Northern Ireland (on cell phone): A Castle, an Overlook with a God, and an Introduction to Fly Fishing

[continued from my second to last post] Irishman and I met up the next morning for coffee before I was to head down to Armagh.  There was no real rush in getting there so Irishman offered to load my bags up in his car so he could take me on yet another site seeing venture!
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I love old ruins.  There’s something magical about them.  Maybe it’s my overactive imagination, but picturing what the place might have looked like, who was housed there, and the things that happened in and around them during their ‘lifetime’, always leaves me with a sense of wonder and awe.

Enter, Dunluce Castle.  Aside from it’s medieval history, the place was what I’d call “modern” (aside from the ruins).  The place offers views we’d pay millions of dollars for and more fireplaces than the Duggars have children.  It’s hard *not* to imagine what it would have been like living there; whether lord and lady or serf.

Dunluce:
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When Irishman and I finished roaming around Dunluce, we took a drive over to Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House; most famous for the Mussenden Temple which the “eccentric” Earl-Bishop had built for his cousin, Frideswide Mussenden.  Check out that wee bit ‘o scandal.

I have to be honest though: While the temple is cool, especially in it’s perilous placement on the cliff face, I was more in love with the gardens.  I may have a black thumb where plants are concerned, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of a flower or shrub.

Downhill:
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When I was younger, I used to be obsessed with all things mythological.  I still have the gigantic coffee table book I bought at a Barnes and Noble when I was 16.  The book is broken down by the more prominent mythologies:  Greek, Roman, Celtic, Hindu, and a cumulative Asian section.  My personal favorite is Celtic – I know, so shocking.

Manannán Mac Lir was/is a sea deity of the Tuatha Dé Danann and son of the sea-god, Lir.  He played many roles according to multiple legends: He was a trickster, a lover, a gate-keeper between the Otherworld (also known as Tír na nÓg), and many times a foster father.  

After leaving the eccentric Earl-Bishop’s place, Irishman and I made our way up a traditional Irish two-lane road (read: one lane with two-way traffic) to an overlook just outside Castlerock.  The pictures do it no justice, for that, I apologize.  At the very peak of the overlook is a sculpture of Manannán Mac Lir raising his arms to the skies as though calling down a storm.  As all tacky American’s must do, I jumped into the boat and posed with him.  There’s a default forgiveness for us…right?
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As if Irishman wasn’t already awesome, he drove me down to Armagh that same day to check into my hotel for the next day’s adventure.  [I’ll discuss the drive in the next post]
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I learned how to fly fish!  Northern Ireland’s a bit odd in their fishing license “ways”.  Apparently, it’s easier to belong to a fishing club as many of them have agreements with local families/farms to fish the rivers and streams that run through them.  Some locations are licensed by the town, others, the county.

My guide, Brian, picked me up from the hotel the next morning to drive about 45 minutes outside of Armagh for 6-hours of fishing for brown trout in a river.  Now, this isn’t my first rodeo where fishing is concerned, but I can honestly say I’ve never walked through sheep pasture to do it.  Being watched by a bunch of fluffy white animals, knowing with each little bleat they were talking about me, was a bit disconcerting.  I also had a hard time getting over just how cute the new little lambs were.
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Unfortunately/fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the fish weren’t running strong as the flies hadn’t really begun hatching yet.  Where some people might be upset that they caught six trout, “released one at a distance”, and caught numerous bits of Mother Nature (grass, trees, shrubs); I was like a giddy school girl when I finally hooked my first.  The trout are really small, so unlike salmon fishing, it’s hard to tell they are on the line unless you see the fly drop.

Either way – six fish was a total win for me when I only hoped to catch one.

Next post… Belfast!

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