Ballycastle, Antrim County, Northern Ireland

Ballycastle was named the best place to live in Northern Ireland in a list compiled by The Sunday Times in 2016.

Link here.  77.7% Catholic, with a lovely 18th century church.  The downtown is thriving and intact, with no real signs of hollowing out.  Virtually all of the shops are not major chains.  People seem to be friendly and helpful.

The town sits on water’s edge, with lovely views.


It has one of the most scenic golf courses in Northern Ireland.  Here are further photos, including of the castle.  Here are photos of downtown.


Reasonable, well-ordered homes, only a few minutes drive from the sea, can be had for not much over one hundred thousand pounds sterling.  As my father used to say “What are we waiting for?”

Northern Ireland remains an underrated region.


The unspoken opinion in the UK is that Northern Ireland remains riven by tribal divisions, is rather retrograde in social views and doesn't have much to offer economically other than as a cheap UK location to outsource lower end professional services work. The prospect of NI uniting with Ireland appears to elicit much less angst than Scotland going it alone.

It is a pity, I am generally a fan of underappreciated parts of the country.

Uniting with Ireland sounds like a win-win then.

Thanks for the interesting insider perspective. Comments like this are what makes this section worth reading.

is rather retrograde in social views

I.e. retains standards of modesty and decency while the Republic entertains the world with this:

Bally - town or townland. Ballycastle: town of the castle. Ballyrema (nearby): town of the middle, or middle town. The Troubles in Ballycastle (a/k/a The Troubles in Northern Ireland).

Beautiful! Tempting, but I'm pretty complacent right now.

Agreed. Not sure why Tyler went all the way to Ireland when he could be relaxing at home watching the NCAA tourney...

Even if you weren't complacent, if you moved to a charming, cozy little town like that, wouldn't complacency become quite a temptation.

So can I get Fox news on the Telly? I just happen to have an extra hundred thousand pounds sterling sitting around and this place looks great.

I just meant there's nothing wrong with being "settled," for lack of a better term, even if it dumps you into Tyler's dreaded Complacent Class. Settling down is typically a healthy goal to have, contributes to family formation, and probably has benefits for any children one might have or hope to have.

Presumably there are limited employment opportunities in the region. It's too far from either Belfast or Londonderry/Derry to commute.

It's also cold.

High of around 50 each of the next 10 days in mid/late March. Cold?

Having been there numerous times i concur that Ireland is not exactly warm and balmy. However it is a nice country and the people are very enjoyable.

They were enjoyable until they started fellating each other in public places and showering honors on the likes of Mary Robinson.

There is a reason why Ireland was called Hibernia by the Romans, but it does not have to do with low temperatures as such. Nonetheless, Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium in the Rhineland undoubtedly has lower temperatures in the winter, but equally undoubtedly, warmer temperatures in the summer.

It's milder than the Eastern U.S., but a winter of 40 degree rainy weather does not feel warmer. And keep in mind that the summer is 60 degrees and rainy. March, however, is often some of the nicest weather of the year.

Not too bad given that it's only 3 degrees latitude south of Juneau.

It's interesting that after looking at the first photo the 1st thing that comes to mind

"What are we waiting for?" Perhaps that the global warming changes the climate in Northern Ireland to "Mediterranean".

At least this is true for me: I find Ireland (and also most of Scotland) beautiful and it would be a nice place to live and work, but I am afraid of the rains and relative cold, and grey skies.

I feel the same way about Portland OR

Fair point, but irrelevant to topic.

i felt the same way when i visited. my view of the place was shaped by 1980s hollywood depictions of violent place. what i didn't realize is NI was traditionally the wealthiest part of ireland and you can feel that when you're there. things are quite nice, orderly, sparse, and pleasant.

Weber's Theory.

