THE TOP TEN by THE TRAVEL ROOM
BALLYCASTLE, NORTHERN IRELAND -
10 QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERING!
Ballycastle in located on the northern coast of Northern Ireland, about a 25km walk from the Giants Causeway. Recently Ted and Dani of The Travel Room spent 3 nights in this quirky little village and left with a feeling of visiting a town worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the fictional 'Stepford'; odd things were definitely afoot.
Why is Ballycastle spray painted out on the road signs?
As you get closer to Ballycastle you start to see something very odd, and that is that someone has gone to the trouble of spray painting out the village's name on the road signs, easy to spot if you are on push bikes like us, but very easy to miss if you are in a car. What are they hiding from?
Who are the silent majority that Tesco alludes to?
Tesco bought a large site on the outskirts of the village several years ago and entered into a consultation process with the local community. This obviously hasn't gone very well as the site is still waste land and the website they set up to communicate to Ballycastle has now closed. Media articles now just refer to a mysterious majority who support the Tesco, and apparently are either controlled or are in fear of the vocal minority.
Why won't they let you catch the ferry to Rathlin Island?
Six short miles from Ballycastle is the island of Rathlin with its seal colonies and puffins, but six miles may as well be sixty if you don't have a boat. Up we rocked to the ferry office, whose timetable is clearly displayed around the town for all to see, only to be told that there are no more day trips today. Thinking the ferries must be full, we watched as the ferry departed with 2 cars and 4 people on board. We then checked hourly and ferries seemed to mysteriously stop running, with no reason given. A check of the website alluded to being able to book 24 hours in advance, we tried, you couldn't...
Why can I only bathe in the sea, no swimming allowed?
All along the beach we were met with signs that said you could only bathe in the sea, no swimming allowed. We have never in all our travels seen such signs. If it is because there are no lifeguards, surely you would have signs telling you this and that you swim at your own risk. What is hiding in the depths of Ballycastle's water that stops swimming and ferries...
Why is there an ANZAC pub, but no Australians?
We entered the ANZAC pub with it's pictures of Aussie soldiers and dunny signs to be greeted with a bar that served only Irish or European alcohol and was hosting a country music night which consisted of repeatedly showing taped television shows of Irish country singers balefully whining about a lack of women or the folly of too much alcohol. Any locals, though scarce, who complained, were subjected to a pause, rewind and replay of the offending tuneless ditty until they agreed with the jolly Irish landlady that this truly was God's own music. Advance Australia Fair indeed.
Please leave a comment and we'll post it here shortly...leave your name and email too and we'll attribute your comment to you and add you to our mailing list as well!
Why is Marconi's Cottage called that?
It is true that the first wireless communication in the world was between Ballycastle and Rathlin Island, but the newly renovated private house that is called Marconi's Cottage has absolutely nothing to do with the man himself. Marconi's mother was actually Irish (heir to the Jameson Whiskey fortune) and somewhere high in the hills the broadcast was made, but not here. So why again?
Why is the walking path from Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to Ballycastle unwalkable?
After walking the 16kms from Giants Causeway to the rope bridge we were informed that the path (as shown on maps of the area) to take us to Ballycastle was too dangerous and had been closed. Yet another route to Ballycastle was blocked. We were told this by the National Trust (NT) officer on duty, who then warned us about following the NT signed road route as this was also dangerous as the locals and tourists alike may run us down. His suggestion? Hitch-hike, now there's a safe mode of transport! 30 minutes later he drove past us as we walked, staring intently in the rear view mirror.
Why is the biggest hotel closed and all promenade building stopped?
The major hotel and restaurant on the promenade was closed, the building of new residences on the same promenade had ground to a halt. In a place so close to Giants Causeway and Rathlin Island and with the potential to be a tourist goldmine, how did this happen?
Why do tractors race down the main street?
At any time of the day or night, be patient and you will be rewarded with the sight of a crazed local, shirt off, driving their oversized tractor as fast as it will go down the main street, over any annoying obstacles in the way, such as roundabouts etc.
What has happened here?
As the riots intensified in London a local barman sang a chorus of 'London Burning' to the tune of the Clashes 'London Calling' to squeals of laughter from his co workers. A meal of mackerel ensured one of us 9 trips to the bathroom that evening. Nothing further than a perfunctory please or thank you was ever offered to either us or any of the other lost souls who wandered into this town, so what is being hidden? Our only thought is that there is a festival here one day a year and we were told by one 'reliable' local that 200,000 people turn up for the day. Maybe, just maybe, that one day scars the locals to such a degree that all strangers for the other 364 are shunned. Or is there a darker secret to Ballycastle
The mysterious village of Ballycastle.
Two empty ferries, but no day-trippers allowed!
Caught trying to walk to Rathlin Island.
Bathing, but no swimming...maybe a new Loch Ness!
Marconi's Cottage - Marconi never stayed here.
Another lovely view from Ballycastle!
Another ferry to nowhere.
Rathlin Island and it's secrets.
I live here, in between travels, & couldn't agree more with the article's slant.That in essence is the allure of this mysterious 'village'. Stranger happenings are afoot this fall with the arrival of Hammas Palestinian tourists who must delight in the relaxed intrigue of the place. This should greatly add to the rich ethnicity one experiences here. But not all strangers are so welcome as evidenced earlier in the summer when Hordes of bowler hatted throwbacks to another era ( & area) descended on the 'village' complete with tribal drums & uniforms. Hardly a local could be located to welcome this brightly coloured invasion. The glum & dour expressions on the visitor's faces added to the mystery. Yes, Ballycastle..a place of secrets,mystery & intrigue.
- Ray Sands 23rd August 2011
Thank's for adding to the mystery Ray! - Ted of The Travel Room 24 Aug 2011