Portrush County Antrim

I posted (some time ago) a few pictures that I took at the furthest end of the East Strand at Portrush near a place called the White Rocks (named this way because of the colour of the limestone cliffs overlooking the bay) but I haven’t put up any pictures of the actual town area itself. Portrush is undoubtedly Northern Irelands premiere seaside resort with thousands visiting here in the Summer months taking advantage of its two long beaches, amusement rides, and some pretty decent dining too. We visited back in early June this year on a day during the school week, and as you can see the weather was absolutely stunning with very few people there at all – hard to believe, that just a few weeks later, the streets here would be mobbed with families and children. I have to say though, we like it much better when its quiet, particularly in Winter when it takes on a much more melancholy feel yet still retains a wild beauty with the waves crashing onto the shore. Its a great spot for an off season night away and the restaurants here (55 North, The Ramore Restaurant etc) are really excellent and always open.

 

portrush (1)    portrush (7)

The iconic old railway station clock in Portrush, constructed in mock Tudor style and standing here since the station was completed in the early 1890s. A grandfather clock which stood inside the old station is now on display in Barrys Amusements (the entrance seen in picture 2) which is the largest theme park in Northern Ireland and hits its 90th birthday this year having opened in 1926. Barrys remains a huge draw for all visitors to Portrush and many have fond memories of visiting there as a child (including me):-)

portrush (17)  portrush (3)

You might be forgiven for thinking the first picture here is some ocean going liner but it is in fact an area right in the centre of town created for sitting down and having a rest with huge fake masts giving the impression of a ship. If you get the angle just right with your camera the effect is pretty good. The second picture is of Portrushs other iconic landmark, The Arcadia, which is certainly the most photographed location in the town being built in the 1920s. It originally opened as a cafe (which it is today) but became a ballroom for dancing in 1953 and the large complex (now demolished) that once stood behind it played host to many concerts in the 70s and 80s seeing bands like The Stranglers, The Undertones, and Ian Dury play there. I remember the building itself even being a roller disco at one point but I guess I’m showing my age here. I have to say I find the Arcadia enthralling, there’s just something about it. If a building could speak it would have some stories to tell in its 90 years of life, and hopefully it has 90 more.

 

portrush (6)

There are 2 “strands” in Portrush (another name for its two long beaches at either side of the town) one being the West, and one being the East. The East Strand (seen above) regularly wins a blue flag for its water quality and amenities and its 2.5miles of gorgeous white sand and huge dunes (search “Portrush” on the site here to see pictures of those) really could compete with any of the beaches in Europe. Its a wonderful walk out here on a sunny day looking out to the off shore islands of The Skerries. Its not uncommon to see Basking sharks feeding along here too with their huge fins being visible from the beach (don’t be scared though, they’re harmless).

 

portrush (12) portrush (9)

The beach at the opposite side of town (the West Strand) which as you can see from the information sign here has enthralled visitors since the Victorian age. This little horse was out for a walk along the promenade the day we were there. Maybe hes a sea horse.:-)

 

portrush (15) portrush (16)

Not a cloud in the sky…. A swathe of Portrush guesthouses overlooking the harbour. The second picture here showing the much lauded Portrush lifeboat which has been the saviour of many a poor soul finding themselves in difficulty in the waters around the town. If you look just to the left of the lifeboat you should be able to see the Ramore Restaurant complex which for many years has had a great reputation for good food when in the town – see here: http://www.ramorerestaurant.com/

 

portrush (18)

Portrush….. A great place to visit. Any time of the year.

Titanic Belfast, Titanic Quarter & SS Nomadic

Once again Ive fallen a bit behind with posting a months pictures as work (and our new house needing decorating) just got in the way. Sadly my May 2016 post sunk into oblivion and never came to fruition but (again) I really want to get things back on track particularly now that I’m paying for the website (as my free WordPress allowance burst its seams with the amount of pictures Ive posted haha).

