Dunluce looks like it should be haunted. An awe inspiring broken down castle at the very edge of the North Irish coast road it sits still and black amidst the green. The Sea of Moyle crashes below it and can be seen through grills set in the stone to protect tourists from falling onto the rocks below. The castle itself appears to be of a black stone, craggy and hand hewn, it’s wooden beams long since fallen away but the height of its walls encourage the imagination to move back to a time when the castle echoed with shouts and gathered its citizens in to protect.
The castle is prefaced by green, a deep classically Irish emerald green. Like velvet the grass is always cool and damp to the touch, inhabited by toads, stoats, newts and frogs but true to legend no snakes. The drive down a damp slicked road travelling East from Dunluce towards the Giant’s Causeway is made extraordinary by huge bushes edging the lanes. There appears to be deep red flowers growing from the grass at the base of these almost black trees. As you stop to let the sheep cross the road you realize these are ten feet tall fuschia trees dropping their flowers and carpeting the road sides. A sense of wonder and home intermingle with the sea mist and it becomes easy to believe in silkies, giants and the Tuatha De Danaan.
Standing on the cliffs at Fair Head and looking off to the west you can see the Republic whose lands in Donegal push further North than any Northern Irish land, a riot of green travelling between it and you. Narrow lanes fenced by stone hand laid and locked into place with consummate skill. Mile long puzzle pieces pulled from a land that couldn’t feed its own anything more than this rock. Rain rinsed skies meet a magical coastline as you move East into Torr Head and the Glenns.
Torr Head looks directly across the Irish Sea to the Mull of Kintyre. The tides of Torr Head are lethal but often it was easier to dare the crossing to Scotland as the valleys and mountains of the Glenns behind were more treacherous than the tides. Breathtaking in their beauty each of the nine glens of Antrim huddle with secrets. Names redolent of fairies, and wee folk; Glenarm, Glencloy, Glenballyeamon, Glenaan, Glencorp, Glendun, Glenshesk and Glentaisie. Glenariff the ‘queen of the glens’, with its surging waterfalls one of which bears the name ‘tears of the mountain’.
The pure clean white light of Irish skies illuminates the ladder farms running up the valley sides, peat stained rivers, rough rocky terrain covered in bluebell haze and tiny lambs. Cushendun at the foot of Glendun and Glencorp was the perfect ferry spot for the Clans as they fled to Ireland the beach stretches for miles fed from the glacial streams of the mountainous glens. Cushendall sits at the summits of Lurigethan and Tievebulliagh where the Fairies are said to hide inside. These mountains and adjacent glens are scattered with the traces and remains of man’s existence since Neolithic times.
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