Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ireland Revisited: Armagh to the North Coast of Antrim

Day 8 of 35: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

View from our room, morning of the 11th

After checking out of our hotel, and before returning to the Observatory's hill for more exploration, we returned to the center of old Armagh city to return the key to the awful other hotel. (When we fled the place the previous afternoon, we weren't sure we would be able to find somewhere else to stay, so we had kept the key.)

In central Armagh (photo by Diane Harrington)

While parking our rental car in one of the lots off the main street, behind the hotel, we noticed something about the carparks that we hadn't noticed the day before:

The razor wire atop the stone walls of the carparks was startling. The Troubles are still close in memory in Armagh, and its evidence, I think, is seen not just in architectural appurtenances. We sensed a harder edge in people in the city's heart than we had felt elsewhere, but, truth be told, we may have brought some of that with us, knowing what little we do about Armagh's sad place in recent history. But additional truth be told, distressing echoes of the Troubles still are heard thereabouts: a month before, a bomb had cratered a road and destroyed a small stone bridge in southern County Armagh, and three days after our stay in the city another bomb detonated in the town of Lurgan about ten miles to the north, injuring three children.

The ongoing violence is noted in sadness, not judgement. My home state of California is, by any measure, a more violent place than Northern Ireland is. As Cervantes famously cautioned, If thy roof be made of glass, it shows small wit to pick up stones to pelt the people as they pass.

Armagh Observatory's historic main building

We left our disquiet behind quickly. When we arrived at the Observatory's hill just blocks away, the sunlight had become bright, as it would be through most of the day.

Children at the Hill of Infinity summit's modern stone circle

After walking the Hill of Infinity again, and exploring the Observatory grounds, we resumed our northward trip.

The day's travel

Our route to the next stop, a planned two-day stay at a B&B near the Giant's Causeway on the north coast, took us through the pretty village of Moy (invariably called "the Moy" by its people.) Diane wanted to stop there because it's the home town of a former member of her favorite musical group, "Celtic Thunder."

Approaching Moy from the south

The River Blackwater winds around Moy's southern flank. (Photo by Diane Harrington)

A pleasant northward drive through more prosperous-looking farm country eventually brought us to the North Coast of County Antrim and our home for, as it would turn out, a bit more time than we had planned on, Mabel Dunlop's Seaview bed and breakfast.

The Seaview, Bushmills, County Antrim

A slideshow of images from our two-day trip from Birr to Bushmills can be seen by clicking here.

Next: August 12, 2010 -- An Unexpected Turn
Previous: August 10, 2010 -- To Another Country
Beginning of the series: Prologue, August 2

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