A Weekend Trip to Northern Ireland

Champlain Abroad Dublin recently took a weekend trip to Northern Ireland for some unforgettable adventures. Friday was an early start, at 8 in the morning, but though everyone was a little tired, they were also excited to hit the road and head up north!

Our first stop was in the city of Belfast for a Political Black Taxi Tour of the city. Ciarán O’Rourke’s Northern Irish History class already had a background on the Troubles in Northern Ireland and I personally knew a little bit about the history of these events, but the Taxi Tours gave us such a new perspective. It’s one thing to hear about the Troubles in class, but it’s quite another thing to actually be in Northern Ireland and experience the area. It amazes me that 15 years ago, we wouldn’t even have gotten the opportunity to take this trip at all because of the conditions in Northern Ireland.

The taxi drivers told us a lot about the area and the history surrounding the Troubles. Some of the most interesting things that they showed us were the various murals honoring those who died in the Troubles located all around Belfast on the sides of houses. Here are just some of the many examples of art:

After the Taxi Tours, the group got the chance to explore Belfast a bit before we were back on the bus to our next stop, the Titanic Museum. The Titanic was actually built in Belfast and the museum focused a lot on how the ship was built. My dad actually works at a shipyard, so it was really cool for me to get to read about that aspect of the Titanic!

The Titanic Museum
The Kingsroad, from Game of Thrones!

There were many fans of Game of Thrones, the famous HBO TV show, on this trip, myself included, so we were excited to learn that we would be visiting some locations where the show is made! We got to see the Kingsroad, the Iron Islands of Pyke (a place called Ballintoy Harbour), and even the studios where the show is filmed (right next to the Titanic Museum)!

Our group stayed overnight in a hostel in the small but breathtakingly beautiful village of Ballintoy. That night was an evening filled with traditional Irish music, singing, and a lot of fun! After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to hit the road again on Saturday after a delicious full Irish breakfast provided by our hostel!

Our first stop was a morning walk to Ballintoy Harbour, the Game of Thrones location I mentioned earlier, which was absolutely beautiful! Here’s a group shot from the harbor, with the ocean behind us!

Champlain Abroad Dublin visiting Ballintoy

Then, we headed for the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, where we actually got to test our bravery and walk over the ocean on a rope bridge to a separate island! Once again, Northern Ireland proved to be absolutely breathtaking in its views of the ocean and its landscapes.

Carrick-A-Rede Ropebridge

After a quick lunch, we went to Giant’s Causeway, which was actually featured in one of the Harry Potter movies! Giant’s Causeway, as we learned in my Environmental Earth Science class, is the result of magma that erupted from a volcano cooling extremely quickly at the earth’s surface. Because of the chemical composition of the rocks, they cooled in hexagonal columns that look kind of like honeycombs. They were very cool to walk on, and again, an amazing place to take pictures!

Champlain Abroad Dublin visiting the Giant’s Causeway

Our group’s final stop was Dunluce Castle, where we got to walk through the remains of a medieval castle situated on the ocean. In fact, it’s so close to the ocean that one night, while there was a feast in the main hall, the kitchen actually fell off into the water!
After a busy weekend, most of our group were happy to be back on the bus and headed back to our apartments in Dublin. But tired as we were, we were also grateful that we got this amazing opportunity to see the beautiful land of Northern Ireland!



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