Northern Ireland: Places to Explore

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Glens of Antrim

North of Carrickfergus after Larne, the coast of County Antrim becomes spectacular—wave upon wave of high green hills that curve down to the hazy sea are dotted with lush glens, or valleys, first carved out by glaciers at the end of the last ice age. Nine wooded river valleys occupy the 86 km (54 miles) between Larne and Ballycastle, the two largest towns in the Glens of Antrim. Until the building of the narrow coastal road in 1834, the Glens were home to isolated farming communities whose residents adhered to the romantic, mystical Celtic legends and the everyday use of the Irish language. Steeped in Irish mythology, the Glens were first inhabited by small bands of Irish monks as early as AD 700. Some residents proudly note that Ossian, the greatest of the Celtic poets, is supposedly buried near Glenaan. The Glens are famed beauty spots and popular destinations: for tourist offices, head to the larger towns such as Larne, Ballymena, and Ballycastle. Cushendall, Cushendun, and Carnlough are extremely small and can't support tourist offices even in high season, though McKillop's (14–16 Main St. 028/2888–5236), a shop in Carnlough, has leaflets describing local attractions, and the folks there are happy to offer tips about the Glens. Also helpful is the Causeway Coast and Glens website.

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