The Glens of Antrim are definitely worth a visit, but..

The Observer’s Belfast-born Ireland editor Henry McDonald, moonlighting on the Guardian’s Travelog, points out some highights for prospective visitors to Northern Ireland following the Lonely Planet’s free advertisement praise, and other recent mentions. He also points out some places to avoid…From the Guardian’s Travelog

Outside Belfast, though, options for tourists are limited. The Glens of Antrim are definitely worth a visit, particularly the Glenariffe waterfall and Cushdendun. The latter is a quaint little seaside village with a view of Scotland on a clear day. Homages to the Mountains of Mourne from songsters such as Percy French are not exaggerated. The landscape of south Down is stunning, as are the Fermanagh Lakes and their main town, Enniskillen, one of the livelier and more interesting rural centres of Northern Ireland with a thriving nightlife.

Places to avoid include almost all of Co Tyrone, which has so many non-descript, grim one-horse towns you can hear the collective hooves clop from across the border in Donegal. I have found next to nothing to see or visit in that county. Ditto for most of Co Derry, although Derry (or Londonderry, depending on which side you take in the ongoing naming dispute) is a place on the up.

Disclosure: as a resident in one of those Counties I would say that.. he’s not entirely wrong..

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  • joeCanuck

    well, he’s entitled to his opinion but I notice that he said to avoid “almost all” of those counties.
    Both counties have wonderful places to visit but how does he propose to get to those places? Teleportation?

  • Get out more Mr. McDonald, the Ards Peninsula has one of the biggest girly draws in the six counties of the province: Mt. Stewart.

    Christ, there’s many a day I’ve wandered with that characteristic thousand meter stare (hits me in boutiques, too) behind Mrs. Smilin’ Jim as the she oohed and aahhed over the foliage and posies, taking god knows how many reflection shots of the feckin ducks and geese in that pond. Coffee’s OK, though.

    The place has everything: Yer old woman can stalk the petunias and the menfolk can tour the museum with the relics of unionism on display, a place for loving or loathing al carte. What’s not to like?

    The Quays, the little restaurant that opened up in Portavogie is a find as well. One does not have to beat feet down to Portaferry to get hammered in public, oh happy day. The graffiti on the docks has to go, though

    As to the rest of the piece, it’s much better than what you might expect from someone from Belfast, it’s not a mirror of a New Yorker’s attitudes toward the rest of the country (Well, there’s Brooklyn and then in the distance you can see LA). He did also say some nicely appropriate things about Derry and his remarks vis-a-vis hospitality are spot on, irony included.

    I confess, though, that I have absolutely no love for Enniskillen. Mr. and Mrs. Smilin Jim are in a very rare accordance here. It must be a dreary steeple thing.

  • ben

    May I be the first to trot out the hoary observation that the Giant’s Causeway is “worth seeing, but not worth going to see”?

  • Crataegus

    One of the places worth avoiding is Lough Neagh. Its there but underused. We have some bizarre planning constraints that ensure that visitors have nothing to do. There are many places of interest but many are less than inviting. We really need to get our act in order.

    Enniskillen is a great place but who on earth designed the road layout? Utter disgrace, it separates the town off from the lake and effectively closes down many potential opportunities for interesting development. Inappropriate roads are a common feature in NI. What possessed someone to run a road between the Castle at Carrickfergus and the town or use the Cathedral in Downpatrick as a round about? In historic towns you need to maintain the context and interrelationship of buildings. The English seem to do a reasonable job in say the cathedral towns like York or Wells or places like Bath.

    If we are going to increase tourist numbers we are going to need the infrastructure and better public transport and better use of key attractions. We need to sharpen up and enable and encourage appropriate development.

    Ben

    The Gaint’s Causeway or rather the area around it is well worth going to see, the Causeway itself really typifies what is wrong in NI. Very poor (to be improved) facilities for tourists, lack of accommodation, lack of holiday lets, and the lower path along the cliffs beyond the Causeway, which is of MAJOR educational interest closed by the National Trust.

