Monday, June 24, 2019

June 22, 2019,        Belfast, United Kingdom            162/183

Cloudy at first, mid 60s F. with the sun coming out to make for a nice day.  Had been raining for weeks in this area!

Moored in a working port about 2 miles from town.  Our excursion today includes the Giant's Causeway.

More revelations about English domination, augmented by brutal conduct, came to light on our tour today.  Rathlin Island, Ireland, has been the site of several massacres perpetrated by Englishmen, including one orchestrated by Sir Francis Drake.  An excerpt of this history follows:

"Rathlin Island has been the site of a number of massacres. On an expedition in 1557, Sir Henry Sidney devastated the island. In July 1575, the Earl of Essex sent Francis Drake and John Norreys to confront Scottish refugees on the island, and in the ensuing massacre, hundreds of men, women and children of Clan MacDonnell were killed.  Also in 1642, Covenanter Campbell soldiers of the Argyll's Foot were encouraged by their commanding officer Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck to kill the local Catholic MacDonalds, near relatives of their arch clan enemy in the Scottish Highlands Clan MacDonald. They threw scores of MacDonald women over cliffs to their deaths on rocks below. The number of victims of this massacre has been put as low as one hundred and as high as three thousand."

England further dominated Ireland in the early 1600s by brutally hunting down and killing the residents to access their huge oak forests.  Some residents survived by retreating to the hills.  Their navy and merchant fleets were built from this timber, giving the English a significant advantage in naval operations.  Only 5.8% of Ireland is forested now, 0.8% being oak stands.

These waters have seen invading Normands, Vikings in long boats, raiding pirates and many others.

Much of the Spanish Armada was wrecked on the shores of Western Ireland in 1588, on rocks identified by our guide.  One can imagine being there, watching the devastation in real time!

Adrian, our guide, related interesting stories for many hours on our tour.  He told of WWII episodes of numerous planes crashing and the pilots being arrested as Ireland was neutral in that war. Northern Ireland was under British rule, so military operations were conducted from there.  100,000 were killed in the Battles of the North Atlantic, including 20,000 Canadian sailors and merchant marine who were defending the convoys to England.  German U-boats were often spotted patrolling the waters off Ireland, laying in wait.
72 German U-boats were moored in Londonderry after being ordered to surrender. They were stripped and scuttled off the Irish coast.

Interesting tidbit - William McCarthy's parents emigrated to USA from here. (Billy the Kid)

Irish whiskey production was a major topic for our guide, as he spoke with pride.  Whiskey  (Bushmills and Jameson) is produced from air-dried barley with three presses. Then it is aged in bourbon barrels imported from America.  He discussed Scottish whiskey very disparagingly as he feels they produce an inferior product.  Reasoning is that they accelerate the barley drying process using peat which imparts a smokey flavour on their whiskey.  I must remember this!

Even though the Titanic was built in Belfast, it never used this port for passenger service.

We drove by the site of the upcoming Irish Open where millions is being spent to prepare the course.  
Woods and the gang will be here, for what should be a challenge with the tough course and weather 

Moored in Belfast

More harbour view

More harbour

Many views from our drive up the coast toward the Giant Causeway

School house from the 1800s

Abandoned castle from 1400s

Remnants of an old castle destroyed by the English to deter future development of the area

Memorial to Marconi, as he tested radio wave propagation from the mainland to an island here.  Tesla really invented radio wave transmission but Marconi was quicker at solidifying recognition.

Rathline Island, site of several massacres

Fabled giant from "Gulliver's Travels".  Can you see the face?

Where the Irish Sea meets the Atlantic.

Irish countryside

Coastal vista

Beautiful coastal vistas

Irish Open preparations

Looks like a tough course.

Irish farmer wedding procession

Giants Causeway

I felt is was better to include a professional explanation of this geological phenominum, to mute the potential smirking.....

"Around 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene Epoch, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillar like structures, which are also fractured horizontally into "biscuits". In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called "ball and socket" joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleocene."

40,000 basalt columns make up this collection

Formation extends for about 2 miles

Emma will understand this geological formation.

Crystalline structure

Little windy, do you think?

Charming church

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