Day Ten of My Trip to Ireland: Belfast and the Ulster Folk Museum, Giant's Causeway and The Burren  

Posted by Heidi

So dawned the morning of our tenth day in Ireland.  (Links to previous blog posts can be found at the end of this post).  This was the view from our ground floor room at the Sligo Park Hotel and Leisure Club.  So beautiful. 

This was the same view we had from the hotel restaurant but at a different angle.  It was a beautiful place.  True, when we got there, this area was filled with people including those who were sitting so close to our window that they could touch it, but that was a private party and was over in a couple of hours. 
I can certainly see why someone would want to hold a party here.  It would be a fabulous place for a wedding reception, too.  (I'm sure that happens frequently.)

Below is the dry brush app version.

This was taken in front of a house down the street from the hotel and given the dry brush treatment.

We checked out of the hotel in Sligo and got on the bus headed for Northern Ireland.  Our first stop was the Ulster Folk and Transportation Museum.  This was a wonderful place.  Once inside we had the option of starting with the outdoor displays or the indoor one.  We opted for the outdoor one (we never made it into the indoor display which I regret). 

But, truly, it would have been terrible to miss this.  We had been dying to get close up and personal to a true Irish thatched cottage and here we were able to photograph a number of them to our collective hearts' content.  (Below is the dry brush version.  Who needs painting talent with this wonderful app?)

There were lovely views from the back of these cottages.  It was so interesting--only one of the cottages had been here since it was built.  The others were brought here and placed together so that one could go through and see the disparity in how differently people lived from one class to another. 

The lower classes had a one room cottage with only one or two windows, so dark that I could not photograph anything inside of it.  There was a bedstead which the entire family shared and a fireplace and that was about it.  The floor was dirt and since the dirt was made of clay, when it rained, the family was living in wet clay.  Even in the winter.  They had no table.  Instead they put their potatoes in a large, flat circular basket and a few of them had very low, rough stools to sit on while they ate.  It was appalling and incredibly sad.  It was no wonder that so many of them would rather lay down and die in a hedge alongside the road in their attempt to get to someplace else.  Absolutely tragic.

The middle class had, perhaps, a two room cottage and more windows.  That house was also too dark for me to photograph anything on the inside. (Do you think they planned it this way?  see below)

It fills me with all kinds of thoughts and feelings to think that this stack of rocks and moss has been here For. Ev. Er. 

Since this trip happened in July and it is now February, I have forgotten some important details.  I am not sure if this is the middle class house or the finest one.  Either way, the nicest house has been there since it was built and was the birth place of Thomas Mellon, father of Andrew Mellon, the New York banker and philanthropist.  I suppose there is a moral to this story. 


Inside the Mellon homestead.  It had many lovely treasures and a great number of rooms and windows, but photography inside was still quite difficult.

We went from there to a darling little faux town with sweet storefronts and all sorts of fun things I should have photo'd.  Then we went to the transportation museum which had a wonderful partial replica of a ship which allowed its visitors to see just how small they were.  This doorway was in the "ticket station".

I could have spent days and days at the Ulster Folk and Transportation Museum but we needed to be on our way.  The below photograph (which was taken by my daughter) shows raindrops on the lens.  Our beautiful morning at the museum turned quite stormy and was only the second time we encountered rain during our entire trip. This was quite a rainstorm, however, and so I opted out of going out on the wet, slippery rocks.  The last time I did that, I slipped and broke my hand.  So, I stayed inside and watched the cartoon about Finn McCool and how his flight from another giant caused these strange columns of rocks (about six times) while Mary took the pictures.  (She got soaked, by the way.)

From there we drove through The Burren which is an area that has specific and unique geographical oddities and conditions that I really didn't care about.  (If you are dying to know, you could google it.)  This photo below (also taken by my daughter) is of a dolmen, which is an ancient burial site.  It decided to rain the moment we pulled up into the parking lot of this attraction and I pulled out my rain poncho and umbrella for the only time during our entire visit to Ireland. (We were so blessed.)

We drove from The Dolmen site into Belfast.  For those who are unaware, Belfast is the capitol city of Northern Ireland, which is a different country from the Republic of Ireland.  Except for the hours we spent at the Belleek factory, our drive into Ulster was our first time in Northern Ireland.  Here we used pounds sterling (at a higher exchange rate), encountered far fewer gluten free food options (or even people who knew what we were talking about) and a whole lot more general
big-city-personalities than we had during the rest of our stay.  Belfast is quite beautiful and famous for the most Victorian era buildings still surviving in all of (I can't remember if he said Ireland, Europe or the world). 

This was quite a change from the mostly Georgian era buildings that fill the cities of the Republic.  Both are beautiful and I loved it all.

We checked into our hotel and checked out the view from our window.  I was utterly captivated by this building (probably Victorian era Gothic Revival) but I never had a chance to go inside.  I seem to recall that it was a shopping mall and wasn't open in the hours that we were in this part of the city.

The clock tower that is cut off on the right side of this photo is the tower with the copper green trim a few photos up.

I tried so hard to capture the way the tiny panes of glass sparkled in the sun but I didn't manage it.

I have no idea why the final two photos of this amazing and detailed building (research seems to indicate that it started life as a Presbyterian church) turned golden rather than silver but maybe it had something to do with clouds and sunshine when I took them.

I just love all of the faces!  Each one is different than the last--so much work and talent!

To see more gorgeous (in some cases even MORE gorgeous) photos of my trip to Ireland, you can click on the various days:  Day ONE, TWO part 1, TWO part 2,  THREE part 1, THREE part 2THREE part 3FOUR part 1, FOUR part 2, FIVE part 1, FIVE part 2SIX, (I don't know what happened to day seven--I think I just mislabeled my posts)  EIGHT part 1, EIGHT part 2NINE

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