Fea­tures

Luxe Beat Magazine - - News - By. The place also serves as a venue for con­certs, wed­dings, con­fer­ences and crafts work­shops.

wel­comes vis­i­tors daily from April un­til Septem­ber. It’s a hor­ti­cul­tural spec­ta­cle in an in­com­pa­ra­ble set­ting by the sea with water fea­tures, fruit and veg­etable gar­dens, imag­i­na­tive herba­ceous borders and dis­plays of flow­ers that burst with color. Climb the mount for a view of the cas­tle, the sea and the es­tate be­yond. Then re­lax and en­joy a snack or light lunch fea­tur­ing the es­tate’s own pro­duce in the charm­ing tea room, over­look­ing the kitchen gar­den.

For pic­turesque photo mo­ments, drive the Cause­way Coastal Route on up to Derry, Northern Ire­land’s sec­ond largest city. And if there’s mist, even bet­ter, as it’ll add a bit of Ir­ish magic and mys­tery to the scene. This is most ap­par­ent at the Giant’s Cause­way, a ge­o­log­i­cal won­der that is also a UNESCO World Her­itage Site. It’s an awe-in­duc­ing mar­vel con­tain­ing over 40,000 in­ter­lock­ing basalt col­umns, which were cre­ated as a re­sult of in­tense vol­canic and ge­o­log­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

For vis­i­tors, it pro­vides a glimpse into the Earth’s most an­cient past; an epic sixty mil­lion year-old legacy to the cool­ing and shrink­ing of suc­ces­sive lava flows. This is a place that’s also steeped in myth and legend, with sto­ries of a mighty giant, Finn Mc­cool, who left be­hind an an­cient home full of folk­lore. Lo­cal folks be­lieve that between the hexagons, the myth­i­cal fea­tures carved out in the rocks and the sea, there’s real magic. They say that you may not al­ways see it right away, but stand on the stones, use your imag­i­na­tion and just wait. It won’t be long un­til you feel it.

Upon reach­ing Derry or Lon­don­derry, you’ll be in the old­est in­tact walled city in all of Ire­land. You’ll also be in a town that’s been the sub­ject of a nam­ing dis­pute between Ir­ish na­tion­al­ists and union­ists. Gen­er­ally, although not al­ways, the for­mer fa­vor us­ing Derry, and the lat­ter pre­fer Lon­don­derry. Legally, the city and county are called “Lon­don­derry,” while the lo­cal govern­ment dis­trict con­tain­ing the city is re­ferred to as “Derry.” You’ll learn that there are also other names for this place, such as Cathe­dral City, Walled City, Maiden City, Le­gen­derry and my fa­vorite, Stroke City (Derry/ Lon­don­derry).

Be­gin your ex­plo­ration of the city with a visit to the Tower Mu­seum, which tells the town’s col­or­ful and dra­matic his­tory from past to present. Fol­low it up by join­ing one of Martin Mccrossan’s City Tours to view the his­toric walls from along the ram­part walk­way and at ground level. Mea­sur­ing al­most one mile around, the walls date back to the early 1600s when they were first con­structed to pro­tect the English and Scots set­tlers of the new town

that was es­tab­lished here as part of the Plan­ta­tion of Ul­ster. As you stroll, you’ll learn the names and sig­nif­i­cance of the var­i­ous bas­tions and gates, as well as get a glimpse of famed St. Columb’s Cathe­dral.

Like Belfast, Derry was also the scene of po­lit­i­cal strife for many years, and it, too, has mu­rals de­pict­ing the is­sues and events of the times, in­clud­ing the in­fa­mous Bloody Sun­day. Mu­rals cover the build­ings within the Bog­side (Ir­ish Repub­li­can sec­tion) and through­out the Loy­al­ist-oc­cu­pied ar­eas of town. Of note is the Peace Mu­ral, found on the Bog­side, which rep­re­sents the peace process and ne­go­ti­a­tions that have helped bring an end to the ter­ri­ble vi­o­lence of the past. Walk­ing and taxi tours are avail­able for those in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about this tur­bu­lent his­tory and its ef­fects on the pop­u­lace.

Derry’s Craft Vil­lage is a well-known mecca for vis­i­tors and lo­cals alike, and has of­ten been de­scribed as a hid­den jewel in the city’s crown. This cul­tural oa­sis is an eclectic mix of ar­ti­san craft shops, charm­ing cafes and bal­conied apart­ments. Dick­en­sian in ap­pear­ance, with a thatched cot­tage to boot, it en­cap­su­lates a sense of times gone If you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan or a “thronie,” you’ll be in good com­pany in Northern Ire­land, as there are mul­ti­tudes of vis­i­tors com­ing from all over the world to in­dulge their fas­ci­na­tion with this pop­u­lar show. There are nu­mer­ous sites sprin­kled through­out the area that have been used to film the award-win­ning se­ries. You can fol­low in the foot­steps of the stars and plot a path through the dra­matic scenery, tak­ing you to where some of the piv­otal scenes were shot, in­clud­ing Win­ter­fell, Robb Stark’s Camp, the Haunted For­est and Inch Abbey. Though the sites are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble for those who wish to ex­plore on their own, there are also sev­eral dif­fer­ent tour com­pa­nies which of­fer var­i­ous “Game of Thrones” ex­pe­ri­ences.

No mat­ter what you see or do dur­ing your stay in this fair coun­try, re­mem­ber to take the time to sa­vor each ex­pe­ri­ence one bite at a time. And as they say in Gaelic, “Ithe Sásta,” or “Bon Ap­petit!”

For all things Northern Ire­land, visit: www.tourismni.com

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