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Magnificent Dunluce Castle.
Magnificent Dunluce Castle.
Carrick-a-Rede Bridge.
The amazing Giant's Causeway.

Antrim Coast Drive

Thursday, December 13, 2001
Maureen Wheeler ventures to the East Coast of Northern Ireland on a drive along the Antrim Coast - passing through pretty villages and beaches, which is said to be one of the most beautiful and dramatic drives in the country.

Along the Antrim Coast between towns and villages, the road is tranquil, but once you arrive in a little town it's a hive of activity, buzzing with people chatting, shopping and enjoying any sunshine that may be around.

Cushendall sits on a bay called Moyle. On a clear day you can see to the Mull of Kintyre and the Scottish mainland. The village is famous for its fiddlers, storytellers and the ruins of a 14th century church.

Cushendon on the Irish Sea is mostly owned by the National Trust, and if anyone wishes to build there, the construction must be in accordance with the surroundings, and match existing buildings. The population is 350, and it's home to McBrides, supposedly the smallest pub in Ireland, which can comfortably hold about 25 patrons.

Ballycastle is where the Irish Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, and the Antrim Coast becomes the Causeway Coast. The beaches are simply beautiful, but mostly for looking at. The water is always freezing and it takes a brave person to take the plunge.

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge joins the mainland to Carrick-a-Rede Island. It is in position from late April to September, and access is via a cliff path, about eight kilometres west of Ballycastle. The bridge swings 25m above the sea and is made of planks strung between wires. It stretches 20m to a small island where there is a commercial salmon fishery.

The Giant's Causeway consists of 37,000 polygonal columns of basalt that are about 60 million years old. A massive subterranean explosion spewed out molten basalt and it cooled into the massive crystals you see today.

Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, built Dunluce Castle. It is mostly in ruins now, but its history is fascinating. It was often under siege, and in 1584 was captured from the English by Sorley Boy MacDonnell. In 1588 the Girona, a Spanish Armada treasure ship, was wrecked just off the Causeway. MacDonnell took the loot and modernised the castle.

James I made MacDonnell's son Viscount Dunluce and Earl of Antrim, but during a severe storm in 1639 part of the castle fell into the sea. The family promptly packed up and moved out.


North of Belfast on the east coast of Ireland.


Driveaway Holidays has seven-day car hire starting at $48 per day.
Qantas flies daily to London, with British Airways connections to Belfast. Return airfares start at $1849 from the east coast, Adelaide and Perth.

More information

All Ireland Tourism (02) 9299 6177
Qantas 13 13 13

Book your flight to London HERE!

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