  • Crataegus

    Smilin

    Agree Mount Stewart has one of the best gardens in the British Isles well worth a visit.

  • Cahal

    The Roe Valley, Magilligan point, Benone strand.

  • moochin photoman

    A good way to see NI is to buy a book on prehistoric Ireland and go hunt for Dolmans and the like. Hours of fun trying to find some of them and you get to see some gorgeous scenary whilst you are at it.
    One of the greatest ironies of the John Hewitt is that it is run by the Belfast Unemployed Centre,alchohol being the biggest scourge of the unemployed. That said Its a great bar for sure. The Oak Bar at the Errigle Inn is also another fine pub with no tv or music blaring out.

  • Holt

    On a recent visit to a pub/restuarant outside Bushmills, four of us had several rounds of drinks when at about 10.30 our collective supply of sterling ran out. We had visa, mastercard, euro – everything but sterling. While the restuarant took visa etc, the bar wouldn’t; euro were out altogether. Reception wouldn’t give us cash on the visa.

    We weren’t noisy or unruly, just sterlingless.

    Can you imagine that happening in Kerry, and I remember hearing about northern business acumen

  • oceallaigh2006

    The N.I, tourist board isnt serious about attracting more visitors to the North West of Ireland as I found out for myself recently.I travelled to Northern Ireland and offered to set up a comprehensive web site listing all the B ‘n B ,small hotels and places of local interest as well as personally bring tours from all over North America and Canada using my extensive contacts in the tour industry.I submitted my proposal to the board and was politely told they were not interested .So now you know why there isnt much tourism outside of the Belfast area .

  • aquifer

    The car ferry between Portaferry and Strangford is a scenic sea cruise for cheap. The National Trust big houses are remarkable, and have great walks in the gardens if you are allergic to past privilege. Florencecourt and Castlecoole in Fermanagh, Springhill and the Argory are all good. The Folk and Transport museum is worth a long look too. Belfast not having a full-on maritime museum is just weird. Begrudgery begets self-flagellation. The tourist board always seemed at a loss. Trying to get risk averse rich golfers when young adventurers might have come. Investing for our short season might suggest camping, caravanning, and yachting, or more high quality self-catering for rent could ease the pressure for building or buying second homes. Maybe we should spread our festivals over the year and discount tickets for the visiting easyjetters.

  • DK

    City walls of Derry are excellent – there are very few city walls that you can walk round. I even got to see some spides trying to break into a house. They threw stones at me, but my elevation and protection defeated them. Made me think of how useful the walls were during the siege of olde Londonderrie.

    Also the museum is top notch too.

  • chauncy

    For the kids: Travelled from Cork to (Dublin to) Belfast last Easter with our kids to W5 – they loved it! Would have liked to have stayed over, fond memories of early nineties trips to Ballycastle, Carrickarede (?), and Derry. In-laws from Dublin went boating in Fermanagh recently and loved it…Some day…

  • Cahal

    oceallaigh2006

    Did you use the phrase “all over North America and Canada” in your proposal.

    :-}

  • kay mckenna

    Having vacationed in Ireland in 2004 with 6 women, mid-50’s, to show them “my Ireland” they all agreed they much preferred their time in the north of Ireland. Their trip around the Antrim Coast staying at Collier’s Hall in Ballycastle, the night we all walked home at 2am from a great sing-song in the Ballycastle bar is still talked about – where else (in the world) would a group of women feel so safe. Mr McGarry from Moyle District who made them so welcome in the Glens of Antrim. Bushmills Distillery Tour, Beleek China Factory – not to be missed, Derry Walls – 3 of the women were history teachers so this was of great interest. They also enjoyed a tour of Belfast City Hall and met the mayor who was most gracious and had an enjoyable time at Belfast Castle. One week was just too short but they look forward to returning. Come on people of Belfast, encourage your family to return to visit one of the most beautiful places in our little planet!

