Saturday, April 12, 2014

Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Day 256
Road Trip Day 7:

Once again we left the hostel bright and early. Our ultimate destination is Oranmore, Ireland, where our friend Fona grew-up. However, we wanted to stop and see Giant's Causeway along the way. We discovered that Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge was en route and it is also a National Trust property so we knew we had to check it out.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede (from Irish: Carraig a' RĂ¡id, meaning "rock of the casting"). It spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below. [source]

Salmon fisherman have been building 
bridges to the island for over 350 years.

It poured rain on the drive here, 
but stopped by the time we arrived.

There it is - GULP!

I was proud of all the kids, but especially 
Addie who was really scared to go across.

The other side

Only 8 people are allowed on the bridge at the same time. There is a National Trust employee at the gatehouse instructing people on when they can cross.


There is something built into the side of the rock.

This small island also had a structure or ruin on it.

What a cool experience! I was also proud of my dad, who has trouble with his knees and finds it difficult to walk sometimes. He did a great job!

Next up: Giant's Causeway

Friday, April 11, 2014

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Day 255
Road Trip Day 6:

We took another ferry, this time from Troon, UK, to Larne, Northern Ireland. It was a two-hour ferry but the kids entertained themselves with books and card games.

Once again we stayed in a hostel, but shockingly, I forgot to take a photo of the hostel. This was by far the most crowded of the hostel rooms that we have stayed in. The bunk beds were really low so it was hard for me, Jeff and Dad to even sit on them to chat. There were no chairs and no hooks to hang things. Thankfully, we don't spend a lot of time in the room.

We only had the afternoon to explore Belfast so we decided to go for a walk to check out the city and to see the free museum. Here are some snaps from our walk:

Queen's University

This is in the botanical gardens outside of Ulster Museum.

Ulster Museum

The body of Takabuti

Our hostel from the outside.

Next up: Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Duart Castle, The Isle of Mull, Scotland

Day 254
Road Trip Day 5:

One of our main goals in going to Scotland was to go to the Isle of Skye where our first McLean ancestor was born. I have written about Lauchlan McLean before, and how he was the first McLean to come to Canada. Lauchlan was born on the Isle of Skye in 1810 and he died in PEI in 1880 at age 72.

I really wanted to go to the Isle of Skye but when we were planning our trip we realized that getting to the Isle of Skye would add a lot more time and driving to our trip. It also occurred to me that just because Lauchlan McLean was born on the Isle of Skye didn't mean I was going to arrive on the island and find out any more significant details about him. It is not like I would be able to find the house he lived in or meet anyone related to him.

My mom's cousin Andrea Jonasson did a lot of research on the McLean clan and wrote about book Lauchlan McLean and his family. In the book she wrote it was thought that the MacLeans of Skye were descendants of the MacLeans of Duart. Once I realized this, it made more sense for us to go to the Isle of Mull rather than the Isle of Skye. It would also take us much less time to get to the Isle of Mull and I wanted to go to the castle that my grandparents were at years earlier. Here are a few paragraphs taken from Andrea's book, "The Family History of Lauchlan McLean":

The MacLeans of Mull were of very ancient lineage, claiming descent from the Kings of Ireland. They were a noble clan (there was reputed to be only one bad chief) and their tradition has many stories of great deeds. 
The MacLeans of Duart are Celtic. They were vassals of the Lords of the Isles, but became independent on the forfeiture of the latter in 1476. In many old deeds and acts of Parliament, their cheif is styled "Laird of MacLean". Duart Castle, facing Lismore, is their family stronghld and their present cheif is Sir Charles H. MacLean.
Andrea also wrote that she is not sure when or why the MacLeans changed the spelling from Mac to Mc, but they are all the same clan.

We had to wake-up early and do the long drive around Loch Lomond. Once we got to the other side of the lake it was another 2-hour drive after that. The ferry ride was 45 minutes.

Our destination - Duart Castle

The road to the castle was very narrow and the man driving in front of us tried to move out of the way for the oncoming car and ended up getting stuck in deep mud. Dad, Jeff and a few others tried to push him out but there was no budging the car. The woman from the car ran back down the road to where we had passed a backhoe. We saw the family later and they told us that the backhoe rescued their car from the mud.

My grandparents did a road trip through Scotland and my poppa sent me some of the account he wrote about the trip along with some photos. Here is a photo of my poppa and his 3 siblings standing in front of Duart Castle in 1979.

It still looks the same, but it looks like the parking lot has been moved further down the hill since 1979.

Here is our recreation of the same photo from 1979. Ideally, we would have been a bit closer to the castle but we didn't want to impose too much on the person taking the photo.

Castle entrance

The inner courtyard

The kitchen

Here is what the caption says:
Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart, 28th Chief of the Clan, at the dedication of a cairn at Inverkeithing, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the battle on 20 July 1651, when Cromwell's forces annihilated a Royalist army. The largest contingent on the Royalist side was of Macleans, almost all of whom perished, including Sir Hector, the 18th Chief.

In 1527 Lachlan MacLean of Duart bound his wife Catherine and left her on this rock, hoping she would drown when the tide rose. Lachlan pretended she drowned but discovered the next day that she had been rescued. A year later Catherine's brother killed Lachlan.

The kids signed the guest book, but when the woman working in this room found out that my poppa was a McLean, she brought out the "special" guest book that only MacLean descendants can sign. I felt pretty special. The woman even checked for the MacLean guest book that my poppa signed in 1979, but it had recently been given to someone who needed it for research and it wasn't available. Too bad.

This is a very awkward and dorky photo of me attempting to make it look like I am holding a sword and shield. Good thing I don't really have to use those in real life or I would be dead in a hurry! This staircase was designed so that a person could easily walk upstairs backwards while wielding a sword and shield.

A MacLean is an astronaut. Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean went into space in September, 2006.

The Clan MacLean motto:


After leaving the castle we still had some time before we needed to board the return ferry. We drove around Mull for awhile.

Duart Castle was one of my favourite castles. I supposed the fact that it is the castle of the MacLean clan has a lot to do with it. However, we also liked that the castle was furnished and kid-friendly. It was also not too big and it wasn't busy.

Next up: Belfast, Northern Ireland