Places here have so much history. In American, it seems we want everything to be new and updated. We are losing historic places to time and modernization. On Wednesday, we visited three iconic natural landmarks, The Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and The Dark Hedges. On Thursday, we visited the city of Derry and the tallest sea cliffs in Europe, Slieve League Cliffs. Both days we traveled around on the Shamrocker Bus Tour, and were led by our tour guide, Conor.
In Northern Ireland, picturesque cliffs have their own detailed legends. Pictures of The Giant’s Causeway don’t do it justice. I feel like I’ll be saying that a lot on this tour. Walking along the cliffs, you truly felt like you were in a place where giants lived. Our tour guide told us the science behind how the area was formed, and then told us the legend about how it was formed. The legend goes that Finn McCool, a giant, lived at the cliffs. He got into some trouble with another giant and his wife came up with a plan to dress him up as a baby so he could hide from the other giant. When the other giant arrived at Finn McCool’s house, the wife invited him in. When he saw the size of what he thought was Finn McCool’s baby, he ran back across the causeway because of how big Finn McCool must be if his baby was that big. In his haste to flee he destroyed the causeway, making it into what it is today. Few places in American have legends like this unless they are from indigenous peoples. In Michigan, all I can think of is the Paul Bunyan stories. The history and legends of places here I find so interesting because of how old they are, yet they have stood the test of time.
Dunluce Castle also has an interesting legend. No one has lived in the castle since 1642. The legend goes that one night during dinner the kitchen of the castle fell into the ocean. The lady of the castle made everyone leave and no one has lived there since. The castle has become a ruin, yet it is still standing due to the impressive craftsmanship employed to build the castle. This castle is also a location from Game of Thrones. It is used as the castle for House Greyjoy.
The Dark Hedges are another location used in Game of Thrones. The iconic trees are recognizable as the King’s Road. Our tour guide said that so many more people have come to the area because it is in Game of Thrones. The pub we went to for dinner had a Game of Throne room, full of things from the show like a map of Westeros and an Iron Throne. In the town we are staying in, the beach here was used as the setting of the Iron Islands in the show. The fact that Game of Thrones can change the focus of an area from local history to people wanting to see where some of a TV was filmed show the power a good TV show can have.
We arrived at our first hostel Wednesday evening. It was in a small town on the coast. The views were to die for. This was one of my favorite stops just because of the pictures I took.
We walked along the coast and saw the sunset, and then in the morning we walked a grassy path down to the beach. On Thursday we walked, walked, and walked some more. We visited the town of Derry, a place I would love to go back to. The city seemed full of history and culture. Then we visited Slieve League. It was a two mile walk up some steep hills to get to the top of the cliffs. We were all exhausted, but the views were worth it. Nothing back home can compare to what we saw the past two days. The culture and history of this place goes back centuries. Conor told us ancient Irish history on the bus the past two days. In America, our history has fewer legends and is newer. Comparing the two is hard because they are so different. Almost every landmark and small town here has its own history which is known and celebrated. It makes me wonder more about what I can do to promote local history back home.