Occupying just over one-sixth of the Irish landmass, Northern Ireland is a country that is rife with a very patchy history (filled with conflicts and disasters), and yet continues to hold its own both as a country and as a popular destination.
Often called a mini-UK, Northern Ireland packs in the best of the UK within a compact area – with picturesque glens and lochs that resemble Scotland, quaint villages that will transport one to rural Wales, and cities (like Belfast) that resemble Victorian London.
As mentioned earlier, the country used to be rife with conflicts between the Unionists and Republicans. That, however, came to an end since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which has allowed tourists to appreciate the beauty of this country.
From the cities to the villages to the outdoors, are a lot of places to visit in Northern Ireland. The city of Belfast is one of the biggest attractions, with its cultural centers, museums, monuments, music joints, nightlife, and of course, pubs and restaurants. Other important cities include the arts and culture and festival-rich Londonderry, and the cathedral city of Armagh. Outdoor attractions includes some of the most majestic mountains and extensive coastlines on the Irish landmass, such as the Mountains of Mourne, the Giant’s Causeway, and the mollifying mountains, among others.
While all of the countries in the UK have their own drinking culture, Northern Ireland holds a class of its own. Drinking pretty much gets the same status as an indoor sport, and people here really enjoy their drinking saloons and boozers. One is never too far away from a pub here.
In the last few years, Northern Ireland has gained immense fame as the filming location for the superhit series Game of Thrones. Tourists can the exact locations at which scenes were filmed, such as Downhill Beach (i.e. Dragonstone), Tollymore Forest Park (i.e. The Haunted Forest) and Pollnagollum Cave (i.e. Beric Dondarrion’s hideout). They can also snap pictures at these places to have as souvenirs.
The primary language spoken in Northern Ireland is English. Besides that, there are two recognized regional languages, namely the Irish language and the Ulster Scots, which is a variety of Scots language that is exclusive to the region.
A few facts about Northern Ireland:
- Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, was known to have played leading role in the Industrial Revolution.
- Famous Hollywood actor Liam Neeson was born in the town of Ballymena. He even made his stage debut at the Lyric Theater in Belfast.
- The Queen’s University in Belfast allowed women to hold any office – over 12 years before they were first allowed to study at Oxford.