Best restaurants in Ireland? Irish stew (mutton!), Shepherd's Pie, and such don't strike me as Cowen's favorites. I googled "good restaurants in Ireland" and though the list is short (and I mean short) there's a Moroccan restaurant and a Korean restaurant on the list. Wikipedia's entry for Irish Cuisine has this classic sentence: "By the 21st century, much of Irish cuisine was being revived."

Ireland's main ethnic minorities are British, Polish and Lithuanian. This is, put charitably, not the best starting point for exciting fusion cuisine.

Au contraire! There are many great dishes that combine potatoes, potatoes, potatoes, and potatoes.

Basically all the downtowns in Ireland look like that. And while the shops aren't chains, most of them tend not to be that nice. A lot of the merchandise is subpar, and a lot of the shops are pubs, betting shops and the like. Everything is also more expensive, and if you talk to people in any pub you'll find that most people have themselves or have friends and family who have gone abroad for work.

You're good and goddamned right:

Look at that, the cars are facing the wrong way, it's madness! And where are the persons of colour?

Tyler hangs in Puerto Rico, too, though I don't recall if he found everything "lovely."

People mock the Fifties, but they still want to live there.

White, Christian, conservative, small town. Endorsed by MR's readership. Sort of like Selma was.

I know, it's like people completely fail to see the bright side of crime and illegitimacy.

These days, though, the pictures don't include the armed British patrols, like in 1980.

Selma was biracial, with a resident population split 50-50. It was the voter roll which was 99% white, due to administrative chicanery.

If one can handle that it's 40-65F year-round, has incredible winds and rains 200+ days a year... yes, Ireland is a great place to live. Assuming you can find a job.

6.6% unemployment right now. Also GDP growth of >5% if I remember right.

For Ireland, not sure if you meant that or NI.

I saw a stat along the lines that two-thirds of the time the earth is covered in clouds. As my dad used to say, the best place is where your sweetheart is, in my case the Philippines. Weather-wise, having traveled to dozens of countries and lived in four for over a year, I think Hawaii has the best climate, followed by California, Greece, DC area (four seasons, snow on the ground now, nice), Thailand, and last but not least, the Philippines, where it rains more than in Portland (it pretty much rains 10 months out of the year in most places there).

As for work, who needs that? Just live off your capital (parents) as in my case. And if you believe in Alvin Toffler we'll all be telecommuting soon, or on a Universal Minimum Income where robots will do our work. Hence TC is right, Ireland is underrated, and global warming will make it 'nicer' in some ways.

The economy in NI isn't great to begin with, and would be hit hard if border posts are going up with Brexit.

Also, you wouldn't want any of this stuff from the Wikipedia page coming back:

Loyalist paramilitaries left a car bomb outside the Roman Catholic church (St. Patrick's & St. Brigid's) in the town on 26 August 1973. It was timed to explode as massgoers left the church. But the service ran late, and the bomb detonated when the congregation were still inside the church, avoiding large-scale loss of life. 50 people were injured, 3 of them seriously.

On 19 June 1979 the Irish Republican Army bombed five hotels in different seaside towns in Northern Ireland, including Ballycastle's Marine Hotel. William Whitten, a 65-year-old Protestant hotel guest, was seriously injured in the blast; he died three weeks later.

Spence McGarry (46), an off duty member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), was killed when a Provisional Irish Republican Army booby trap bomb attached to his car exploded in Castle Street car park, Ballycastle on 6 April 1991. Gerard Butler was convicted in 1993 for the attack, and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In 2001, there was an attempt at mass murder by the Ulster Volunteer Force when a car bomb was left in Castle Street during the annual Lammas Fair.

Cheer up, the USA funded only half the terrorists. Rather like Syria, come to think of it.

Did the British not fund the other side?

The members of the Ulster Defense Association and Ulster Volunteer Force were, like the majority in Ulster, patriotic British. The insufferable snotnoses in the UK live in greater London and in college towns like Oxford.

The USA funded nothing. A five-digit population of Noraid contributors (not a few of them Irish expats) funded them.

