Go Èirinn —The Northern Emerald Isle

John Higgins is the Operations Manager for the National Trust Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. He must have also been the pitch man who convinced the producers of the spectacularly successful Game of Thrones series to situate much of the series in Ireland. He is a master Irish storyteller and after listening to him for ten minutes as he waxed poetic about his love for the landscapes and coastal areas of Northern Ireland — I almost bought a ticket on the spot. His colleague, Ciaran Doherty, is the Stakeholder Liason Manager for Northern Ireland at Toursim Ireland and is just as passionate about the Emerald Isle, its historic castles, natural beauty and people.

Giants Causeway

Higgins, Doherty and Dana Welch (the Manager for Tourism Ireland in Canada) recently visited Ottawa to host local travel agents at the Museum of Nature. They shared their insight about some of the best places to visit in  Ireland. The trio are like a walking Wikipedia on the culture, traditions, lore, history, and natural treasures of Ireland. 

Tourism Ireland is encouraging Canadians to visit Northern Ireland and experience firsthand the glorious coastlines, traditional folklore music, food, entertainment and hospitality the region has to offer. 

The Belfast Museum
The Belfast Museum

There is much to do and see when you visit Northern Ireland. The Giants Causeway is a designated  UNESCO World Heritage site, including its beautiful beaches and dunes ( if you are brave enough, you can go from a refreshing swim). If you are a golfer stop at Portrush where there is a scenic world-class golf course. You can spend hours visiting Titanic Belfast, the museum that traces Belfast's maritime history and honours the story of the Titanic. Another popular spot for visitors is the  ruined medieval Dunluce Castle which is perched precipitously on a cliff edge and looks as if it is about to fall into the sea. Nearby is the vertigo-inducing Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, near the beautiful coastal village of Ballintoy. Other recommended stops include The Glens of Antrim, Carrickfergus Castle, the 32-kilometer-long picturesque Ards Peninsula and visiting the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum — a 'living' museum designed to show Ulster life in the 19th century. 

Tourists generally spend a couple of days in Londonderry, or Derry, as it's known locally which remains a key port and industrial centre. The town has an almost completely preserved circuit of medieval walls and numerous historic buildings.

If you are traveling home via Dublin you'll need a few days to visit the exceptional and historic sights of that great city. Be sure to stop and take a tour at The Teeling Whiskey Distillery  https://vimeo.com/294074087/92c136e3a7, which is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years — just a stone’s throw from their ancestral distillery, in the historic distilling district of Dublin. It's a great way to toast a great trip to the Emerald Isle!