Northern Ireland has always been an assemblage of breathtaking landscapes and brilliant architecture, but it hasn’t been until the past decade or so that visitors have begun to flock to its idyllic towns and fascinating shores, basking in the genuine warmth and charm of the region.
This is a land of rural heritage, where 12th-century castle ruins dot the countryside, fishing villages string along the coastal shores, and traffic jams rarely consist of anything but sheep or traveling musicians crossing over to the next pasture or town festival. To experience the fickle weather of Northern Ireland is to witness a rain-induced majesty along the emerald green landscape, eventually clearing to paint a sky as blue as the epic “Mountains of Mourne sweeping down to the sea.” Fortunately, given that Northern Ireland is only around 5,500 square miles—about the size of Connecticut—you are never far from the next point of interest, whether the famous fairways of championship golf courses, the cruising waters of Lough Erne and Neagh, the epic surf off the Antrim coast, the geological marvels of Giant’s Causeway, or the historic cities of Belfast, Derry, and Armagh.
Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, has undergone a vibrant renaissance, shedding its former, paramilitary-conflicted past and donning its newfound role as one of the best cities in the U.K., a label it has earned for its award-winning architecture, cosmopolitan restaurants, evolving modern art scene, packed-out pubs, and the glistening luxury of the recently-designated Titanic Quarter. Londonderry, or “Derry” as it is known in the South, is an up-and-coming hot spot for its powerful political murals, lively music scene, and witty and optimistic people. Its 16th century stone city walls, once a symbol of both oppression and reassurance, are now among the country’s finest architectural treasures. Londonderry also serves an excellent gateway to the Causeway Coast and the geologically-bizarre Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Attracting more and more visitors each year, this northernmost slice of the country is home to rugged columnar coastlines rising out of the sea, ancient folklore involving Irish giants, and Old Bushmills, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery.
The people of this beautiful region are passionate in both heart and hospitality, and Ker & Downey cannot wait to introduce you to their restored and remarkable home.