Belfast, Northern Ireland (August 19, 2019)

We sailed down the long River Clyde out of Glasgow and into the North Sea and moseyed the 87 nautical miles south and west to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. We woke to gray skies with the prediction of a high of 63 and 50% chance of rain off and on. It was out first time in Northern Ireland. The big news: we skipped breakfast altogether. Not even coffee and eggs from room service like we had done the last couple of shore days. Good decision because our first stop along the Antrim coast was for tea and scones.

Our guide was knowledgeable as well as a comedian just like all the others. He warmed us up with a few jokes about Americans but mostly broke bad on the Scots. Always with a wicked grin. When he was not being silly he spoke like he was reading from a history text and welcomed our questions. He told us about the ancient system of farming where a field was defined as a space large enough to graze a single cow. Needless to say farms were pretty darn small back then. He went on to tell us about the Vikings who raided monasteries for their treasures and took slaves to trade in foreign ports. In time they quit raiding and came to Ireland to trade for, of all things, butter. After the Vikings lost interest the Normans came from France and finally the English who never left. Just about the time Jamestown was being settled in North America, England slowly began to withdrew its troops from Ireland and in their place created settlements called plantations which, at the king’s insistence, were financed and managed by successful merchants. The merchants needed to profit from this endeavor, of course, and did so by deforestation leaving Northern Ireland the most deforested country in all of Europe. The merchants recruited mostly Scots to immigrate to Ireland and work in the timber.

Between stops our guide continued with one interesting story or tidbit after another. Things like Northern Ireland’s 1.8 million people are far outnumbered by sheep, most of which are exported to France. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of this principally agricultural country that has been part of the United Kingdom since 1922 when it was separated from the Republic of Ireland to its south. The guide clearly has a soft spot for the 100,000 men who were lost to the battle of the North Atlantic during WWII and shared a couple of stories about Americans who went to England to volunteer to help before the United States entered the war. We thoroughly enjoyed all the commentary.

Guide aside, the ride along the Antrim Coast was very pretty. The beaches were either beautiful white sand or a combination of boulders and rocks of black basalt and white limestone. We passed bailed hay protected from the weather by black plastic wrap. Most homes were white or taupe and the towns were neat, tidy, litter free, and charming. We even passed an outdoor laundromat which seemed out of place is this damp, cool  country.

Our first stop for the day was to see Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which is almost 100 feet above the water. It spans the 20 meters between the mainland and a small island that used to be used as a salmon fishing camp. The fishing must have been great because this camp was 100 feet above the water so a tad inconvenient.

Our second stop was far and away the highlight of the day: the Giant’s Causeway. The visitor center for this UNESCO World Heritage Site had an orientation film that familiarized us with the mythological giant, Finn McCool, who carved four miles of this craggy coastline with upwards of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. For those more science minded, the film went on to explain that Finn might have had an assist from intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago when successive flows of lava inched toward the coast and cooled when they came in contact with the sea. At first glance we were not impressed, but once we walked down to the beach we were won over by the fact that these stone pillars each have five to seven irregular sides, making them look like carved stepping stones leading from the cliffs into the sea. They range from 15-20 inches in diameter and are as tall as 80 feet. Some are integrated into the cliff side and look like a huge pipe organ.

We had a delicious roast beef and Yorkshire pudding lunch at 3:00 before heading back to the ship. Because our mid-day meal was so late we settled for a snack at the buffet on board for dinner.

Danielle Williams sang and played the piano and sax for us tonight.


The Scots assert that whisky is their gift to mankind. The problem: the Irish confidently assert the same. Seems the key is distillation. Who taught whom this process.
Vikings? Arabians? Traveling monks?
The jury is out.

The Titanic was built in Belfast.

Brothers William and Anthony Traill invented the world’s first electric tramway with the construction of the Giant’s Causeway Tramway in 1883.

Ireland’s cyclists benefited from Belfast-based John Dunlop’s air-filled tubes long before cars made Dunlop tires famous.

Frank Pantridge invented the portable defibrillator in 1966 and has been dubbed the ‘Father of Emergency Medicine.’




4 thoughts on “Belfast, Northern Ireland (August 19, 2019)

  1. So fun, sounds like you had a great guide

    Matt Mongeon, PMP, Technical Project Manager II
    Engineering Management Office
    PMP,ITIL Foundation, RCV, OSA, SOA, PPO
    5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105
    • 619.266.5675 (ex. 55675) |( 619.822.4661 | •


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