  • PubMan

    Come on people of Belfast, encourage your family to return to visit one of the most beautiful places in our little planet!

    Can we encourage them to get us real jobs over serving food to people like you in restaurants? You show them around and encourage them to gawk at us. Can we not have proper jobs?

    Our lives aren’t a feckin theme park.

  • oceallaigh

    oceallaigh2006

    Did you use the phrase “all over North America and Canada” in your proposal.

    :-}

    Posted by Cahal on Nov 17, 2006 @ 12:09 AM
    ACTUALLY NO CAHAL BUT I DID USE THE TERMS DERRY AND IRELAND’S NORTH WEST ,MAYBE THAT’S WHERE I WENT WRONG.

  • Reader

    ben: May I be the first to trot out the hoary observation that the Giant’s Causeway is “worth seeing, but not worth going to see”?
    Not really true since the invention of the aeroplane and motor-car.

  • joeCanuck

    ben: May I be the first to trot out the hoary observation that the Giant’s Causeway is “worth seeing, but not worth going to see”?

    Nonsense; take the Antrim Coast road and drop in at Dunluce Castle too.

  • marty

    Come on people of Belfast, encourage your family to return to visit one of the most beautiful places in our little planet!

    You must be joking – i’m kicking myself i didn’t get out of this backwards dump when i had the chance.

  • Simon

    There’s some lovely places to visit in Northern Ireland especially along the North coast (Mussenden Temple in the Downhill estate is stunning).

    But customer service is shockingly bad here. If there’s going to be more tourists visiting, there’s going to be a lot more complaints from visitors about the lack of professional customer service.

  • nmc

    Nonsense; take the Antrim Coast road and drop in at Dunluce Castle too.

    Go from Larne, and stop in the nine glens and the Causeway. Glenarm has a pretty big forest park, and the castle. Then Carnlough taking in Garron Point. Glenarriffe – another good forest park, then Cushendall and Cushendun. Finally on up to the Causeway stopping at Dunluce and Carrick a Rede rope bridge.

    Done that trip about a dozen times, whenever a foreign relative is passing through NI. It’s always worth while.

  • Crataegus

    What NI needs is more accommodation of all grades for tourists, and with increasing numbers hopefully there will be increases in the number of Restaurants, shops and other tourist related activity. However two major blocks in the system the first is the Planning Service and the second is the Tourist Board, both really do need to sharpen up. Also ease of transport and transport links are important to tourists. If you imagine landing in any of our Airports for the first time and want to get to any destination how helpful is the information at hand? How good is the transport provision?

  • CaveCanem

    During the World Cup on a Saturday evening, I saw numerous tourists wandering around the city centre of Derry, repeatedly consulting their maps and then looking around in confusion at all the shuttered-up premises.
    Beforehand, in a pub, a group of eight Americans came in and ordered two Guinness between them.
    Although the Irish pub is a huge part of why people come here, not everyone else in the world is so predisposed to this sort of drinking culture.
    Which also begs the question, if we do move into the arena of cafe culture – although I would quite like to go somewhere and drink a coffee after 5pm – will locals help sustain such a ‘cosmopolitan’ industry once the tourists go home?
    Also, while Derry is a fantastic place to visit, there is a lot more that needs to be done.
    Without a car to explore Donegal, my friend from the states was done and dusted in a day or so.

  • Alan

    I once had the misfortune to be waylaid by a group of golfers. My misfortune being that I neither play nor can I feign interest in the sport.

    However, one interesting nugget chanced from that meeting, namely, that NI is the only place in the world where you could conceivably play two “Royal” courses on the one day. They thought it a wonderful theme on which to build local tourism. I thought so too, but was soon able to escape.

  • Nestor Makhno

    I have to agree with CaveCanem – the emphasis on pubs and drinking does not go down well with most American tourists.

