The Engaging Ireland Podcast

Providing travel tips, guides to places of interest, interviews and all things Ireland – Hosted by Travis and Kathy Nelson

Ep. 37 – The Gobbins Path


The Gobbins Path - The Eye

The Gobbins is a cliff-face path on IslandMagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, northeast of Belfast. Unlike many other costal paths that just follow close along the top of an ocean-side cliff, the Gobbins first descends down to sea level, then winds along he base of the cliff, up and down steep cut stone stairs, across bridges from sea-stack to cliff face and island to island, past caves and through a narrow tunnel. Though it was long inaccessible to the public because it fell into disrepair after World War II, it has been rebuilt within the last several years and re-opened to the public as of Summer 2015.

Start out at the beautiful visitor’s center for a walk through the interpretive display to learn about the history of the path, the wildlife that abounds in the surrounding area, and the astounding effort that it took to reconstruct the path in its current incarnation.


The Gobbins Visitor's Center


If you’d like to check out some parts of the Gobbins path from the comfort of your own home, take a look at the 360 degree pictures of the Gobbins on



The Gobbins - Tubular Bridge


Walking the Gobbins path is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience…though we’re already looking forward to the next time we get to walk the Gobbins! We highly recommend a visit!


The Gobbins - Bridges


Check out the official Gobbins Path website at:

Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 8:22 pm.

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Ep. 29 – In the Footsteps of Patrick

Hill of Slane

In this episode, we follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, paying a visit to a few of the key sights connected with Ireland’s patron saint. Below you will find links to a variety of resources providing information about the sites included in this show.


Info about Slemish Mountain from Discover Northern Ireland:


To get to Slemish: take the A42 Carnlaugh road from Ballymena towards Carnlaugh/Glenarm on the Antrim Coast (or vice versa). About 7 miles outside Ballymena and to the right of the road is the little village of Buckna. Just outside it is Carnstroan Lane which will take you to the car park at the foot of Mountain.


Saints and Stones: Saul Church, County Down


To get to Saul Church: From Downpatrick, follow the A25 to Strangford. Turn right onto Mearne Road. At the crossroads, turn right following the signpost for the church.


Hill of Slane:


Croagh Patrick, County Mayo


Visitor’s Centre for Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick is situated five miles from Westport on the R335 road. The Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Teach na Miasa, is situated in Murrisk on the Pilgrim’s path at the base of Croagh Patrick mountain and opposite the National Famine Monument.


Croagh Patrick is situated near the town of Westport in County Mayo, Ireland. It is approximately 92 km from Galway City and 230 km from Dublin City. The main pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. Westport is served by both bus and train from Dublin and Galway. The Croagh Patrick Information Centre is a further 8 km west of the town of Westport.


Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend. What equipment is necessary for the climb? It is advisable to take sturdy footwear, rainwear and some drinking water. Climbing sticks are for sale at the Centre.


The Centre provides the following facilities: restaurant, information services, guided tours of the mountain, packed lunches, secure lockers, craft shop, shower facilities (for a nominal fee).

What are the Centre’s business hours? Spring Season (April and May) 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. High Season (June through August) 10.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m. Shoulder Season (September and October) 11.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. Low Season (November through March) Limited opening hours. Please e-mail for details. If you’re interested in possibly joining a group pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, call on this number for more information: +353 (0) 98 28871.


Discover Ireland website:

Directions: Croagh Patrick is situated five miles from Westport on the R335 road. The Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, Teach na Miasa, is situated in Murrisk on the Pilgrim’s path at the base of Croagh Patrick mountain and opposite the National Famine Monument.

Note: Croagh Patrick is a high mountain and is a difficult climb, so those climbing it should be prepared. It is advisable to wear solid footwear and bring good clothing, a stick and mobile phone. It can get very cold on top of the mountain and weather conditions can change during the course of the climb.

Pilgrimages: For group pilgrimage enquiries call: +353 (0) 98 28871

Opening Details: Opening Details Public access to the mountain. Visitor Centre open daily from St Patrick’s Day through to October.


Jim Burns’ account of his amazing, but harrowing climb on Croagh Patrick.



St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, County Armagh info came from here:


April – October: 9.00am – 5.00pm

November – March: 9.00am – 4.00pm

Group tours must be pre-arranged with the Cathedral Steward.


As the Cathedral receives no state funding visitors are invited to make a small donation to assist with the preservation of this historic building. The suggested amount is £3 for adults or £2 concession.


