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7 Unusual Places to Visit in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a glorious place, steeped in history, myths and legends, there’s a lot to see and do on a visit there. Organising a trip takes a bit of planning but its well worth it as there’s so much to see, with extraordinary, inspirational locations paired to stunning coastlines and landscapes. Northern Ireland also offers visitors to its shores one of the warmest and friendliest of welcomes ever.

Below are 7 unusual places to visit in Northern Ireland that you should not miss out seeing.

Glorious Mount Stewart
The gardens of Mount Stewart are to say the least, quite spectacular. They were first planted in the 1920’s by Lady Londonderry and today boast being of International importance. The “outdoor” rooms house many rare plants all of which thrive tremendously well in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula. Tours are organised around the splendid house, home to works of art and lots of stories that tell of prominent political figures from the past whom the Londonderry family often played host to.

The views across the Strangford Lough are quite spectacular, especially from the Temple of the Winds that sits in the beautifully maintained grounds of the property. The historic house and gardens are open all year round and is definitely one place to put on a list of places to visit.

Grianan of Aileach
Situated in the west – Grianan of Aileach is a Stone Fort that sits quietly on a hilltop in Inishowen, County Donegal. The fort is 250 metres above sea level and it’s thought was originally built on an earthen rath. The views from the fort are quite stunning, looking out on to the waters of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly. The fort dates back to 1700 BC and is steeped in Celtic history. This is one part of Northern Ireland that’s not only boasts glorious landscapes but also lots of myths and legends involving the sleeping giants of Inishowen and its thought St Patrick was a visitor to the site during the 5th century and where he baptised the local chieftain.

McCloeys Cottage and Ossian’s Grave
McCloeys Cottage is another wonderful place to visit. This lovely 300 year old cottage has been fully restored to its former glory and is situated on an actual working farm. It’s there you’ll find Ossian’s “Giant’s Grave” and the memorial to John Hewitt, the poet. For those who love nature and in particular, bird watching, this is a superb location to spend a little time, the wildlife in the surrounding area and in particular birds, is supreme. The countryside is gorgeous and the pubs and restaurants extremely warm and welcoming in true Irish fashion.

The Beaghmore Stone Circles of Cookstown
The stone circles of Cookstown were first uncovered in the 1940’s when peat was being cut in the area. Beaghmore comprises of 7 stone circles all of which are thought to be associated with cairns with a stone row that runs in the direction of the cairns. Many people believe that Neolithic people occupied the area and cultivated it well before the burial cairns and ceremonial circles were erected – this amazing site is best seen at the crack of dawn or as the sun sets when the natural light plays some wonderful tricks on the stones.

The Silent Valley Reservoir, County Down
Built to catch water from the Mourne Mountains, The Silent Valley Reservoir is a wildlife paradise and area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Over 50,000 visitors a year descend on this glorious region of County Down every year which is hardly surprising. The valley is quite unique where a varied assortment of wildlife is left to its own devices to prosper and thrive. There’s a restaurant and an information centre which are housed in two lovely colonial style bungalows that overlook the parkland – well worth a visit.

Keaney, County Down
This delightful fishing village has been lovingly restored to its original state by the National Trust. Just east of Portaferry, the village offers splendid views across the waters to Scotland, the Isle of Man and the glorious Mountains of Mourne. Along the beautiful coastline a multitude of sea birds can be seen which includes elegant oystercatchers, rock pipits and many, many more all of which have made the area and coastline their breeding ground.

There are some splendid walks along the coast to places with extraordinary names like Stinking Point. The wildlife and natural beauty of the area is breath-taking and boasts some rather unusual plant life, including the yellow horned poppy.

Legananny Dolmen
Just 10 kilometres or so North West of Castlewellan, Legannay Dolmen is another superb place to visit. It’s steeped in myths and legends, and offers some spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. The long-legged tripod “giant’s grave” attracts people from far afield who descend on the region to enjoy the marvellous views of the Mourne Mountains. Legananny Dolmen has to be one of the most photographed megalithic monuments in the whole of Northern Ireland which is hardly surprising because it’s very, very impressive.

Conclusion
Northern Ireland is a lovely, lively land to visit. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome no matter where you go and there is so much to do and see. It’s a region that’s steeped in history, myths and legends where you really can step back in time to another era when things moved at a much slower, relaxing pace. A trip there is pure quality time.

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