You Raise Me Up

Though of Northern Irish descent, have never gotten too hyped up about St. Patrick’s Day. Could be a lot of reasons for that – for sure am not into “green beer” wild parades and parties side of the celebration that tends to be what we hear most about here. That said, I have been focused on the Irish side of it more this year. That, I suspect, is based solely on our trip last fall to NI. Frankly, I’d hop on a plane and go back today if I could. To me, it was simply magical.

Since that particular trip is not a present day option, I chose to pull out the Celtic Woman playlist on my iPhone and have played every song (including Christmas ones) multiple times. Twice, my family and I experienced Celtic Woman live in concert. If I could figure out how to get to Atlanta for their April 30th gig (already have too many commitments in a short time frame), I’d likely be going again. Their musical style speaks to me. I can’t explain it. It just does.

One of my very favorites is You Raise Me Up. The link below is to their official video. Filmed in Ireland, it is the real deal. More importantly, the words go straight to the heart.

Celtic Woman – You Raise Me Up – Video Dailymotion.

As we prepare for Easter, this goes deeper. God, through His Son Jesus Christ does indeed “raise us up”. In return, what did we do? We “lifted Him up” on the cross that awful Friday so we can eternally be raised up with Him.

In John 12:27-36 (HCB), we find these words:

“Now My soul is troubled. What should I say–Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!”

The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said that an angel had spoken to Him. Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.” He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.

Then the crowd replied to Him, “We have heard from the scripture that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can You say, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them.

As you prepare you heart for Easter, think about this. Are you in darkness? Do you know that The King has come and will be coming again. And when He does, will you be ready for Him to “raise you up”?

Still Choosing Joy!




When I am down and oh, my soul’s so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
then I am still and wait here in the silence
until you come and sit a while with me

There is no life, no life with out its hunger
each restless heart beats so imperfectly.
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
sometimes I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong when I am on you shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

NI – Epilogue

We are back to reality (or new reality in my case). Good and safe trip home and getting back to a routine (though we still don’t know what day it is!)

It was a trip not be forgotten. It was everything I hoped for and more. And Steve became a very good driver on the M, A, B, and unidentified roads with and without shoulders or even two lanes.

The weather was fully British – the day we left was the worse weather day we had and would have been difficult doing much of anything. Otherwise, we were out and about rain or shine. And for my cruising friends who will understand this comment, everything was a “walking tour” and we loved it!

It was so delightful to see that in a country that so wants to share what they have in terms of history and natural resources, they are not ripping up the hills and valleys and roads and putting in big (or small) resorts. People are friendly. Places are clean. Conversation is interesting. Politics are politics but old wounds are mostly healing. Everything is old. In terms of ancestors, while they all fought each other since the Middle Ages and before, they all seem to be distantly related (then aren’t we all!). 

Websites of interest from this adventure are listed below:

NI 2012 Our Time Our Place 

Causeway Coastal Route 

Ruby Stove Cottage 

 Titantic Tours Belfast

I recorded several short videos. This one at the Causeway is my favorite:

I would do this trip again in a minute.  Maybe one day I can.

Still Choosing Joy!


Glens of Antrim (9/10/2012)

We headed southward on the Causeway Coastal route this morning toward Glenarm Castle.  This 400 year old castle and its gardens is still the home to the Earl of Antrim. As a private residence, the home is seldom open to the public but the gardens in season are open. After our usual battle with “Bimbo” (what we have always called the GPS), we made it. It was raining before we got there and poured after we left but we had about an hour to wander through the lovely gardens. While they are just past peak, there were so many varieties and so much color.

Cabbages in the tea room garden at the Castle!
Love these!
Huge Onions!
Water feature in garden
Apple trees trellised to the stone wall – amazing!

Glenarm castle is where the MacDonnels relocated permanently when they left Dunluce Castle. It is located at the Village of Glenarm on the Irish Sea. This also happens to be in the glen of Glenarm, meaning “glen of the army”.

There are nine Glens of Antrim. They are beautiful areas that go from right at the sea to the highlands. There are forests, rivers, heather fields, rocky areas. There is a lake called “the vanishing lake” that literally fills up with rainwater and then drains out through craters.  All of this resulted from volcanic and glacial activity over many years. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be on a clear day. It was amazing on an overcast day like today. 

We passed by Bonamargy Friary just outside Ballycastle. We did not stop due to the wet. It is where all the infamous MacDonnels are buried. Though no longer an active church (has no roof), it is loaded with history and looked mysterious just sitting near the roadway.

I have to say Steve, the most excellent driver, did not see too much since he was concentrating on the narrow and often winding road.

