Welcome to Northern Ireland
Once forming the ancient kingdom of Ulster, Northern Ireland has
been home to Gaelic kings, ancient Irish clans and seafaring
Vikings. It is the Land of St Patrick and the giant Finn McCool,
and is steeped in myths and legends of a mysterious and heroic
past. Its appeal encompasses beautiful scenery, historic forts and
castles and a rich legacy of Celtic Christianity, as well as the
Ulster people who are welcoming and genuine, with an impetuous
sense of humour. Another attraction is the small size of the
country - its sights are all within a short, scenic drive of each
other along mostly rural roads whose only traffic jams are caused
by flocks of sheep and cattle crossings.
To the south east lies some of Ireland's loveliest landscapes in
the Kingdoms of Down, an area recognised worldwide as an Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty - it combines miles of spectacular
coastline with fishing villages, seaside resorts, loughs, forests
and the Mountains of Mourne. To the north is the dramatic Antrim
coastline with its soaring cliffs, unblemished beaches and the
magnificent glacier-carved Glens of Antrim. Among the unusual rock
formations glimpsed from the coastal road, none is stranger or more
memorable than the famous Giant's Causeway, the legendary tourist
attraction that is fabled to be the highway built by giant Finn
McCool, to bring his lady love to Ulster from an island in the
Hebrides. This World Heritage Site is a mass of thousands of basalt
columns tightly packed together to form stepping stones leading
from the foot of the cliffs into the sea.
The gateway to the northwest is the historic walled city of
Londonderry, or Derry, a city that encompasses poets, storytellers,
music and festivals, and is a centre of culture and creativity.
Across the Sperrins is the city of Belfast, surrounded by hills and
a wealth of industrial sites, such as old linen and corn mills that
are a reminder of Northern Ireland's industrial heritage. Belfast
played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution and the
development of its manufacturing businesses quickly turned the
17th-century village into a robust metropolis that today is home to
a third of the country's population and some wonderful
With its green hills, rivers and lakes, mountains and
spectacular coastline, Northern Ireland is the perfect setting for
most outdoor activities, while in the towns and villages visitors
will undoubtedly be invited to join in the 'craic' or good fun,
centred on a traditional Irish music session and a pint or two of
the black stuff.
Information & Facts
Northern Ireland is cloudier and cooler than England, because of
the hilly nature of the terrain and the proximity to the Atlantic.
July is the warmest month with temperatures averaging around 64ºF
(18ºC). The highest temperatures occur inland and rainfall is more
frequent in the mountains of Sperrin, Antrim and Mourne, as is
English is the official language, though visitors will be
astonished by the variety of regional accents.
The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100
pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and
American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards
should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign
currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels,
however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks.
Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by
tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid
Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last
Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).