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Holiday in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland tourist info by region
Belfast City | County Antrim | County Fermanagh | County Down

Northern Ireland - There is no reason for a visit to Ireland to exclude the six counties of Northern Ireland from your schedule. The people are as friendly, the sights as varied, and the activities on offer as diverse as those south of the border. The incredible Giant's Causeway on the coast of Antrim, the inspiring Mountains of Mourne in the south, and the watery west of Fermanagh are all within a days drive, and the capital, Belfast, is a thriving metropolitan city with all the amenities that go with that description. There are some gorgeous self-catering holiday cottages to rent in Northern Ireland - idyllic cottages in Antrim, luxury houses near Strangford Lough in County Down, vacation rentals in County Tyronne, Derry houses to rent, and country cottages with log fires in Fermanagh. Many of these cottages to rent welcome pets and some are suitable for wheelchair users. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has some excellent brochures on walking holidays, tracing your ancestors, and all types of accommodation (from simple self-catering houses, bed & breakfasts and luxury hotels).

In the northeast corner of the province is County Antrim, a mixture of industry and outstanding natural beauty. The linen mills of the Lagan valley define the southern part of the county and the commercial wealth that this created is seen in the architecture, especially in the city of Lisburn. The dramatic coastline, which reaches out towards Scotland only 12 miles away, is riddled with fishing villages, secluded bays, and long sandy beaches. As if this wasn't enough there is the natural marvel of the Giant's Causeway. Also on the coast are a number of outstanding golf courses if you are visiting on a golfing holiday, and at the mouth of the River Bush, the Bushmills Distillery.

County Down, in the southeast, is dominated by the wildlife centre of Strangford Lough, which attracts thousands of migrating birds every year - this is a very popular destination for bird-. The area between the Lough and the Mourne Mountains is known as Saint Patrick's country, as it was here that he landed in 432 AD, just to the east of Downpatrick. The Ards Peninsula has some of the most beautiful gardens in the whole island, at Mount Stewart, on the west side, and an endless line of beaches on the east. The town of Newcastle is renowned for its affiliation with the artist and songwriter, Percy French, and is a centre for those who want to walk through the nearby Mourne Mountains.

The republican reputation of County Armagh doesn't mean it should be dismissed from your itinerary as it has plenty of heritage associated with it, and consequently something to interest most people. The city of Armagh is the seat of both the Archbishops of Ireland, and is also the ancient power base of the O'Neill clan, the former Earls of Ulster. Portadown, on the other hand, has some lovely Georgian architecture, and the shores of Lough Neagh house an exhibition on the ecology of the largest lake in the British Isles.

County Tyrone is a mixture of the old world and the new. Ancient tombs collide with Irish-American theme parks, with both the family of Woodrow Wilson, and the Mellon's came from the county, and they have invested in a pair of exhibits to celebrate this. The town of Moy is a classic Plantation town and excellent antiques centre. The Sperrin Mountains, in the north of the county, offer much for the active with walks of varying difficulty and length.

If you are missing the water, County Fermanagh is awash with the stuff and one third of the county is under it. Most of this is in the 50-mile stretch of the twin lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne. The town of Enniskillen sits halfway along this waterway and is a centre for all boats that cruise the Loughs. In the southern corner of the county is an area with a warren of caves, whilst the north and west is covered with thousands of acres of forests.

Finally County Londonderry, or Derry, forms the northwestern segment of Northern Ireland. The coastline is less dramatic than neighbouring Antrim, but still has its charms and hidden beaches. The county is the home to the poet Seamus Heaney and this is celebrated with several displays of his works, whilst the 'mad, bad' 4th Earl of Bristol, and Bishop of Londonderry left his mark at Dowanhill. The city of Londonderry has a mile of the ancient city walls to walk along, and plenty of Protestant nostalgia to help you understand the reasons for the deep-seated differences between the two religious groups.

Irish tourist information

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