BELFAST, ARMAGH, LONDONDERRY...continued

From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil Richard Lovett

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The Giant's Causeway, the favourite trip from Belfast, will be dealt with in the next chapter. A main line of rail runs to Londonderry, passing some famous and some very pretty places. At Antrim there is a noted Round Tower, very perfect and standing in a beautiful park. Antrim Castle, near to the town, is one of the many celebrated Irish residences. It is the seat of Lord Massarene, and is situated in very lovely country. In fact, for quiet rural beauty County Antrim can take high rank. About three miles from Antrim, on the shores of Lough Neagh, stand the remains of Shane O'Neil's Castle, for ages the seat of that powerful family, and still the home of their descendants. Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the United Kingdom, being twenty miles long, twelve wide, eighty in circumference, and embracing nearly 100,000 acres. The Bann, which runs into the Atlantic through Coleraine, is the only outlet for its waters. From the picturesque point of view, the absence of mountain scenery places it at a great disadvantage when compared with many others in Ireland.

Antrim Castle
Antrim Castle

Further north still is Ballymena, a thriving town, and an important centre of the linen trade. It is the best point from which to approach classic ground in Irish story. Only three miles distant is Broughshane, inseparably linked with St. Patrick's history; three miles further is the hill of Slemish, where Patrick lived as a slave, and where he saw those visions and dreamed those dreams which God afterwards enabled him to put into action for the benefit and blessing of the Irish nation.

On reaching Coleraine we have passed into the county of Derry, in which this town holds second rank. It is prettily situated upon the Bann, and is noted for linens, for whisky, and for salmon fishery. There is a noted salmon leap about a mile above the town, the road to it along the west bank forming a very pleasant walk. Much of the land in and about the town belongs to the Irish Society. The fishery is no doubt very profitable, but one cannot help feeling that were the salmon leap swept away and the navigation of Lough Neagh made available by improving the course of the Bann, it might in the end be better for the country at large.

The next place beyond Coleraine is Castlerock, a delightful watering place. It possesses a beautiful sandy beach upon which the great Atlantic rollers break in a way that affords ceaseless enjoyment to the eye and the ear. On either hand superb views are obtained; to the east, over Port Stewart and the Giant's Causeway; to the west, over Inishowen and the Donegal coast around the head of Lough Foyle. It is deservedly a popular and a favourite summer resort. There are very good drives in the neighbourhood; and traces in the way of buildings and traditions survive of the eccentric--to put it mildly--Earl of Bristol, whom the public opinion of the last century tolerated in the See of Derry.

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