    On the whole, the middle class, middle aged couples (our main US tourist demographic) do not drink much and pubs are really only a novelty for them to be visited once or twice. You can’t build an entire industry around this.

    Mooching Photoman has an great idea. Encourage visitors to buy a copy of Julian Cope’s ‘The Modern Antiquarian’ and send them off to visit the hundreds of neolithic(?) earthworks across the island. Some fantastic stuff out there – a lot in the north. And Cope’s book (former lead singer from The Teardrop Explodes) is a brilliant resource.

  • dodrade

    There have been a lot of bad things said about Strabane, and believe me they’re all true.

  • joeCanuck

    Do you live there dodrade?

  • Geoff Wallis

    Well, as the co-author of The Rough Guide to Ireland I sympathise with many of the comments submitted above. Here are a few of my own, incorporating some of the above listers’ postings.

    1) Actually the Northern Ireland Tourist Board does a tremendous job in producing information about Northern Ireland. Its efforts include detailed booklets on all manner of accommodation, places to eat and its extremely useful publication on where to visit (a comprehensive listing of all the main and minor sites with details of opening times and admission prices). You can find details of its activities, including visitor ‘activity reports’ at http://www.nitb.com/. However, you have to head to http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/ for a full list of those publications.

    However, the problem is, from experience, that the majority of visitors to NI do not arrive with a set itinerary in mind (unless they’ve come for an activities holiday of some kind). So, to obtain guidance, their first port of call will be a local tourist office. Now some of these are hugely helpful, but others are poorly sited (Derry and Enniskillen spring immediately to mind) and yet more are staffed by seeming jobsworths. From personal experience (and most of these are local council-funded offices) the most helpful are in Ballycastle, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Derry, Enniskillen, Portaferry and Portrush.

    2) From my long and detailed experience accommodation in NI is generally of a far higher standard than in both the Republic and, say the Northwest of England. Prices, especially B&Bs in rural areas, are also lower. However, while there are plenty of places to stay, especially in Belfast and Derry, at the upper end of the price scale, there’s a shortage of reasonably priced B&Bs within kicking distance of those city centres.

    3) Citizens of the USA do not constitute the greatest number of visitors to NI, far from it. Most of NI’s tourist holidaymakers come from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Europe (the last-named often taking an anticlockwise tour of Ireland from Larne).

    4) Public transport in NI is far better than the Republic, but this has little consequence for tourism since the majority of visitors rent a car. There are regular bus services to Belfast’s centre from both the International and City airports, though the service from Derry airport might be improved.

    One can dwell so much on minutiae, but my own gut feeling is that the NITB has a misguided strategy that leans far too heavily towards the good burghers of Belfast and Derry.

    Yep, the Antrim coast road and the blessed Causeway gets their plaudits, but far too little attention is paid to the delights of, in no particular order:

    a) The Sperrins;
    b) the tremendous beaches all the way west from Portstewart to Magilligan Point;
    c) the Ring of Gullion;
    d) Strangford Lough;
    e) the Mournes;
    f) Armagh city – and this one particularly bugs me since, if Armagh had happened to be in France it would be lauded for its layout, architecture and museums.

  • “does not go down well with most American tourists.”

    Thanks be to God. More venom to follow ….

    “I once had the misfortune to be waylaid by a group of golfers.”

    Six years ago we were having a late lunch in Newcastle after a soaking day walking in the Mournes. There was a group of NI executives from an Anglo/American multinational seated next to us. They were typically bitching about their management, “there’s the right way, the wrong way, the English way and then the American way”, etc.

    It’s really cool to be a fly on the wall when the locals rag the Yanks, you see how well you’re appreciated. Evidently we were dressed adequately in locally soaked woolens to be ignored or they were too focused on debating which orifice their management had their heads up to notice. It then went on to American spelling of color, tire, carburetor, jail and so forth. One of the lot was a sensible fellow (of course) and allowed that jail was a better phonetic fit than gaol.

