there again and consequently another house was built, further inland.
Our next visit was to the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. Bushmills. Licensed by James I of England in 1608, Bushmills will celebrate it's four hundred year old birthday in 2008. We toured around the distillery and discovered that Irish whiskey is distilled three times, while Scottish Whisky is only distilled twice. They are also spelled differently. Can you spot it? Towards the end of the tour a Canadian tourist and myself were volunteered to taste whiskey. To the amusement of the others present, we tasted 12 small glasses of a variety of whiskey and coincidently chose the same ones. There were distinct differences between the Scotch and the Irish, mainly due to the differing techniques used at the earlier stages of the distillation process. The Canadian and I were presented with a certificate to say we were qualified whiskey tasters! Aubrey and I purchased two bottles of whiskey. Aubrey's was 21 years old and cost £100, while my 12 years old cost £30.
Next, we continued on from Bushmills to a restaurant called the 'Smugglers Inn', where we feasted on Steak & Guinness pie. It was the best pie I have ever tasted! After lunch we continued on, towards a small inlet on the coast called Ballintoy, soaking up the sun. Can you believe that in late September? At the harbour in Ballintoy we enjoyed coffee and scones.
The last port of call was the world heritage site of the Giant's Causeway. Now that was nature at it's best! The formations of the stones were something I have never seen before. They were like broken pillars stacked up on each other. Again, Aubrey and I soaked up the sunshine in this lovely part of Ireland.
Later that evening we returned to Maghera.Earlier in the morning I had felt a pain in my arm, but it wasn't until later that I felt poorly. Annie (Aubrey's mum) and I decided that I should be checked out in the local hospital, where it turned out that I was to be a patient for the night. A disappointing end to a perfect day.
Friendships are formed all over the world. Aubrey's dad, Alan and mum, Annie, together with his brother Lee made me so welcome. I shall always remember my trip to Northern Ireland.