Sunday Services

10.00am Holy Communion – (Said – No sermon or hymns) Traditional Form except 2nd Sunday

11.00am Sung Eucharist – Choral Matins 2nd Sunday, Contemporary Form

3.15pm Choral Evensong – Sung Eucharist 2nd Sunday, Traditional Form


Weekday Services (Monday – Saturday)

9.30am Said Matins

12.30pm Celtic Eucharist – 1st Wednesday of each month


St. Tassach’s Church, Raholp, Co. Down


Down Cathedral 


+44 (0) 28 4461 4922
+44 (0) 28 4461 4456




From Visit Downpatrick website”


Opening Hours:-
Monday – Saturday – 9.30am to 4.30pm
Sunday – to 5.00pm



Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick

+44 (0)28 4461 9000

+44 (0)28 4461 9111


Opening Hours:

January – December

Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday Closed
St. Patrick’s Day 9am – 7pm

July – August

Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 1pm – 5pm

The Centre is located on the Market Street, in Downpatrick’s town centre.

Travel by Bus and Rail from Belfast:

The local Ulsterbus service regularly goes twice an hour from Belfast to Downpatrick. The Europa Bus Centre is located in Glengal Street beside the Opera House and behind the Europa Hotel. The journey takes just over an hour and the Centre is a 2 minute walk from Downpatrick Bus Station. See the Ulsterbus timetable for more details about your specific journey.

Travel by Bus and Rail from Dublin to Downpatrick:

Regular services run from Dublin Connolly Station the Dublin Busaras bus station and Dublin Airport. A connection can be made in Newry or a rail and bus connection through Belfast. The Centre is a 2 minute walk from Downpatrick Bus Station.


Travelling by Road from Dublin:

Take the M1 North to Dundalk, the N1 to Newry, enter the town and take the A25 to Downpatrick through Hilltown and Castlewellan.

Travelling by Road from Belfast:

Take the A24 out of Belfast heading for Newcastle and the A7 to Downpatrick through Carryduff, Saintfield and Crossgar.


Adults £ 4.95

Children £ 2.55

Concession £ 3.35

Family £11.75
(2 Adults & 2 Children)

Adult Groups £ 3.30
(25 or more)

Children’s Groups £ 2.25
(25 or more)

Senior Citizen Groups £ 2.70

Education Group £ 3.50

Auditorium Only £ 2.15



Assorted links to information about Saint Patrick:

Jump into Ireland Blog about St. Patrick’s Trail


The Catholic Church’s information about St. Patrick


St Patrick’s Cathedral – Armagh and its link to Patrick



A recreation of Saint Patrick’s legendary journey

From Pocket Britain


The Real St. Patrick, Bishop of Ireland

by Fr. Kristopher and Matushka Elizabeth Dowling

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 10:44 pm.

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Ep. 28 -Part 2- Northern Ireland and Donegal Top 10

Section of the walls of Derry

7. The Walls of Derry (or Londonderry) –

  • A good parking location is in the garage for the shopping mall, which is next to the Tourist Information office, then you can walk through the mall to get to the wall walk.
  • Costs about £1 an hour for parking.
  • Plaques and signs are located all around the walls to tell you the story of Derry and its history.
  • Places to make sure and visit as you walk the walls:
  • St. Columba’s
  • St. Augustine’s
  • Tower Museum
  • We spent about 6 hours in Derry, just walking the walls, visiting the places we mentioned, and talking to people.
  • If you’d like to do more of the walking tours (like the Bogside and Waterside walks) we’d recommend staying overnight in the area and allowing one full day or even two days for Derry.
  • You can pick up informational brochures and contact information about the city and the walks at the TI. You can also catch hop-on-hop-off bus tours out in front of the TI.
  • Derry has been named a U.K. City of Culture for 2013, so some special events are being planned in the area that might influence your travel plans.  This is also possibly the reason that so much of the city is currently under construction right now (they’re sprucing it up for the influx of tourists in 2013).

View from the top of Slieve Donard

8. Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains

  • Newcastle makes a great base for walks in the Mourne Mountains.
  • It’s a beautiful seaside town with good accommodation, beautiful views, and some of the best food we had on our trip.
  • There are multiple walks easily accessible within a short distance of the town.
  • Trail head to Slieve Donard (the highest peak in NI) and/or Slieve Commedagh (the 2nd highest) is accessed right in town at a city park (Donard Park, in fact).
  • This link on the Walk NI site shows the route we took to the top of Slieve Donard:
  • Be sure to look at all the great walks on  They’ve got lots of great walks for all still levels, including many in the Mournes.
  • If you’re planning to walk in the Mournes, also be sure to stop by the TI in Newcastle, as they have a lot of resources about hiking in the Mournes (we missed out on this while we were there, and really wish we’d stopped by to pick up some of the walking information that they have there).

