Days Out in Northern Ireland
… a simple guide to help families find Great Days Out in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is a country of the United Kingdom located in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It has been variously described as a country, province, region, or “part” of the United Kingdom, amongst other terms.Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island’s total population and about 3% of the UK’s population.
The centrepiece of Northern Ireland’s geography is Lough Neagh, at 151 square miles the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Isles. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Erne in Fermanagh. The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlin, off the north Antrim coast. Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering 58 square miles.
There are substantial uplands in the Sperrin Mountains (an extension of the Caledonian mountain belt) with extensive gold deposits, granite Mourne Mountains and basalt Antrim Plateau, as well as smaller ranges in South Armagh and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone border. None of the hills are especially high, with Slieve Donard in the dramatic Mournes reaching 850 metres, Northern Ireland’s highest point. Belfast’s most prominent peak is Cavehill.
The volcanic activity which created the Antrim Plateau also formed the eerily geometric pillars of the Giant’s Causeway on the north Antrim coast. Also in north Antrim are the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Mussenden Temple and the Glens of Antrim.
The Lower and Upper River Bann, River Foyle and River Blackwater form extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry.
The valley of the River Lagan is dominated by Belfast. Belfast is the second largest and the capital city of Northern Ireland and became so in 1888. The legislature of Northern Ireland is located in the heart of this large city. Belfast is a part of the formation of the largest urban center in Northern Ireland which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Its population is estimated to be around 641,000 people, and its metropolitan area includes over a third of the population of Northern Ireland, with heavy urbanisation and industrialisation along the Lagan Valley and both shores of Belfast Lough.