In Northern Ireland, our island status means we have a wealth of little harbours to explore, and luckily, we’re never too far away from the seaside.
Have you ever wondered about the history of these seaside towns or perhaps what was there before the promenades were created?
We’ve discovered five quirky facts about Northern Ireland’s seaside towns to keep in mind during your next trip to the coast:
1. Ballycastle was a Viking settlement
Located in northeast Co Antrim, this area of outstanding natural beauty is surrounded by mountains, forests, lakes and of course, the sea, making it a popular destination for a family day out.
Fearsome settlers enjoyed the scenery long ago, setting up shop in Ballycastle and planting their harbour beside the road. A piece of the wall that the Vikings created can still be seen today, enclosing the courts of Ballycastle Tennis Club. Photo: Tourism NI Content Pool
2. The Portrush Rocks debate
Portrush National Nature Reserve holds the genesis of a very heated debate around the origin of rocks. This site holds a lot of historical importance due to its role in the development of geological science.
In 1799, ‘Portrush Rock’ was first discovered by Rev William Richardson. He claimed it was a ‘fossiliferous’ basalt and sparked a scientific debate that lasted for several decades. One party, known as Neptunists, thought the rocks were chemical precipitates from seawater. The other, known as Vulcanists, thought that igneous rocks owed their origin to the crystallisation, or solidification, of molten material. Today it is accepted that the rocks began as mudstone of the Jurassic age. Photo: Paul Lindsay @ Chris Hill Photographic / Tourism NI Content Pool
3. Ancient discoveries in Castlerock
Castlerock, five miles west of Coleraine, is thousands of years old. Early settlements in the area can be traced back to the Mesolithic period, around 6000-4000 BC. Many objects have been discovered in Castlerock’s sand and water, including ancient tools and remains in the nearby dunes of the lower river bann estuary and at Mountsandel Fort in Coleraine.
Next time you’re out for a walk near Mussenden Temple, keep an eye out, you never know what you might stumble upon. Photo: Dillon Osborne
4. Newcastle’s wild cats
Newcastle, County Down is settled at the feet of the Mourne Mountains, and a decade ago, a number of sheep were killed across multiple farms in the county. Many farmers reported that it was the work of a black panther. Sightings of big cats near the mountains have been reported in the region for some time, but we may never know what is lurking in the mountain range. Photo: Chris Hill @ Tourism Ireland