NORTHERN IRELAND’S MOST SPECTACULAR COUNTY
(P1) Of the six counties found in Northern Ireland, County Antrim is perhaps the most famous. It’s home to Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast, as well as one of the country’s greatest coastal attractions: Giant’s Causeway, a MASSIVE surface that resulted from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.
(P2) But there’s more to this RUGGED region. With more than 200km of coastline, Northern Ireland’s is a STRIKING VISTA of blue and green, full of MEDIEVAL castles, RICKETY bridges, and colourful GLENS to explore.
(P3) Located just outside the small village of Portballintrae, Dunluce Castle is one of the oldest RUINS in County Antrim. Records show that the castle was built in 1500 by the McQuillans, a ruling family originally from southwest Scotland. They first arrived in Northern Ireland in the 1200s as hired MERCENARIES.
(P4) The medieval residence has had its FAIR SHARE of TURBULENT years, with the most DECISIVE battle over its grounds taking place in 1565. The MacDonnells of Antrim, a branch of the Highland Scottish CLAN Donald, had come over from Islay in 1554. They BESIEGED the castle during that FATEFUL Battle of Orla, and claimed ownership of the STRONGHOLD. Over the next century, the MacDonnells’ control over the castle was challenged many times, and the family ULTIMATELY left Dunluce in the mid-16th Century, leaving the castle to DECAY.
(P5) Perhaps the county’s most SPECTACULAR Cliffside feature is the historic Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, located about 18km east of Dunluce Castle in Ballintoy. The bridge is the only route between the mainland and the island of Carrick (Rocky Island).
(P6) Carrick-a-Rede was first constructed in the 1660s by fishermen needing to check on their SALMON nets below. They used the large caves and caverns that cut into the island as shelter during turbulent weather.
(P7) Today, the SUSPENSION BRIDGE has become an attraction for those DARING enough to cross it. Once only supported by a SHAKY, single-rope handrail, Carrick-a-Rede has gradually gotten STURDIER since the 1970s. The current bridge was strung with wire rope and wooden PLANKS in 2008. Sea-green and aqua-HUED waters stir below, while BREATHTAKING views of nearby Rathlin Island, the Causeway Coast, and the Scottish Isles dance over the HORIZON.
(P8) The rocky OUTCROPS surrounding Carrick-a-Rede bridge are splashed with colour during the spring and summer seasons. But County Antrim’s most VIBRANT colours can be found away from the shores, in valleys such as Glenariff, one of the nine Glens of Antrim: valleys that stretch from the Antrim Hills to the northern coast.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Have you ever visited a castle or similar structure?
- Would you cross that rope bridge?
- What was happening in your country during medieval times?
- What is your favorite season to explore nature?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Fair share