Embrace a Giant Spirit
Trone is the largest county in the North and is overflowing with a variety of scenery from the majestic Sperrin Mountains that reach 2,000 foot to the gentle hills and river valleys of the plains. This sprawling hilly county is replete with ancient forests and unspoilt scenery but also boasts busy towns like Omagh and Dungannon.
One of the main attractions located in the Omagh area is the Ulster-American Folk Park. Four miles north of Omagh, the park is an outdoor museum that tells the story of emigration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Two US former presidents no less have links with Tyrone – Ulysses S. Grant and Woodrow Wilson.
A whole new star-gazing experience has come to County Tyrone with the recent opening of the OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory at Davagh Forest, near Cookstown. Davagh boasts one of the ‘darkest skies’ in Ireland, and with little light pollution the area offers crystal clear views of star constellations. The new site is close to the ancient Beaghmore Stone Circles, a complex of early Bronze Age megalithic features, stone circles and cairns.
Fermanagh, the most westerly county of Northern Ireland, presents a perfect blend of scenery, history and culture. With its many lakes, rivers and wooded islands, water is a predominant feature, covering 30% of the county. This makes County Fermanagh a paradise for boating, fishing, canoeing and the wildlife that finds a home in this beautiful county. County Fermanagh is filled with marinas and it’s easy to hire everything from small boats, barges, and kayaks, to canoes and paddleboards across the county. The county is a mecca for anglers who travel from all over Ireland, the UK, France, Netherlands, Germany and beyond to enjoy some of the most prolific angling available anywhere in Europe.
Devenish Island, on Lower Lough Erne, is one of Ireland’s great monastic heritage sites. Also worth checking out is the pretty village of Belleek which is world-famous for the pottery business. Founded in 1857 by John Caldwell Bloomfield, Beeleek Pottery has become synonymous with flawlessly simple and delicate pottery.
County Fermanagh boasts a wealth of fine country estates, demesnes and castles. The 5* Lough Erne Resort which hosted the 2013 G8 world-leaders summit boasts some of the finest golf, dining and spa facilities in Northern Ireland, while National Trust properties Crom Estate and Florence Court, and Enniskiilen Castle are all well worth a visit.
From stunning mountains and vistas to the resting place of St. Patrick himself, Co. Down in Northern Ireland has much to offer. The Mourne Mountains dominate the south of the county and there are waking routes up each of the mountains to suit all fitness levels. In the foothills you’ll find forests including Tollymore Forest Park and Castlewellan Forest Park, located in a dramatic setting of mountains and sea. If it’s castles you’re after, then you’ve come to the right place. The biggest and best known – thanks to Game of Thrones –is Castle Ward which is famous for its views over the peaceful waters of Strangford Lough. Scrabo Tower in Newtownards is another towering masterpiece. This monument stands proud on a step hill 540 feet above sea level and 125 feet high. No visit would be complete without a visit to the charming and highly educational Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum in Holywood, Co. Down (birthplace of golf-great Rory McIlroy). Across 170 acres of rolling countryside overlooking Belfast Lough you will find a historically accurate recreation of an Ulster town, complete with thatched cottages, farms, schools and shops, populated by costumed visitor guides to educate you about day-to-day life a century ago.
Welcome to Derry~Londonderry, the home of Ireland’s only completely intact historic Walled City, the Derry Girls, award winning museums and world-class visitor experiences. It’s also the perfect hub for exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route. Derry humour has been brought to our screens in recent years with the Derry Girls and you can’t miss the giant mural on the side of Badger’s Bar. The real star of the show, however, is the city’s historic 400 year old walls. Either go it alone on a walk revealing a city full of history, heritage and a vibrant cultural scene, or join a guided tour with Martin McCrossan’s City Tours. Visit the beautifully ornate Guildhall, part of the city’s history since 1887 and host to presidents, playwrights and poets over the years. Walk across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington Square, before stopping off for lunch or a drink at The Walled City Brewery. A visit to The Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Derry’s most famous poet is located just 45 minutes away in Bellaghy. This fully immersive experience is filled with personal stories, images and the voice of the poet himself.
Armagh is Northern Ireland’s smallest county, also known as the Orchard County. Discover the heartland of St. Patrick who is reputed to have built a church here in 445AD. Today, in the Cathedral City, you can explore the Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on a hill above the city and St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral resting on the site of the original stone church. Beyond the city, you’ll find the legendary Emain Macha (Navan Fort), dedicated to Macha, the ancient goddess of war and fertility. The stronghold of the hero Cuchulainn and home to the famous Red Branch Knights, it’s now an interactive experience that takes you right back to life in the Iron Age. Armagh is famous for it’s orchards and has 6,000 acres of apple trees across the county. The Bramley Apple and Armagh cider are two established favourites.
County Antrim is a perfect snapshot of Northern Ireland. Not only is it home to the dynamic city of Belfast and The Titanic Experience, but you will also find spectacular cliff top walks and dramatic sea views, all just a stone’s throw from fine seafood restaurants. Check out the grounds of the 400-year old Antrim Castle and Gardens on Lough Neagh or charming Carrickfergus Castle or the wonderful walled garden of Glenarm Castle. Fans of Game of Thrones will enjoy the world famous Dark Hedges in Ballymoney whilst you can spend the day exploring The Glens of Antrim which of course includes the renowned Giant’s Causeway.
Whatever you try and wherever you go in County Antrim, there is no shortage of things to do and amazing places to stay such as Ballygally Castle Hotel, The Grand Central Hotel, Culloden Estate and Spa, Europa Hotel, Stormont Hotel, Belfast and many more.