    About that time a group of mid-Atlantic American golfers moved into the table next to them. I dislike the accent to begin with (we escaped back to the West to avoid having our kids pick it up) and these guys were rudely loud amd boisterous to boot. You could see the Nordies shut up and begin to simmer as soon as the rude Yank golfers sat down. Their withering exchanged looks just oozed feckin yank loudmouth bastards go home ye shower of hooers.

    I was REALLY enjoying the floor show even after I got The Look from Mrs. Smilin’ Jim followed by the repeated hammering on my shins under the table. I relented but just to further annoy the old woman I stopped by the table of glowering Nordies and whispered in my best West Coast Broadcast English into the closest one’s ear that:
    (1) In the Bay Area these jerks would be regarded as flaming jackasses as well; and
    (2) I agreed that jail was a better phonetic match than gaol.

    The lunch ….. maybe 5-6 Stg
    The guy’s look ……. priceless

  • dub

    public transport is far better in the north than in the republic!!!!!!!??????

    what planet does this person come from?????

    dart and luas, huge investment in railways, bus eireann network, dublin bus…

    my northern experience: buses that look still like they are part of a society at war… no train netork to speak of (it was all removed many years ago)… unspeakable state of railway stations…

    ulsterbus network good but that is same as bus eireann…

    as a taxi driver put it to me in derry… the republic is at least 30 years ahead…

    the REAL problem with the north with regard to tourism and having a good time in general is the complete deathliness of the place…

    compare buncrana and any small town of same size in derry or tyrone (and buncrana is by no means best of what donegal has to offer) and you will see what i mean…

    towns and villages and cities in the republic in general (there are exceptions of course) are lively and buzzing and prosperous… there is a sense of a people at ease with itself and facilities to match..

    all this is conspicously lacking in the north…

    try standing in derry city centre on a saturday night (or belfast city centre) at 8 pm and observe the complete dearth of people, life and open businesses, street life, restaurants with families inside…

    THERE IS NOTHING…

    when you get your heads around this you will solve the tourist problem and the problem of the north in general..that unless you like drinking it is an appalling place to go and that if you do like drinking the republic is a million times better…

    i am going to say one more thing which is very un pc but needs to be said…

    to my southern eyes the most conspicuous thing about the north is the apparent non existence of modern middle class people and culture…

    dublin for example has a vibrant working class and working class culture… it also has extremely vibrant middle class and middle class culture.. the north from what i have seen does not…

    to me this means that as a society it is functionally dead..

    and btw i am a regular visitor and really care about the place and like it…

  • Geoff Wallis

    Dub wrote:

    ‘public transport is far better in the north than in the republic!!!!!!!?????? what planet does this person come from????? dart and luas, huge investment in railways, bus eireann network, dublin bus…’

    A fair point and I should have clarified this. The transport network in Northern Ireland is almost comprehensive. It’s possible to get to virtually anywhere in the Six Counties from Belfast via bus or train (and I’m only referring to the summer months when services are at a peak) through reasonably regular timetabling. The same is decidedly not true about the Republic where there’s a plethora of private services and some very attractive places are simply off the bus map, even in high season.

    >my northern experience: buses that look still >like they are part of a society at war… no train >netork to speak of (it was all removed many years >ago)… unspeakable state of railway stations…

    Clearly, you haven’t been in Ireland for some years.

    >as a taxi driver put it to me in derry… the >republic is at least 30 years ahead…

    Meaning what exactly? Derry now has a far more vibrant cultural life than you might possibly imagine.

    >the REAL problem with the north with regard to >tourism and having a good time in general is the >complete deathliness of the place…

    Come on, it’s a small place whose towns were established as commercial centres, not as frug-a-go-bierkellers!

    >compare buncrana and any small town of same size >in derry or tyrone (and buncrana is by no means >best of what donegal has to offer) and you will >see what i mean…

    Whem were you last in Buncrana? The place is generally dead at night nowadays.