Falls in Glenariff Forest Park

9. Glenariff Forest Park

  • Glenariff has great walks (four, ranging in length between .5 miles and 5.5 miles), amazing scenery, including waterfalls, gardens, fern dells, forests and sea views.
  • Opening Hours – Open every day of the year from10.00 am until sunset.
  • Admission – Charges are displayed at the entrance to the Park. Not really a charge to get in the park, but a charge to park once you’re there. It’s disc parking.
  • Services:
  • Caravanning and Camping Sites.
  • Picnic and Barbecue areas, as well as a café/tea shop and gift shop.
  • Toilets.
  • Way-marked Trails.
  • Horse riding routes.
  • Guided Tours (bookable by organized groups).
  • Disabled facilities.

Mount Stewart House and Garden

10. Mount Stewart House and Gardens

  • Located southeast of Newtownards on the shore of Strangford Lough.
  • The estate came to its current name in 1744 when Alexander Stewart purchased the property, which was then known as Mount Pleasant
  • The work on the house, as it looks now, began in 1804
  • The gardens in their current form are mostly due to the work of the Edith, Lady Londonderry, and the current owner of the house, Lady Mairi Bury.
  • While the house is interesting, the gardens are truly something special.  They include:
  • Sunken Garden
  • Shamrock Garden
  • Spanish Garden
  • Peace Garden
  • Mairi garden
  • Dodo Terrace (sculptures)
  • Italian Garden
  • Lake Walk
  • Tir Nan Og
  • Burial ground for the family
  • Rock Walk
  • Ladies’ Walk
  • Rhododendron Hill
  • The Lily Wood
  • Temple of the Winds
  • Built overlooking Strangford Lough
  • Commissioned in 1782
  • This building only open on Sundays 2-5 pm
  • Be sure to check the schedule on their website before you go
  • If they’re hosting a big event – say, a classic car show on Father’s Day Sunday – the grounds will be overrun by throngs of visitors.  Make sure that you’ll be able to truly enjoy this amazing house and garden.
  • General hours of the property are 10-6/House hours 12-6
  • Admission is £7 adult/£3.50 Child/£17.50 family
  • No extra cost for house tour, which takes about 45 minutes
  • To go on all the walks and see all the gardens, you’d need at least ½ a day, if you’re a quick walker

Flyfishing in Fermanagh

Bonus: Fishing the Lakes of County Fermanagh

  • Tudor Farm Country House B&B ( Near Kesh – just to the east of Boa Island) Proprietors: Sam & Anne McCreery – arranged our fishing guide for us before we arrived and also packed us a lovely lunch.
  • We were very lucky in that we got an extremely knowledgeable guide who was great to talk to. He made the day fun, when it otherwise might have just been dreary, windy and wet.
  • This day highlights a tip that we would give to our listeners…find the things that you like to do or would like to learn to do, and then do those things in Ireland. The day was made that much more special because we were learning something new in such an amazing place.  So, learn to fly fish, to surf, to sea kayak, to paint, to hand throw pottery, to take better photographs.  Find an Irish expert and schedule a lesson while you’re on your vacation!

Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 7:52 pm.


Ep. 27-Part 1-Northern Ireland and Donegal Top 10

In the first half of a two part episode, we talk about some our top 10 places to see in the counties of Northern Ireland and in county Donegal. In no particular order, they are:

Cliffs at Slieve League

1. Slieve League – Take the route via Glengesh pass, it’s worth it for the view. You can park at the lower parking lot or the upper parking lot depending on your fitness level, the weather and how long you have to view the site.

  • If you drive to the upper lot, make sure to close the gate so you don’t let out the sheep.
  • No facilities until you get back down to the bottom of the hill, where there are portable toilets.
  • Make sure to stop at, Ti Linn, the coffee/tea/art shop down the road once you’re finished.  Family-owned and operated business. They have great local art.

Glenveagh Castle

2. Glenveagh National Park

Admission to the National Park and Visitor Centre is free.

  • Bus Tickets

Cars are not allowed beyond the visitor centre however a shuttle bus service is available to take visitors to the castle and gardens.

