By Stephen Campbell–
With the end of the semester fast approaching and many wondering what to do with their summer, especially seniors it seemed like a good time to write an article about why people should visit Northern Ireland.
The legacy of Northern Ireland in the 1980s and the view that most people around the world had of us around this time is evident in our portrayal in movies such as Brad Pitt’s all-action IRA gunman in the film “The Devil’s Own.” To this day stereotypes continue in movies like “The Boondock Saints” or in bars where patrons routinely order an “Irish Car Bomb” drink.
However the reality of Northern Ireland since the move towards peace in the early to mid-1990s and the subsequent political agreement between the opposing sides has created a diverse culture which has moved into the new millennia a renewed appreciation for our differences leading to a shared peace and prosperity for our wee Island.
Moving forward has allowed the modern Northern Ireland to focus on what it has to offer visitors to our shores. From scenic views such as that of the Antrim coastline which has been voted the fifth most beautiful spot in the world, ranking next to the Victoria Falls in Zambia, to the bustling nightlife of Belfast, Northern Ireland has something to offer for everyone.
The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, draws visitors from all over the world and is Northern Ireland’s most visited attraction. Northern Ireland is the sight of the oldest known house in Ireland, dating back over 9,000 years as well as countless castles, churches and cathedrals and the historic walled city of Derry.
For the more active visitor there are a multitude of walks and hikes available through the Fermanagh Lakelands or the Mourne Mountains. For golfing enthusiasts we have some of the best golf courses in Europe, where current US Open Champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy honed their skills. As with any island there are also a range of watersports available including some of the world’s largest surfing waves, which will see Ireland play host to the European Surfing Championships 2011.
For those with Irish roots there is an opportunity to visit the towns of their ancestors. At the Ulster American Folk Park brings to life the drama of centuries of Irish emigration to North America, recreating everything from the houses and conditions the people lived in at the time, to the crowded ships headed for the New World. Also, an enduring source of pride in Belfast is that the RMS Titanic was built in its famous shipyards, despite the fact that it sank just five days into its maiden voyage.
Northern Ireland has all of this and more to offer to visitors including the legendary ability to show our visitors a good time!