Main street in Newcastle Northern Ireland
The main street in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland

Part of the emerald isle… Northern Ireland, also known as Ulster.  Northern Ireland became a self-governing region of the United Kingdom on May 3, 1921.  Before that Northern Ireland was just another part of Ireland.  The capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast, the government grounds are located in Stormount.  In the early years there was much unrest and violence.  Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1993 tensions have subsided on both sides.  The peace has endured.

There are many tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.  In Belfast you can visit the Titanic and SS Nomatic Museum, take a city tour with a guide, go to St George’s market, visit the Ulster Museum, visit the Belfast Botanic Gardens and take an in-depth tour of the famous Belfast City Hall.  There is also a mural tour available by taxi.

You will need at least a day to explore the beautiful Antrim coast.  A visit to the Carrick Rope Bridge is worthwhile, you should also visit Dunluce Castle, the Old Bushmills Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway.  When you are in the area, a visit to Portrush and Portstewart should not be missed.  Another great spot is Ballycastle, a great beach surrounded by steep cliffs.  Since you are in north Antrim, the city of Londonderry is close by.  There are many places to stay in the area.

Heading south from Belfast is County Down.  There are many tourist attractions here along with beautiful sights.  The Mourne Mountains sweep down to the sea at Newcastle.  A visit to Tollymore Forest Park is worth your time, there is a leisure centre in Newcastle called Tropicana, sounds Cuban but it is Irish…. It is like a waterpark.  Don’t forget to visit Tyrella Beach, a place to cool off.  A visit to the St Patrick Centre is worth a stop.  On the way back to Belfast, you should not miss Bangor and Donaghadee.  Another great area is the Ards Peninsula, south of Bangor towards PortaFerry.

Another day should be set aside to visit County Fermanagh, to the west of Belfast.  The largest city in the area is Enniskillen and is worth a stop.  Continuing to the west is the town of Beleek, you can visit the famous Beleek pottery factory, don’t forget to have your credit card handy for store purchases. Beleek is right on the border with the Irish Republic, while you are in the area there is no problem to cross the border into the Republic.  Donegal is waiting to the west and on to the Atlantic Ocean.

Photos from Northern Ireland – Click to View