    >towns and villages and cities in the republic in >general (there are exceptions of course) are >lively and buzzing and prosperous… there is a >sense of a people at ease with itself and >facilities to match..

    >all this is conspicously lacking in the north…

    Please remove your green-tinted lenses and have a good look at what you’ve just written. Are Claremorris, Rosscommon town, Belturbet or New Ross genuinely buzzing? I think not.

    >try standing in derry city centre on a saturday >night (or belfast city centre) at 8 pm and >observe the complete dearth of people, life and >open businesses, street life, restaurants with >families inside… THERE IS NOTHING…

    Erm, when did you last visit Derry or Belfast at the weekend? 1953?

    >dublin for example has a vibrant working class >and working class culture… it also has extremely >vibrant middle class and middle class culture.. >the north from what i have seen does not… to me >this means that as a society it is functionally >dead..

    Jayz, I don’t know what you’ve been drinking, but I wouldn’t like to taste it. I can’t even begin to explore your ludicrous comments above within Mick’s bandwidth space.

  • Sean

    We have visited N Ireland three times is the past 10 years. Progress has been made, some marching season tensions, but generally it’s a safer, happier place than we saw during the troubles. No checkpoints, military presence and obvious signs of economic growth.

    My general observation is that people are doing alright and want political stability. Belfast taxi drivers could teach their London courterparts a lesson on courtesy, politeness, and honesty. “Fella you gave me too much money” yelled the taxidriver on the Falls Rd.

    Stopped in at Curley’s shopping complex in Andersonstown to buy Guinness in the off-licence. It was packed. The two male shop assistants were engaged in a personal conversation while customers waited. Every other word was F–k. Didn’t impress us; would never go back. Next door in Liddel the 18 year-old skinhead male cashier couldn’t say thank you. However, in general shopstaff were friendly and cheerful, which makes everyone feel welcome, epecially when having a “wee” cup-of-tea, or a “wee” scone.

    Went to the visitors’ Centre at Lough Neagh and felt it was disappointing, especially the food.
    We loved the Antrim coast,the Glens, Ballycastle and Portrush. On to the Portaferry aquarium and enjoyed the lectures from the resident marine biologist. In Portglenone we enjoyed watching some local youths catch 2 huge pike on the Bann in Portglenone. On to Enniskillen to Ballinamallard were we enjoyed watching the boating activities on the lakes and slept well in a great B&B.

    In Belfast we did the harbour cruise, looked at the Titanic area and had Irish stew lunch outside McHugh’s bar, whose staff deserve credit for their customer handling. Interesting, but more investment needed in the docks area to create any real interest for tourists, even though I enjoyed the tourboat captain’s historical recant on Harland and Wolff and the titanic.

    Belfast needs more late night cafes so that tourists can enjoy a coffee as well as, a pint of Guinness, some Irish music and craic.

    By far the biggest disgrace was Ireland’s most mismanaged and unkempt graveyard Milltown cemetary. All vistors should avoid this weed-ridden wasteland, unless binge drinkers and potbellied grave diggers is your interest.

    Real estate fever had gripped the place, with lamposts festooned with estate agents signs, their exaggerated descriptions of basic local houses is laughable, but prices skyrocket as the peace divident pays it dues.

    Belfast has potential, great shopping and witty people, let’s hope that political progress, equality and partnership policing can allow it to grow further. Slan

  • dub

    GEOFF WALLIS,

    I am 40 years old, have been going out with a girl in derry for last 3 years and was last out on a saturday night in derry 2 weeks ago…

    The point about Buncrana is that it is a busy and bustling small town… now go there geoff on a saturday afternoon and then go to say Limavady and you will see what i mean…

    Green tinted spectacles?? hardly. By the way I have spent every other week in Derry for the last 3 years as well… i know what i am talking about…

    And the reaction of every local to their frequent visits to Buncrana etc (wonder why they go there geoff??) is how much happier busier and more prosperous it is than where they live.. and as i say Buncrana is not exactly Nirvana..

