Colourful sunset at the Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland
Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
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Ulster, where ancient legends rise from the sea

Northern Ireland Vacations

From a political past emerges a modern gem with a warm citizenry

Northern Ireland (Norn Iron to locals) is the northern portion of the Emerald Isle, accounting for just under a fifth of the landmass of the island. It’s a part of the United Kingdom, made up of six counties, and shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland.

Northern Ireland is sometimes defined by the violence of the past and the period of ‘The Troubles’. Differences between groups in Ireland emerged with those wanting to remain a part of the UK, and those who wanted independence from Crown rule. The Republic of Ireland split and is now a sovereign nation, but Northern Ireland has remained, and that community itself is historically split between Protestants and Catholics. It’s these two groups who have been at odds. 

But the dark days of this 35-year conflict have all but disappeared, with Belfast and the nation emerging to a more forward-thinking and peaceful era. The political and sectarian battles of the past have morphed into efforts toward a more unified and inclusive future. It is possible to take a tour of Belfast to learn about ‘The Troubles’. Keeping the history alive serves to protect from repeating the past.

In fact, a new Belfast has emerged in recent decades – some say the capital city, representative of the nation, has seen a renaissance. The peace process and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 marked a new point for Northern Ireland and allowed citizens to focus on the future instead of the past. Since then there has been significant investment in infrastructure and tourism. 

The Titanic Museum was built as a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage and pride. The museum sits on the shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built. It relates the stories of the state-of-the-art yet ill-fated ship that hit an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage in 1912. 

The Cathedral Quarter  promotes the thriving art scene in Belfast with galleries, theatres, and street artists expressing the spirit of Northern Ireland in real time. The Metropolitan Arts Centre and the Lyric Theatre are significant cultural venues.

Boxing, golf, and rugby are popular sports and the food scene is exciting– don’t miss out on this world class city, representing the nation, a shining emerald in the cold North Atlantic.

At a Glance
LanguagesIrish, Ulster-Scots
CurrencyBritish Pound (GBP)
Places To Go

Handcrafted Journeys to our Most Popular Places in Northern Irelands.

Panorama of Belfast River Lagan Waterfront Cityscape and Lagan Bridge at Sunset Twilight
 Illuminated Peace bridge in Derry Londonderry, City of Culture
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Mystical legends and natural wonders await you

Get the flavour of Northern Ireland experience by visiting historical sites like Navan Fort, an ancient ceremonial site in County Armagh. The former pagan ceremonial site is associated with Irish tales of the Ulster Cycle, a series of stories about mythical (and potentially historical) battles and allegiances.

Or explore Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in Britain with freshwater eels, or Carrickfergus Castle, a Norman castle on the northern shore of Belfast Lough, a well preserved castle that withstood attacks from the Scots, Irish, English and French over 800 years – fine examples of the resiliency and spirit of the Ulsters.

Herd of sheep, with rugged coast in background at sunset, along County Antrim coast, Northern Ireland

The Culture

Northern Ireland is a place where people feel connected to but separate from both the rest of Ireland, and the UK. The Northern Irish are a proud people, aware of their political past with an eye on the future. While much of the culture revolves around its Roman Catholic and Protestant roots and lots of people still attend church weekly, those numbers are in decline. Northern Ireland flies the Union Jack officially, as it’s a part of the UK, but the unofficial flag remains the Ulster Banner. It features a white background, red cross, a white star representing the six counties of Northern Ireland, with a crown above and a red hand within. Its design is based on the traditional coat of arms of Ulster, a region of nine counties, six of which make up Northern Ireland, and the other three are on the other side of the border in the Republic of Ireland. The country has rich soil and produces quality farmland for fine agricultural output. Fully 75% of the land in the country is used for agriculture. Meat, dairy, and eggs constitute 80% of its output.  but since the industrial revolution there has been a steady movement to the cities for industrial work. Kingspan Stadium, in Belfast is the place to see Ulster Rugby play – one of four professional rugby teams in Ireland. The Down County Museum in Downpatrick was once a Georgian jail used as a final staging post for convicts bound for Australia. Here, take a journey through 9000 years of history through a permanent exhibition called “Down Through Time’.  Make sure to see some history through the gates of Enniskillen Castle in County Fermanagh. The castle was built in the 15th century and converted to a barracks to house the North Irish Horse mounted  troops until it was finally turned to the local community and made into a cultural and heritage centre. The castle was an important structure in Irish rebellion battles against the English and now houses historical items like uniforms, medals, flags, regimental regalia, weapons, and other military memorabilia. Portrush and Portstewart are small seaside resort towns in County Antrim. Sandy beaches and the Royal Portrush Golf Club, which once held the Open Championship are nearby features. Explore the peninsula of Portrush, the medieval and now ruined Dunluce Castle, and go for a stroll on the beach at Whiterocks. Some well known people from Northern Ireland include C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, golfer Rory McIlroy, musician Van Morrison, and the actor Liam Neeson.
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