We left Belfast early this morning to embark on the Shamrocker tour bus for a three day tour from Belfast to Dublin. This tour takes us from Belfast to the coast so that we can make stops and visit some of the most popular attractions in Ireland along the way to Dublin.
Today’s visit started with a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. This causeway is part of a famous Irish myth. They say the unique hexagonal square steps in the causeway are created by a giant’s footsteps as he ran away from a man who challenged him to battle. But really, the giant was tricked into leaving by a clever plan set up by the man and his wife in order to scare him off. The causeway is home to several other Irish myths and full of beautiful views of the bay and surrounding land and water in Bushmills. They say on a clear day you can see all the way to Scotland; but unfortunately today was not that day.
The next stop we made was to Dunluce Castle, which is most recently famous for being the set for the home of family Greyjoy in the popular television series Game of Thrones. The castle is now in ruins, but is still rich with history and a very popular site for tourists today. As a big fan of the Game of Thrones series, I was really excited to be able to see an area that was used for the show’s sets. I can only imagine what this place must have been like during filming.
The final stop on our tour today was to the Dark Hedges, which are also featured in Game of Thrones. In the show, the Dark Hedges make up what is known as King’s Road on the way to King’s Landing. The Dark Hedges are made up of large warped trees covering the path leading to a famous family manor and creating a beautiful symmetrical view down the road.
This was also quite interesting for me, as I had no idea that this area was used as a set, and I didn’t really know just how many parts of Ireland were used for filming the show in general. I also find myself liking plants a lot more as I get older, so I loved looking at how these large trees framed and covered the road.
Our final destination was in Ballintoy for the night. It is an incredibly small town with no cell service. We are also staying in a hostel with Wi-Fi that isn’t really accessible. This will be my first time staying in a hostel so I am both nervous and excited to see how things turn out. There are seven of us girls in my room and the showers seem questionable. I also do not like the idea of not having locks on our doors, but we are all working together to make each other feel safe and comfortable even though it is a big adjustment from the last hotel we stayed at.
The next day on the Shamrocker tour, we explored places like Dunseverick Castle and the Slieve League cliffs. These cliffs are the tallest in Europe. For our trip to the top of the cliffs, we had to trek two miles uphill on an unusually warm day in Ireland. Although the climb was long and arduous, the view from the top was well worth the trouble. Tomorrow will be our last day on the Shamrocker, and then we will spend a few nights in Dublin before leaving for Wales.
Our final day on the Shamrocker Tour was spent learning about more folktales and visiting a few sites that date back to the saints and the old high kings of Ireland. The most fascinating segment of this part of the tour was when we went to the Hill of Tara. This site has many ties to Saint Patrick and was not only beautiful, but a cultural experience for us as well. We don’t really have a lot of folklore in the U.S., so I really enjoyed learning about all of the stories from ancient Ireland, and then hearing another version that is based more on factual info. Overall, our time on the Shamrocker was a lot of fun and really made me appreciate the countryside now that we will be staying in major cities for the rest of the trip.