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WELCOME TO GNWS TRAVEL GUIDE FOR IRELAND
EXPERIENCE COUNTY ANTRIM WITH GNWS
- Occupying the north eastern corner of Ireland, County Antrim is home to a stunning collection of picture postcard coastal towns and villages coupled with spectacular scenery for visitors to discover during a short break or vacation in Northern Ireland. From the breathtakingly beautiful Torr Head – only 13 miles from the Scottish Mainland, to Lough Neagh (the largest lake in Ireland), Antrim certainly merits its reputation as the most visted county in Northern Ireland, offering the discerning traveller genuine Irish hospitality and exquisite cuisine to savour in its award-winning restaurants and hotels.
Antrim is Northern Ireland’s principal gateway to Scotland and England, connected to both Belfast and Larne by regular Irish Sea ferry services. Home to Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast serves as an excellent base for discovering the Antrim Coast and the Antrim Glens, situated to the north of the city. To the east of the county, Antrim’s magnificent littoral is well worth exploring, lined with breathtaking coves and majestic steep headlands where the Glens of Antrim meet the sea.
Giant’s Causeway (Clochan an Aifir), one of Ireland’s most prominent and distinctive landforms perches on Antrim’s north coast from where vsitors can glance over to the Scottish Mainland, weather permitting. Home to 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, Giant’s Causeway owes its name to a legendary giant known as Finn McCool who had a penchant for a female giant on the Hebridean Island of Staffa and in his quest to meet her, he constructed the steeping stones to Staffa, where a similar structures are found. The more prosaic reason for this intricate hexagonal landmass is the result of hot lava crystalising into the forms that visitors can see today, some 60 million years ago. Its formation is clearly illustrated at the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre from where you can make the one mile pilgrimage to this spectacular geological site.
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For those who have enjoy the delights of sampling whiskeys, Country Antrim is the home of Bushmills, the world’s oldest legal distillery dating from 1608. Records indicate that distilling was undertaking centuries before, but today, visitors are rewarded with a guided tour of the Bushmills Distillery followed by a whiskey tasting session where you may compare Bushmills with other leading labels. Nearby is the picturesque town of Ballycastle which serves as a leading centre for spending a vacation in Antrim’s North Coast, boasting an excellent provision of hotels, two backpackers hostels and B&B’s. Nestling in Ballycastle Bay where the Atlantic links with Irish Sea, Ballycastle stages a cultural feast of festivals including the Northern Lights Festival in Late May, a three-day music and dance festival known as Fleadh Amhran agus Rince in June as well as one of Ireland’s oldest fairs, Ould Lammas Fair which was officially inaugurated in 1606.
One of the Antrim’s last bastions of folklore traditions can be found in the stunningly beautiful Glens of Antrim in the north east of the corner of the county, near the market town of Ballymena. The Glens folk continue to be renowned as great storytellers, enchanting both locals and visitors with the haunts of the 'wee folk' at Lurigethan Mountain and Tiveragh Hill. According to ancient folklore, the mischievous fairies are said to seek vengeance on those who remove a fairy thorn from the mountainside. This spectacular region is criss-crossed with rushing rivers, awesome white water cascades, wild flowers and wildlife, combining peaceful isolation with physical beauty. From Glenarm to Glentaisie, you can bear witness to traditional ways of life that have been an integral part of Antrim's heritage for centuries.