GDP per capita in Northern Ireland is lower than in any region of the Republic of Ireland. The poorest part of London is richer than the richest part of Northern Ireland.

Unemployment is well above the national average and wages are well below the national average.

Northern Ireland get about £2 back for every £ it pays in taxes.

Total GDP of Northern Ireland is around £40 billion. Net fiscal transfers amount to just over £9 billion/year.

NI might be lovely but it's not pulling its own weight and could bankrupt the Republic of Ireland if they attempted a full union.

Ulster is more affluent than Wales.

The Catholic population of Ulster is ambivalent about a united Ireland and the protestant population is dead set against it, so it's not happening unless the prime minister's chair falls into the lap of Jeremy Corbyn and he manages to shove it down everyone's throat.

This post shows you "get" touring Ireland. A stop with no significant historical or cultural sites or 5-star hotel or 3-star restaurant and yet one falls in love.

It seems beautiful, but it is not São Paulo, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, Belém, Salvador, Natal.

I'd like to take a guided tour of the Brazilian favelas one day.

Brazil has also universities, beaches, restaurants, bookstores, factories, schools, literary academies, bars and churches. Brazil has everything to please the most demanding souls.

The football ain't much to watch, either.

Indeed, it is sad.

No one says "Antrim County" (or, as in an earlier post, "Donegal County.") Always the other way 'round. Complacent class.

It would be cultural appropriation for Tyler to say "County Antrim".

No it wouldn't, any more than if Prof. Cowen referred to the political party that is for Irish unification as 'Sinn Féin' instead of using the English 'We ourselves.'

Good point. I retract my totally serious comment, which was definitely not intended as a joke.

prior is almost as humorless as Art Deco. Almost.

The cliff at the end of the beautiful view also happens to be Fair Head, a world class rock climbing location.

It doesn't look very diverse. How do they cook their food, mow their lawns, take care of their children, and avoid crime?

My people (the ones that didn't starve) came to America during the Famine. Evidently, the best of the breed had the cojones to leave. .

Overall, the Irish are just like everyone else except more handsome, more happy, more intelligent.

When they're not drunk.

Even when they are.

Ha ha ha. You never met some of my relatives.

Sure, it looks great, on the four or five days a year it gets sunshine.

Northern Ireland illustrates what happens when white folks learn how to discriminate against other white folks on the basis religion.

When we visited Northern Ireland I remember the separate bars, the neighborhoods that were divided by religion, but most importantly the separate schools (Catholic schools and protestant public schools), each with their own soccer team, who battled each other on the field.

I have a dream that one day on the green hills of Northern Ireland the sons of Protestants and the sons of Catholics will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Fat chance

Why? I've seen the Promised Land.

Soccer? So there is progress! They are finally coming together.

Because back in the day, the Irish would excommunicate (in a social, and sometimes in a religious sense) anyone who played the Evil Anglo-Saxon sport. It wasn't until 2007 that they allowed a rugby match to be played in Croke park.

What about ? And, actually, "soccer", almost as it played today, was invented by Brazilian Natives. They used latex ball and played the game with their heads.

George Best was Protestant and went away as a teenager to play for Manchester United. He made suitable noises about wanting to play for an all-Ireland team if such a thing were to exist, but never gave the impression of someone who had much time for international football in any event. Football (aka soccer) is a divided sport in NI, traditionally dominated by Protestants. Gaelic is the major game for Catholics in NI, with football (aka soccer) second, but they generally support the Republic of Ireland at international level, not the Northern Ireland team. Ireland is unified in all other sports as far as I'm aware. Rugby is a sport largely played by the more upscale Protestant middle class who are ok with going to Dublin for Irish rugby games (the Ireland rugby team features players from North and South and always has done).

But didn't he play for Northern Ireland?

What, they've discovered evidence of linesmen?

Even today the natives play the game in All-Natives Cups. They played the game before the Portuguese invader came.

