Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland: Our terrific top 10

1. Glenariff
2. Giant's Causeway
10. The feeling of home

Belfast Telegraph readers voted in droves in our search for The Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland, reveals Raymond Kilpatrick, and today we reveal their top 10.

These will now be assessed by a celebrity panel to create our definitive list of seven

1. Glenariff

Topping the poll was the majestic Glenariff in the Glens area of the north coast.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell was born in nearby Cushendall.

He said of Glenariff: “There is a sense of grandeur there, a sense of reach when you're high up.

“You get a clear view. And politics, which is on another planet, gets left behind.”

Two neighbouring attractions ensured north Antrim locations took the top three slots.

2. Giant’s Causeway

The spectacular causeway clinched second place in our poll.

Actor Billy Carter, who is set to star in new TV series Titanic: Blood And Steel, is backing the Causeway.

“It is such a powerful and unique place with those oddly-shaped columns spread over a vast area,” he said.

“For me the Giant's Causeway always spells Northern Ireland, no matter where in the world I see that image. We are lucky to have such an attraction.”

3. Antrim Coast Road

Hector McDonnell, one of Ireland's best known artists and son of the Earl of Antrim, is a huge fans of this route.

“The coastal road past the Glens is an amazing feat of engineering and extraordinarily beautiful,” he said.

“Among the glens I'm very fond of my own glen, Glenarm, but apart from that my favourite is Glenariff.”

4. Our friendliness

In fourth spot was the renowned warmth and friendliness of the people of Northern Ireland.

Eurovision winner Dana said: “From my earliest recollections of performing around the country, I remember people being very supportive and interested in how I was getting on. There was a great warmth from them. That, I think, is the hallmark of people here, they are open-hearted.”

5. Lough Neagh

Barry Douglas, internationally acclaimed classical pianist, conductor and founder of Camerata Ireland said: “The place that sums up Northern Ireland for me is Lough Neagh as we have a house nearby and my sons are now getting into fishing there. We love the strange and wonderful fish you find there, although my interest in the fish begins when it appears in the restaurant!”

6. Fermanagh Lakes

An enthusiastic fan of Fermanagh’s expansive lakeland, broadcaster Father Brian D'Arcy, the superior of Enniskillen Monastery, said: “When I want to escape I go to Inish Davar, a small island which is especially beautiful in May when it is carpeted with bluebells. You can hear the cuckoo and rarer species of birds trilling and singing.”

7. The Mournes

Former world boxing champ Barry McGuigan reckons the beauty of the Mournes in County Down batters the opposition: “Slieve Donard has the most beautiful colours and halfway up you can dangle your feet in the freezing cold streams to refresh yourself then put your boots back on for the final steep climb alongside the Mourne wall that was built back in the 1900s.

“It is a great spiritual walk, you feel relaxed and in the right place — home.”

8. Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter

One of the champions of the city’s bustling arts and culture district is renowned playwright Martin Lynch.

He said: “It is now one of the most popular areas of the city, full of entertainment and home to several cultural festivals each year.”

9. Strangford Lough

Lord Robin Eames, former primate of the Church of Ireland, is backing ninth-placed contender — Strangford Lough.

“It is a place of solitude where one can be alone with one’s thoughts or it can be a challenge, especially at the mouth of the lough where the waters rush strongly,” he said.

10. The feeling of home

TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, who nominated this treasured asset, said it is not one specific thing that makes Northern Ireland special, but a combination.

“When you’re from Northern Ireland you know the score — you know the territory, the people, the scenery, the food, the bad times, but most importantly... the good times.

“We are not perfect but we are extremely sociable — and don’t underestimate what an amazing quality that is.

“Whoever they are, or wherever they are, I bet, like me, they only refer to the six counties as one thing — and that’s home.

“Now isn’t that a true wonder?”

Just missing the cut were the Lagan towpath, Cloughey beach, Co Fermanagh as a whole and the city of Belfast.

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