So talking of things that sunk (see what I did there?) its time for a visit to the hugely popular Titanic Centre area of Belfast although I didn’t actually visit any of the exhibitions there, I just wandered around outside snapping the vast area of land it covers. But it was a really enjoyable walk and it was totally free.

 

titanic (7)

The huge Titanic sign at the main entrance to the exhibition centre. There’s car parking below the centre that costs £1.50 per hour and there’s a cafe inside too if you just wanted to visit the area and pop in.

 

titanic (2)  titanic (6)

The June weather was wonderful on the day of my visit, and the Titanic building itself is pretty impressive dominating the skyline with every angle offering a different photo opportunity.

titanic (4)

Around the back of the Titanic building is Titanic Studios which used to be called the Paint Hall where all the components of the ships built here were painted and kept in climate controlled conditions. Today however, its actually much more interesting with the building becoming one of the biggest film studios in Europe, and being the filming location for movies and TV series such as City of Ember, Your Highness, Series 1 of Game of Thrones, and the very recent release of Ben Wheatleys “High Rise”.

titanic (5)

There are many signs and information boards around the area so you really don’t have to pay to see any of the exhibitions in the main building if you’re on a tight budget (and you can of course enter the building for free too).

titanic (14)

Please don’t climb up behind this lady whilst singing a Celine Dion song:-)

 

titanic (12)

Across the road and facing the front of the Titanic Centre you can also visit the SS Nomadic which was tender to the Titanic and its also the last White Star Line surviving ship in the world.

titanic quarter (52)

The SS Nomadic has been fully restored and for less then £8 you can go on board and look around.

titanic (9)

titanic (13)

The Nomadic really has been restored to an excellent condition and looks fantastic sitting in the summer sunshine.

titanic (10)

Nomadic sitting on a shallow sea of algae. You can see how close it is to the Titanic building just to the left. Its a great little area for strolling around for a few hours for sure.

titanic (1)

And before I left I just had to snap one of these iconic yellow monsters piercing the blue sky of Belfast on such a lovely June day.

Whitepark Bay, County Antrim, Panorama View

Ive been a little busy this past month or so as our landlord decided to sell the house we’ve been renting (privately for 5 years) so we had to find another home (arrgh!) Its been a bit of a stressful time house-hunting but we finally found somewhere new and now its just a matter of getting everything packed up to move on. I really wanted to get a few pictures on the site for the month of April however as its almost over and I didn’t want to miss this months entry, so the two pictures below are just a quick post to fill the gap.:-)

The two photographs below were taken (as always with my trusty compact camera) from the roadside overlooking the beautiful Whitepark Bay in County Antrim. Ive already posted some pictures of Whitepark before (see here:  https://niviews.com/2015/02/18/whitepark-bay-north-coast-county-antrim/ ) but not from such a high vantage point as seen here. The pictures were taken back in June 2015 on a glorious summers day, and basically the first one is looking left from our stopping point on the road and the other is looking right. A truly stunning vista….

whitepark (6)

Looking left over Whitepark Bay, you can see the tiny village of Portbradden sitting just beyond the cliffs, and Fairhead is far off in the distance.

 

whitepark (5)

Looking right, down to the south end of the bay where you can hunt for one of the many prehistoric fossils strewn along the shore. Whitepark is a beautiful (and almost always tranquil) spot on the renowned County Antrim coast.

 

See you next month…..:-)

Bangor Castle, Bangor, County Down.

Bangor Castle was built for the Hon Robert Edward Ward and his family in 1852. It is presently the headquarters of North Down Borough Council who use the mansions spectacular grand salon as the council chamber. The building is situated in the grounds of Castle Park alongside North Down Museum and is just a short walk from Bangors Walled Garden.

DSC06998

The castle can be hired reasonably cheaply for wedding services and is a popular venue for those seeking a non-religious event.

DSC06985.JPG

Picture taken Christmas 2015 (spot the tree).

DSC06983 DSC06992

DSC06991

Bangor Castle overlooks the town of Bangor and its really worth having a walk around it and Castle Park behind. The walled garden (about ten minutes walk away) has just been used in the brand new film by Ben Wheatley called High Rise.

