Sunday, June 16, 2013
It is unfortunate the western media villainesses Northern Ireland as some sort of Beirut war zone. The truth is that while there has been sectarian violence over the past 40 years, the overall crime and murder rates fall well below the national averages of most cities in the States
Northern Ireland or Ulster, comprises of 6 counties. Today, it’s primarily a self governing region within the confines of the United Kingdom. The British army presence on the streets is long gone and so too are the militarized border check points. The only signs of sectarianism are the murals in the working class neighborhoods.
There is an overall sense of optimism today for the future, as many multinational corporations have invested and staked the province with new urban shopping developments and high tech industries all geared towards the highly skilled and educated work force.
Tourism is a growing industry with world class attractions as the Antrim Coast drive, The Giant's Causeway (world heritage site), Dunluce Castle, Titanic Museum, Ulster Folk Park and slews of well maintained National Trusts sites as Carrickfergus Castle, Penrhyn Castle, Mount Stewart and many Neolithic stone structures comparable to Stone Henge in England.
Alas Northern Ireland has possibly the most genuine, sincere and friendly folk’s one will ever meet any where.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
The Ards Peninsula is situated in the North East corner of Ireland in between the Irish Sea and Strangford Lough. The Peninsula is a microscopic version of the rest of Ireland featuring all the history, landscape and folklore Ireland is renowned for without the hordes of tourists.
This is the land where St Patrick first came ashore on his way to converting the pagans to Christianity and would be later followed by the conquering Normans.
Today the landscape is dotted with colorful villages, fishing ports, cool pubs and beach towns set among a rolling majestic green landscape dotted with sheep, horses and cattle alike.
The mild year round weather lends to a vast agricultural industry and many's a small palm tree graces The Ards topaz blue shoreline. The air has a uniquely clean, fresh Irish scent about it; as a mixture of salt spray, green turf and the wild pollen's of purple heather, yellow buttercups and golden wind bushes. Off in the distance one can hear the sheep and cattle.
The largest towns on the Ards are Bangor and Newtonards, both of which offer a lively pub culture set among historical down-towns. Popular beach destinations include Donaghadee, Cloughey and Groomsport. Portaferry, Kircubbin and Portavogie are traditional little farming and fishing towns offering the freshest of seafood at any one of their fine traditional pubs. From Kircubbin there is also a majestic view of the Mourne Mountains as they tower over and grace the opposite side of the Strangford Lough.
Alas The Ards Peninsula is a truly unspoiled and friendly reprieve from today's otherwise hectic world.