Irish Natural Pearls

Irish streams and rivers provided many fine pearls. It is a fact, for many generations, the River Struel, which flows from Omagh to Newtownstewart, was noted for its pearls. The pearl industry centred around Omagh and the district has supplied many fine specimens. Although nature conspires against all but the very observant.  The shellfish shows...

Helen’s Bay Railway Station

Helen’s Bay Railway Station (1971) Photo © The Carlisle Kid (cc-by-sa/2.0) The trains still stop at the little railway station at Helen’s Bay, one of the most fantastic railway stations in the U.K. This splendid Victorian railway station was built to the specifications of Frederick, First Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, in 1863, for his private use, ...

Stories from the Grave

There is something macabre in stories of graves and graveyards. Death customs such as stopping the clocks and covering up the mirrors when someone dies in the house; also the placing of a dish of salt in the proximity of the dead.  All these things and the carrying out of the corpse feet first and...

Ghostly Apparitions

GHOSTLY APPARITIONS Ulster has its quota of stories that tell of spirits that come back to keep a tryst, to give a warning, or perhaps to visit the scene of a long-forgotten tragedy. Traditionally, Halloween is the time when restless spirits are abroad – a time when a benighted pedestrian, hurrying along an unfrequented country...

Annie’s Grave

If you look close enough at an ordinance map of the Lecale district in County Down you will note a crossroads where the townlands of Coniamstown – Whigamatown and Bright converge, it is called Annie’s Grave.   ANNIE’S GRAVE A very ordinary-looking crossroads, nothing to mark it out on the spot. Turn off on the way...

The Highest Railway In Ireland

The cuttings, embankment, and bridges of the old narrow-gauge railway from Ballymena to Retreat Station are still visible reminders of an unusual if unprofitable service. It was called the Ballymena, Cushendall and Red Bay Railway (BCRR) and it was the first narrow-gauge railway to be authorised by Parliament.  It was opened firstly for goods from...

World War II Relics

In the large beautiful landscaped gardens of Tubber House, Kircubbin up till a few years ago an underground World War II bunker was to be found. It was named ‘THE WAR HOUSE’, the former sector operations room which controlled Ballyhalbert airfield. This top-secret location was one of the most significant buildings in Northern Ireland. The...

Strangford Lough

Twice every day 400 million tons of water rushes up the Strangford lough through the deep seething strait, and down again into the Irish Sea. When the wind is in the east and the tide is ebbing, the bar is a very dangerous place. Here the tide runs at 6 miles an hour with the...

The Seal Colony on the Cloghy Rocks

The road from Strangford to Ardglass is a beguiling one with changing views around every corner. Just a short distance from the town on the right amongst the trees is the ruined mansion of Isle o Valla. Here in early spring, you can watch the herons at their nests. This heronry was in occupation before 1892...

The Peace Maze

A peace maze in Castlewellan Forest Park has made it into the Guinness Book of Records 2004. It is now recognised as being both the largest and the longest permanent hedge [6,000 yew trees] maze in the world covering 2.7 acres and 3.5 km of paths. The construction and planning of the maze in Castlewellan...