Adult      3.00 Euro (return)

Concession      2.00 Euro (return)

Single Tickets are available at the Castle for 2 Euro

  • Castle Tour – you can only go through the castle w/ guided tour (~30 min)

Adult      5.00 Euro

Group/Senior  3.00 Euro

Child/Student 2.00 Euro

Family    10.00 Euro

  • Garden Tours

Garden Tours on request: Adult 5 Euro Concession 3 Euro

  • Walks

Ranger-Led Hill Walks and All Other Guided Walks/Visits:

5.00 Euro

All family events and shorter walks run by The Nature Team are free of charge.

  • Hours of operation

The National Park is open to the public all year round, apart from Good Friday and Christmas Week.

Park open 10.00am – 6.00pm March – October

Last admission 5.00pm

9am – 5pm October – March (last admission 4pm)

Those wishing to take the guided tour of Glenveagh Castle should note that during the summer months, demand can be high and, therefore, early arrival is advisable.

Dogs are permitted in the park but must be kept on a lead at all times. Dogs are not permitted entry to buildings, Castle Gardens or park buses. (Guide dogs are permitted in all areas)

The Grianan of Aileach

3. The Grianan of Aileach

  • 5 miles northwest of Derry (in County Donegal) near the base of the Inishowen Peninsula (between Derry and the N13)
  • Views of Loch Foyle and Loch Swilly
  • Where to pick up the Heritage Guide publication before you go.
    • Wordwell Books website has several guides for sale:
    • Wall dimensions – about 16 ½ feet high and diameter is about 77 feet.
    • Constructed in late 8th or early 9th century of dry stone construction and abandoned around the turn of the 12th century.
    • Reconstructed in the 1800s as an archaeological project and modeled on Staigue Fort on the Ring of Kerry.
    • Now under the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW), who are working to further stabilize the walls.
    • No entry fee/no facilities
    • There’s a walking path that will take you to a cairn and a holy well near the stone fort.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

4. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

  • It’s a National Trust site so get your card if you’re going to other National trust sites too.
    • View opening hours on website or in your National Trust Guide (which you’ll get when you get your card) before you go – they vary greatly depending upon time of year. It is open most of the year – weather permitting, with the exception of pretty much the month of December)
    • Admission to the rope bridge is £5.60 for adults, child £2.90, family £13.70/ Prices are the suggested Gift Aid entry fees.

Dunluce Castle

5. Dunluce Castle

  • Parts of the castle date from the 14th century. Most is from the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • After changing hands many times, the castle eventually was awarded to Cromwellian soldiers, who (by 1663) disassembled much of it to sell.  The castle was never returned to its former livable state
  • Hours of admission are generally 10 a.m. to 6 p.m./Admission cost £4 for adults and £2 for children or seniors, maximum £10 for a family (group rates are available)

Ulster American Folk Park

6. Ulster American Folk Park

  • Located just a few miles north of Omagh
  • We were pleasantly surprised – we really didn’t know what to expect from the folk park. The employees working in the various areas of the park were one of the main reasons for our enjoyment.  They’re very knowledgeable and great to talk to!
  • Park open year-‘round
    • Between March and September (when most people from the U.S. are traveling to Ireland), hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      • The museum’s website (at National Museums Northern Ireland) says you should allow about 3 ½ hours to go through all of the exhibits in the main building and areas outside.
      • If you’re the type of person who likes to take their time and really absorb all of the information at the exhibits, you might want to add an hour or an hour and a half to that time.
    • Cost of Admission (Gift Aid Admission Prices)
      • £7.15 Adults, £4.40 Children (age 5-18) & Students & Seniors, Children under 5 free
      • There are concessions for persons with disabilities, and there are family admission packages – they’re listed on the NMNI website for the park

Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 9:07 pm.


Ep. 26 – McPeake Interview

You can’t read a history of traditional music of Northern Ireland without coming across the McPeake name sooner or later. The McPeake family has been influencing traditional music in Ireland and around the world since the mid-1900s and continues its tradition of education and entertainment today.

We had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Frances McPeake III and Frances McPeake IV at Milwaukee Irish Fest, and they gave some insight as to what has gone into the making of this family legacy. You’ll also hear how the family’s path crossed with those of royalty and a member of a famous quartet from Liverpool and why, despite numerous difficulties and setbacks, they feel that it’s of utmost importance to continue to provide traditional music education to children in Ireland today.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of the McPeake family, visit If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of the CD “These Days,” which is mentioned in the podcast, you may order it online at You can also connect with the current McPeake band and hear samples of their music on Facebook at

Posted 6 years, 10 months ago at 8:05 pm.