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  • Fiona

Day trips in and around Belfast

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

Alan’s sister and her husband (Anne and Alain) made it across to Belfast from Bradfield in the UK (when the travel restrictions were finally lifted) a week before we departed so we had a couple of ‘wee' road trips that week and took in some fabulous Irish countryside and coast around Belfast.

Strangford and Kearney

Alan and Anne are Kearney descendants (on their mother’s side) and so we drove out to the village of Kearney and spent some time wandering around the little settlement.

We drove to Strangford first - a wee town at one end of Strangford Lough where we went on a small walk through some woodland and then had lunch looking out over the lake while we waited for the ferry to Portaferry which was close to Kearney

Fun Fact 😁

The Strangford-Portaferry ferry service has linked Strangford and Portaferry, at the mouth of the Lough, without a break for almost four centuries. The alternative road journey is 47 miles (76 km) and takes about an hour and a half, while the ferry crosses the 0.6-nautical-mile (0.69 mi; 1.1 km) strait in 8 minutes.

In Kearney we wandered around the very picturesque village that has been restored by the National Trust to give the authenticity of a traditional fishing village; and then walked along the shoreline where on a clear day you can see Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Mountains of Mourne. The information boards told us that In the nineteenth century Kearney was a flourishing community, with fishing as the central occupation. Stories are told of a 'she-cruiser', crewed entirely by women, which set out to fish in the surrounding waters.


1 Woodland walking trail

2-4 Views of Strangford

5-7 Strangford Lough and views to Portaferry from the ferry

8 Kearney descendants

9-17 Beautiful Houses and the shoreline where the village is located

Bangor, County Down

A seaside resort on the southern side of Belfast Lough where, on a sunny Sunday, we met up with Anne and Alain’s friend Jonny and then we all walked along the coastal path, starting at the marina in Bangor and heading toward Helen's Bay.

Fun fact

The name Bangor is derived from the Irish word Beannchor (modern Irish Beannchar) meaning a horned or peaked curve or perhaps a staked enclosure, as the shape of Bangor Bay resembles the horns of a bull.

Belfast Castle... grounds

Belfast Castle sits in a prominent position in Cave Hill Country Park, with spectacular views out across the lough and the city.

The first Belfast Castle was built by the Normans in Belfast city centre in the late 12th century. A second castle, made of stone and timber, was later constructed by Sir Arthur Chichester, Baron of Belfast, on the same site in 1611.  Unfortunately the castle burned down almost 100 years later leaving only street names, such as Castle Place, to mark its location.

In 1862, the third Marquis of Donegall, a descendant of the Chichester family, decided to build a new castle within his deer park, situated on the side of Cave Hill in what is now north Belfast. 

Designs for the new building were completed by architect John Lanyon and reflected the popular Scottish baronial style. 

The castle was finished in 1870 and it was this castle that we visited - although we could only view it from the outside as the castle itself was still closed due to the Covid restrictions.


After Belfast Castle, we drove around Belfast Lough to Carrickfergus while playing Van Morrison’s ballad of the same name...

Carrickfergus Van Morrison, Paddy Moloney
I wished I had you in Carrickfergus, Only for nights in ballygrand, I would swim over the deepest ocean, The deepest ocean to be by your side. But the sea is wide and i can't swim over And neither have i wings to fly. I wish i could find me a handy boatman To ferry me over to my love and die. My childhood days bring back sad reflections Of happy days so long ago. My boyhood friends and my own relations. Have all passed on like the melting snow. So i'll spend my days in endless roving, Soft is the grass and my bed is free. Oh to be home now in carrickfergus, On the long road down to the salty sea. And in kilkenny it is reported On…

In Carrickfergus we explored the exterior of the Norman castle, one of the best preserved medieval structures in Northern Ireland. The castle stands on a rocky promontory of Belfast Lough (initially known as Carrickfergus Bay) that was originally almost surrounded by the sea; it is clearly visible as you approach the town.

From the Irish Carraig Ḟergus or "cairn of Fergus", the name "Fergus" meaning "strong man"

The sun had finally decided to make an appearance we stopped in at a bar called Bureau By The Lough that had a view over the lough for a couple of gins...

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