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Welcome to Antrim

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Towns in Antrim

County Antrim has something for everyone. Antrim has a varied range of holiday options and embraces bustling shopping towns with speciality shops for crafts and fashion, but it is its spectacular coastline and dramatic glens that Antrim is famed for.

At the beginning of your tour of the Antrim coastline, one can't help but notice northern Ireland's mast evocative ruin. Situated near Portrush (north Antrim) and perched on the edge of the cliff with the backdrop of the Atlantic coast is Dunluce Castle, a truly magnificent sight and a great start to what promises to be an unfolding event of some of Northern Ireland's Gems.

Northern Ireland's premier tourist attraction, The Giants Causeway spans the Antrim coast for some 3 km. Comprised of 40,000 basalt blocks with interlocking six and seven sided basalt columns ranging from four inches to six ft. long, many have marvelled at how this mythical place came to be. Geologists say these columns were formed by cooling lava some two million years ago. Legend has it that the giant Finn McCool the Ulster warrior and commander of the king of Ireland's armies built giant sized stepping stones to bring his love (a lady giant) from the island of Staff off the Scottish coast across the sea to Ulster.

3 kilometers from this fascinating causeway coast brings you to Bushmills, home to Irelands oldest working distillery and the oldest licensed distillery in the world where historical records refer to a distillery here as early as 1276. Bushmills Distillery offers a guided tour to visitors, after which a complimentary shot of its famous produce is on offer.

Steeped in irish mythology are the nine Glens (forests) of Antrim which stretch from Ballycastle in the north to Larne in the south. An unspoiled region of natures beauty thought to be inhabited by 'the wee folk'. The fairies inhabiting these places are said to be vengeful on anyone rash enough to cut down these fairy forts. Working from north to south these Glens are named Glentaisie (named after Taisie, a princess of Rathlin Island), Glenshesk, Glendun, Glencorp, Glenaan, Glenballyeamon, Glenarriff, Glencloy and Glenarm. Any of the beautiful waterside villages spanning the Antrim coast, such as Portrush, Ballycastle, Cushendun and Cushendall make an ideal base for touring the Glens and the spectacular coastline.

8 kilometers west of Ballycastle off the Antrim coast is Carrick-a-rede Island, where you will find a swinging rope bridge which spans a 60ft gap between the island and the mainland. Swaying 80 feet above the waves, this creaky bridge is open to the daring public April to September every year. Set up by salmon fishermen for the past 350 years between April and September, carrick-a-rede rope bridge is taken down again after the salmon season ends.

Before we move southwards down the Antrim coastline we must give mention to Rathlin Island situated 9.1/4 km north of Ballycastle and only 22 km from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. The Island has a population of 100. These islanders are very much dependant on the sea for their livelihood. With one guesthouse and one pub, the main attraction of the island is the government owned bird sanctuary, housing peregrine, falcons, curlews, buzzards, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills.

Moving southwards along the coast past Larne, to your right is Slemish mountain range, where it is said St. Patrick as a slave tended sheep. To the left is the North Channel formely known as The Sea of Moyle on which the Children of Lir were banished for some 300 year.

Enroute to BELFAST, Northern Ireland's capital, we reach Carrickfergus, which once had an importance much greater than that of Belfast. The magnificent Carrickfergus castle built in 1180, with its four defensive D-shaped towers was the first of its kind in Ireland. This ancient monument houses a good museum of various antiques inside for the more curious tourist.

Neighbouring Counties
Armagh | Down | Derry
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