    You pointed out places in Republic that are not buzzing: i agree and could add several more, i’ll add one: Frenchpark in Roscommon..

    But you will note that i said “in general” and that “of course there are exceptions”… the point is that in the north so far i have discovered NO exceptions to what i have said above…

    I will meet you at 8 o’clock in Derry city centre, lets say that cockpit of life, Guildhall Square at 8.OO pm this saturday.. are you up for that?? then we will see who is wearing the green tinted spectacles…

    bTW i am serious…

  • dub

    GEOFF,

    fyi the other weeks i live in dublin…

    whilst you are planning your trip to derry you might look at a railway map of ireland and see that in ulster there are almost no train lines left..

    and if you spend the night in derry then on sunday morning you should go down to foyle street and observe the delapidated state of vehicles that pass for “buses”…

    btw the taxi driver in question was not referring to culture but to difference in economy, infrastructure, amenities, people’s disposable income etc…

    perhaps before your trip to derry on saturday you might pop into Carrickmacross or somesuch earlier in the evening just so you can make direct comparisons…

  • Geoff Wallis

    Dear Dub,

    Your messages seem to assume that I have no knowledge of Ireland. You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. Indeed, I’ve probably travelled more extensively around the country than the entire population of the 32 counties.

    >The point about Buncrana is that it is a busy and >bustling small town… now go there geoff on a >saturday afternoon and then go to say Limavady >and you will see what i mean…

    I’ve visited Buncrana on many Saturday afternoons, so what? There’s not much happening there and there’s not much happening in Limavady on a Saturday afternoon either. Both have good bars, but beyond that there’s no real reason to linger.

    >Green tinted spectacles?? hardly. By the way I >have spent every other week in Derry for the last >3 years as well… i know what i am talking about…

    And I was in Derry just a month ago for the umpeenth time.

    >And the reaction of every local to their frequent >visits to Buncrana etc (wonder why they go there >geoff??) is how much happier busier and more >prosperous it is than where they live.. and as i >say Buncrana is not exactly Nirvana..

    I can’t comment on that one, but prosperity is never a word I’d use regarding Buncrana (take a look at the industrial estate near the Inishowen Gateway Hotel).

    >You pointed out places in Republic that are not >buzzing: i agree and could add several more, i’ll >add one: Frenchpark in Roscommon..

    Ah, no, Frenchpark’s just a little roadside stop, for pity’s sake. If it wasn’t for the Douglas Hyde connections, nobody would ever notice the place.

    >But you will note that i said “in general” and >that “of course there are exceptions”… the >point is that in the north so far i have >discovered NO exceptions to what i have said >above…

    Then you’ve obviously never spent a night in (and in no set order) Ballycastle, Cushendall, Portaferry, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Warrenpoint, Newry, Armagh or Portrush.

    >I will meet you at 8 o’clock in Derry city >centre, lets say that cockpit of life, Guildhall >Square at 8.OO pm this saturday.. are you up for >that?? then we will see who is wearing the green >tinted spectacles…

    You’ll have a long wait as I live in London.

    >whilst you are planning your trip to derry you >might look at a railway map of ireland and see >that in ulster there are almost no train lines >left..

    And you might consider your use of the term ‘Ulster’ and take a look at the railway map of the 26 counties and consider why there are all those signs up in the west of Ireland demanding that the old Sligo-Galway route be resurrected!

    >and if you spend the night in derry then on >sunday morning you should go down to foyle street >and observe the delapidated state of vehicles >that pass for “buses”…

    Yep, I’d agree with you on that one. Derry’s buses are real slapped for fags, but, of course, Translink has invested all the money in the sparkling Belfast Metro.

    >perhaps before your trip to derry on saturday you >might pop into Carrickmacross or somesuch earlier >in the evening just so you can make direct >comparisons…

    Are you serious? Carrickamacross? You’ll be recommending Castleblayney next!