Things of note about NI drivers: They drive fast. They park in either lane of the road and think nothing of it.  They open the car door into oncoming traffic.  Add to that walkers and bikers (most often without reflective gear) use the roads at all hours of the day and night.  It is an adventure for sure! Oh and the GPS is seldom sure what to do.  The road signs for the Causeway Coastal Route are good so we have done fine for the most part using all of the above.

Sheep in the pasture adjacent to the Red Door Tea Room – they had attitude!

 We stopped at The Red Door Tea Room where  we had eaten one day last week for lunch again. The husband and wife who own the place were delightful and helpful and serve great stuff.

Local pan fried mackerel – delicious!
Entrance to Red Door Tea Room

Tomorrow back to Belfast. We have decided to take the motorway through. The middle of NI since we have now drive all but a few miles of the Coastal Route. We have to turn the car in by 1pm and we think that is our best chance of making it (leaving time to get lost in Belfast’s one way streets!)
End of the day, we had rain. I wandered outside afterwards to take a few photos and found a double rainbow! Luck of the Irish for sure!

Old horse cart on property at Ruby Stove Cottage
Old pump behind our cottage

Double Rainbow

 This is probably my final post from NI. See you when we return home.

Still Choosing Joy!


Favorite Traveling Companion
Poppies – in GB always signify “remembrance”

Not sure what this is but it was pretty!


Rainy Days and Sundays (9/9/2012)

Up earlier today so we could enjoy the Irish Breakfast included in our stay.  It was at a B&B called Seaview not far from here.

Seaview – Location of our Irish Breakfast

Afterwards we drove down past Castlerock to Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demense.  This was the only one of the “top five must see” places on the Causeway Coast that we had not yet seen. “Downhill” began resemble its present form in 1772 when Earl Bishop Frederick chose this spot to build this enormous estate including gardens, a summer house for his daughter, a “Temple” named for a local lady that served as a summer library, and a mausoleum dedicated to his brother who was “blown down” in some storm. The garden included exotic vegetables including cucumbers, peaches and grapes. Guess Kroger was not available for these. The house was destroyed by fire in the mid 1800’s.

At entrance

The estate was used as billets for the British RAF in WWII and remained under private ownership even after the war but was abandoned.  The National Trust took it over at some point and stabilized the remains. This trip was our first into County Derry.

Same fine traveler!
Mausoleum on Estate
Ice house at kitchen garden
“Temple” patterned after Vesta in Italy – was a library back in the day

At Bishop’s Gate
Also at Bishop’s Gate

We had a late lunch at the Causeway Hotel and are hoping the weather breaks for our last day here tomorrow. We think we will go back to Ballycastle and up into the Glens of Antrim.

Staircase inside The Causeway Hotel

Still Choosing Joy!


Walking Around (9/8/2012)

Today we went back to the Causeway. Being the weekend it was really crowded. Steve wanted to hike the upper trail. I chose the cliff trail. We both had a great time and different views than before. 

Leaving there, we headed for lunch at a village named Portballintrae – another fishing village and holiday spot on the coast. We chose Sweeney’s and had really great fish and chips in a very pleasant combo wine bar – pub. 

Good looking tourist!
Sweeney’s in Portballintrae – fish and chips for lunch

Following that I wanted to return to Dunluce Castle. That place is magical. That said the car park was overflowing out to the highway so we decided to put that repeat off until maybe later. We did find on Ballytober Road the ruins of St. Cuthburt’s, the church for the palace. We roamed through the cemetery as well as inside the church (now roofless). Most of the graves are from the mid 19th century though I saw one much older from the late 1700s and one from 1985. There are many stones you cannot read and many that are too old or in too much disrepair to read.

Road to St. Cuthburt’s Church

Inside St. Cuthburth’s

Tourist in Ole Miss game day gear!

St. Cuthburt’s – Church to Dunluce Castle

We headed back up the Coastal Causeway past the cottage and to the ruins of Dunseverek.

The term “dun” means fort and indicates a royal connection.  It is noted that there was probably some sort of stronghold here as far back as the Iron Age in the mid 500’s BC. St. Patrick is also rumored to have visited here in the 5th century. 

Dunseverek Castle Ruins

What remains is the 16th century stone tower. This castle was destroyed over time in the 16th century due to fighting between the MacDonnels, O’Neills, O’Cahans, and MacQuillans. Based on some of the McHenry history I have read, there are some connections noted for sure to O’Cahan and possibly O’Neill. 

We have been so taken with the sheep and cattle here. Beautiful animals. Adds to the peace of the place. In a land so historically filled with fighting and war, peace here is so overwhelming.

More tomorrow.

Still Choosing Joy!