SPC Tour of Ireland – Day 10

April 2, 2016

SPC Tour of Ireland -“ Day 10

An early departure from Maghera meant boys had to be returned from their homestay families by 7.30am.

The students returned with many varied tales of enjoying the wonderful hospitality from their Irish hosts, including many who had spent a couple of nights on rural properties, being put to the test with some manual labour on the farms.

Once all were back on the bus it was time to hit the road, heading even further north to the World Heritage listed site known as Giant’s Causeway.

Located on the far north east coast of the country, from where Scotland is visible on a clear day, the Giant’s Causeway is a unique natural formation of rectangle and hexagonal stone columns which rise from the rocky coastline.

The amazing structures were formed millions of years ago as a result of volcanic eruption and are now accessible to all following a one kilometre walk down from the nearest cliff face.

All involved in our touring party enjoyed being able to walk out along the rocks for photo opportunities and wonder in the beauty of this unique and rugged coastline.

A brief visit to the gift shop followed before the touring party again resumed travelling towards Belfast -“ the capital of Northern Ireland.

A lunch-break along the way enabled all to see the 900-year old fort castle located in the northern Belfast suburb of Carrickfergus.

Next stop was a 90-minute excursion to one of the newest and most popular tourist attractions in Europe -“ the Belfast Titanic Museum.

Situated on the slipway where the most famous ocean liner in history was built, the museum was opened in 2012 and provides a four-storey interactive immersion into the story of arguably the world’s most famous transport disaster.

The stunning architecture of the new building in the heart of Belfast’s port district shows this strife-torn city in its best light. However, the next part of our educational experience provided the opposite impact.

A bus tour through the inner western suburbs of Belfast proved to be a real eye-opening experience. These rough streets are still divided into fenced and gated Catholic and Protestant districts with a distinct air of tension still lingering.

Our knowledgeable local tour guides provided confronting and dramatic insights into the Troubles of the city throughout the past four decades with many issues remaining unresolved today.

Students were able to tour through streets on both sides of the fence, witness the scenes of countless bombings and murders, and pause at the base of Sinn Fein which houses the offices of leader Gerry Adams.

In almost every aspect the streets of these areas of Belfast provide a stark reminder of how lucky our boys are to have grown up in peaceful and united Victoria.

With stories of hardship ringing in our ears we then checked into the famous Europa Hotel in central Belfast -“ a hotel which proudly claims the dubious honour of being the most bombed hotel in the world.

A brief break enabled all to freshen up before attending Mass at St Patrick’s Church before returning to the exclusive hotel for dinner to end a hectic day.

Tonight represents our last night on the island of Ireland as we fly out of Belfast tomorrow, headed for London.