 

 

 

 

Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady, County Derry

If you venture just a little further beyond the wonderful Causeway Coastal route, heading in the direction of Londonderry, you’ll come to the tranquil Roe Valley Park. The Country Park stands on the outskirts of Limavady, running three miles along the banks of the River Roe. The river plunges through spectacular gorges with banks shrouded in a mixture of woodland. We arrived early in the morning as the winter sun broke through the mist…

DSC07579

A beautiful winters morning indeed.

DSC07591 DSC07619

You can walk along one side of the river, crossing over a bridge, then coming back again which is a total of 3 miles. Its all on a flat path so its suitable for everyone.

DSC07670

The river Roe here is a magnet for salmon and trout fishing.

DSC07663 DSC07608

Reflections on the water, silhouettes in the mist.

DSC07616

Such a calm and peaceful place to walk. Theres also a large tearoom near the park entrance to get some refreshments after youve returned.

Craigmore Railway Viaduct, Newry

The Craigmore Viaduct (Irish: an Tarbhealach Craig Mór, meaning “the great rock trans-way”) is a railway bridge near Bessbrook, County Armagh, locally known as the 18 Arches. Near Newry railway station.

The bridge was designed by John Benjamin Macneill, an eminent Irish civil engineer, with construction beginning in 1849 for the Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway. The bridge was formally opened in 1852. It spans the valley of Camlough River. The viaduct consists of 18 arches of 60 ft span, the highest being 126 ft, making Craigmore the highest viaduct in Ireland. It is around a quarter of a mile long and was constructed from granite stone blocks from the nearby Goraghwood quarry near Goraghwood station, which for many years supplied ballast to the Dublin & Belfast Junction Railway’s lines.

craigmore (5)

A beautiful day underneath Craigmore

craigmore (1)

The Dublin-Belfast railway line crosses the bridge. From 1885 to 1948, the Bessbrook and Newry Tramway ran under the viaduct. On 2 March 1989, a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb damaged Craigmore Viaduct, exploding just four minutes before a passenger train from Dublin was due to leave nearby Newry Station. A clearance operation had to be mounted and the railway line was closed and not reopened until 8 March 1989.

craigmore (3)

Killevy Old Churches, Ring of Gullion, County Armagh

The important early convent of Killevy was founded towards the end of the 5th century by St Moninna, also known as Darerca or Bline. It remained a house of nuns for almost 1000 years. In 923 the place was plundered by Vikings from Carlingford Lough and in 1146 many people were killed by a great wind that caused damage all over the north. The very long narrow ‘church’ you see below is in fact two churches which have been joined together. The west churches massive lintelled door dates from the 10th century. Monastic life continued at Killevy into the Middle Ages, with the foundation of an Augustinian convent, probably in the late 12th century. There are frequent references in medieval documents, several of them reflecting increasing tensions between church and lay power. 
killevy (8)

The joined churches at Killevy.

killevy (1)

The site has a long history of ancient worship here

 

killevy (2)

The most notable architectural feature is the steeply-pitched east gable, complete with fine coping stones and large window opening. Although many of the cut stones have been removed, if you look closely you can see the small bar holes in the jambs, the fact that they are mismatched showing that the window was once divided by a central mullion. There are also carved heads, both crowned, either side of the window on the outside.

killevy (3)

Killevy Church dominates the skyline

 

killevy (5)

The south wall contains the remains of two rectangular window openings and a small wall cupboard, probably used to hold sacred vessels during worship. There are no windows in the north wall, but towards the east end is a curious lintelled doorway, perhaps intended to echo the west door in the adjacent earlier church but clumsy and unskilled by comparison. It may have led out to domestic buildings, including the house of the abbess where Cunisburgh resigned in 1477, but no trace survives and the area is covered by burials.

killevy (6)

Several cut and worked stones can be identified in the space between the two churches, including a large granite slab with a cross in low relief, probably originally used as a grave marker or cover and possibly dating from the 12th or 13th centuries.