Earlier this year, in June, we were fortunate enough to spend several weeks on our beautiful north coast. One of my favourite places is the area around Portballintrae.
Looking west with Donegal on the horizon
Looking east towards the Giants Causeway (out of sight, beyond the white building in the centre left of the picture)
The River Bush (Bushmills Irish Whiskey) as it enters the sea
Lovely days by the sea.
We’ve been blessed with some lovely weather recently and so it was this morning when we decided to walk around Lurgan Park.
The park was originally part of the Brownlow Estate when the “big” house was built in 1833. During WW1 the house was the headquarters of the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment and during WW2 it was the headquarters for all the American Troops based in Ireland. There is a small museum in the house as well as a tea room which serves lunches.
It is a wonderful place to walk with many paths around the park and lake and so many beautiful trees! A quiet and peaceful place today!
However, on Saturday (1st Saturday in June) the Park will stage the Lurgan Show. It has been organised in the park annually since 1912 and showcases rural life including agricultural and equestrian events. It’s amazing to learn that it is organised by volunteers supported by the local Council. If we make it there I will try to remember to take my camera and take some pictures! Let’s hope this lovely weather remains over the weekend.
On the way home from Cookstown having done a short walk there in Cabin Wood, I returned via the “scenic” route, past Tullaghoge Rath. It is probably prehistoric, but better known for its connection to some of the ancient chieftains of Ulster, including the O’Neills, the last ceremonial inauguration being of Hugh O’Neill in 1593. I only had my phone with me and a short time to wander about this lovely place, but the pictures it takes are reasonable.
The views of the surrounding countryside are amazing!
It was such a lovely morning, we decided to head for the nearest coast, the Irish Sea at Murlough Bay, County Down.
We followed the boardwalk through the dunes.
That’s Slieve Donard in the middle, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain at 850m (2790ft). We couldn’t believe how good the views were today.
Continuing on the boardwalk the sea eventually came into view.
Then out onto the beach. Wow!
The pictures say it all: wonderful.
We ended up in Newcastle for our picnic lunch, then a stroll along the front with an ice cream. What more can I say?
The last picture is looking north from Newcastle, back to our starting point. What a wonderful day!
That’s how it’s been for me lately; which way do I turn. Which path to take. I need to take stock and focus on a recurring dream I have: maps, routes, landscapes.
I’m a great fan of books by Robert Macfarlane and one book that comes to mind just now is Landmarks. It’s a book about language and landscape and after each chapter, the author adds a glossary of words relating to the landscape of that chapter, for example, flowing water words like the Gaelic “caochan” meaning slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation, Sussex “rife” for a small river flowing across a coastal plain, or Yorkshire “sike” for a small stream flowing through marshy ground. I am no linguist or language expert but just look what I’m missing! Words used describing the natural environment of these islands come from so many different languages and cultures, including Irish, Welsh, Old English, Gaelic, Cornish…….and so the list goes on. The book also wishes to capture these words now and hold them for future generations. Macfarlane tells of the deletion of words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary because they are not relevant to modern day childhood. Words like acorn, beech, conker, and many, many more. By contrast, newly introduced words thought to be more relevant to the children of today are bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom and so on.
I’ve just written all of that and whilst I bought Landmarks when it was first published in 2015, I think I shall have to read it again, and all his other brilliant books!
The East Strand, Portrush
Yes! The sea and the sand with some sunshine! Unfortunately, it is bitterly cold.
It is only April after all.
It’s cold; there’s a fresh breeze blowing from the northwest, but it is a wonderful day! A day to help blow away all grief and sadness and look forward to a quiet Christmas.