Strange as it may seem to you, people in different religious confessions have distinct school curricula (if the school is what it claims to be).

How can one not love the Irish. Allowing Apple et al. to hide billions, billions, in tax avoidance schemes for which the Irish gain little. The irony of the Irish, who have always chafed at their betters in England looking down on them, allowing their betters in America to take advantage of them.

I don't know. If they had played hard to get, they would have seen no money. At least, they got some of the loot.

Umm. Are we sure it is not the Northern Irish Potemkin Village??

"""(Northern) Ireland's Big Lie: The Real Potemkin Village"""

"""just pretend nothing’s wrong by remodeling storefronts long since abandoned just as you would in a Hollywood set. What about those pesky abandoned buildings and other eyesores of blight and destitution? No problem, just place colorful murals in front of them."""

More pics,'northern+ireland'+'potemkin+village'

Oh. This is a good one.

"""FLAVOUR OF TYRONE, VIRTUAL TRAVEL AGENTS - Main Street — Fivemiletown (Northern Ireland)"""

I suspect Tyler's trip is coming to a close, but for anybody taking a trip to Ireland I think reading some of Thackeray's "The Irish Sketchbook" can be interesting.

It's a travel book written in 1842, just before the famine. Ireland was a very different place back then and I thought the contrast was striking.

Cousin married a guy from there. Talented fellow. Ph.D comp sci. They're living in New Zealand now, along with two of his sisters. All the smart ones left.

The prices are low for a reason.

But yeah, gorgeous place to spend a day.

Domestic product per capita in New Zealand is about 1/3 less than that in the United States (and about 12% below that in the UK). Gross value added per capita in Ulster is about 28% below national means. If they're so smart, why are they in New Zealand and not in Bristol?

I assume because his family lives there.

The town's golf course isn't world class but it's pretty affordable for a links with maybe a half mile of sea frontage.

Playing golf through sand dunes next to the ocean is common in Northern Ireland but it's quite rare in the U.S. In California, for example, I can think of only 16 golf courses that have any holes on the ocean.

In Scotland and England, seaside golf courses usually often don't have much of a view of the sea because the line of sand dunes along the shore blocks the view.

Irish courses tend to have more spectacular views of the ocean because the land tends to slope more down toward the sea. This isn't a general rule, but it's true enough to mean that Ireland probably has the most scenic golf courses in the world. My impression is that it's like one big Monterey Peninsula.

Have you golfed the "sea"-side courses around Lake Michigan, like Whistling Straits or Arcadia Bluffs, and if so, how do they compare?

I wrote up a long review of Pete Dye's Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in 1999, but I don't see it online.

In summary: the Kohler family paid a fortune to reproduce an Irish course on two miles of Lake Michigan bluff using immense amounts of trucked in sand to build artificial dunes. (Because the prevailing winds blow from west to east across Lake Michigan, the natural sand dunes, like Sleeping Bear, are on the other side of the lake in Michigan.)

It's an amazing accomplishment.

I thought it was a little too perfect in a Blank Slate sort of way, although that's a picky criticism. With something like 500 sand traps, Whistling Straits is peak maximalism in style, and I think that will eventually go out of fashion.

The irony is that golf emerged on sand dunes in places like St. Andrews, Scotland because the only economic use of the poor soil was grazing sheep. So golf started out as a fairly cheap game because there wasn't much else to do with the linksland in Scotland.

Greens fees at Whistling Straits, however, start out at $410 because of the immense cost of building artificial sand dunes to look like the kind of natural ones that are in surplus all over the British Isles.

Here's a video of Whistling Straits in Wisconsin:

25 years ago this was just flat farmland, an airstrip in fact, edged by a 60 foot high lake cliff.

It's really the summit of trends in later 20th Century golf architecture.

"Reasonable, well-ordered homes, only a few minutes drive from the sea,..."

I don't think they're ever going to make it to the sea, when they're driving on the wrong side of the road.

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