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Ulster

Belfast Castle, Ulster, Ireland (© Serg Zastavkin - Fotolia.com)
Belfast Castle.
Map of Ulster (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

Introduction

Ulster (Ulaidh in Irish, Ulstèr in Ulster Scots) is the northern province of Ireland. Three of its counties (Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan) belong to the Republic of Ireland, while the six other counties belong to the United Kingdom as part of the region of Northern Ireland.

The vast majority of Ulster's 2.1 million inhabitants live in Northern Ireland (1.8 million), of whom one third live in the Belfast Metropolitan area (pop. 640,000). Most people in Ulster speak English. Irish Gaelic is also fairly common, and is understood at least to some extent by 10% of the population. Ulster Irish is spoken by over half of the population in County Donegal. The Ulster dialects of Scots language (the Germanic language from Lowland Scotland, not the Scottish Gaelic from the Highlands) is spoken by 2% of Northern Ireland residents, principally in County Antrim, but also in parts of County Down and County Londonderry. The language was imported from Lowland Scotland in the 17th century following the Plantation of Ulster, an organised colonisation of lands confiscated to Irish chieftains and given by wealthy landowners, under the supervision of King James VI of Scotland (a.k.a. James I of England).

Ulster was once known for being home to the fiercest warriors of all Ireland. Perhaps that is why Ulster contributed to no less than six Field Marshals of the United Kingdom in the 20th century (Earl Alexander of Tunis, Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd, Sir Claude Auchinleck, Sir John Greer Dill, Sir Alan Francis Brooke, and Viscount Montgomery of El Alamein).

Famous Irish people from Ulster include (chronologically): the American Civil War general Philip Sheridan, the poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh, the Nobel prize poet and playwright Seamus Heaney, the actor Kenneth Branagh, and the singer Enya.

Famous Scots from Ulster include (chronologically): the industrialist (and co-founder of Procter & Gamble) James Gamble, the entrepreneur, banker and lawyer Thomas Mellon, the chemist and physicist Thomas Andrews, the physicist and engineer William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, New Zealand Prime Minister William Massey, the shipbuilder (and designer of the Titanic) Thomas Andrews, Jr., the motorcyclist Joey Dunlop, and the singer Van Morrison.


Attractions

County Antrim

Belfast
Belfast City Hall  (© Josemaria Toscano - iStockphoto.com)
outstanding Belfast

Other attractions

good Dunluce Castle (ruins)
Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway (© acaggese - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Giant's Causeway

County Armagh

very good Armagh

County Cavan

good Cloughoughter Castle (ruins)

County Donegal

Glenveagh National Park
Glenveagh National Park (photo by Michal Osmenda - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)
outstanding Glenveagh National Park
Donegal Castle
Donegal Castle (photo by Benson Wills - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.)
good Donegal Castle (ruins)

County Down

Castle Ward
Castle Ward (photo by Ardfern - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
outstanding Castle Ward
Hillsborough
Hillsborough Castle (photo by VirtuaaliAnu - Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)
outstanding Hillsborough

Other attractions

good Downpatrick

County Fermanagh

Castle Coole
Castle Coole (photo by Andrew Humphreys - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license)
outstanding Castle Coole

Other attractions

very good Marble Arch Caves
Florence Court
Florence Court (photo by Andrew Humphreys - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license)
very good Florence Court

County Londonderry (Derry)

very good Londonderry
good Mussenden Temple & ruins of Downhill House

County Monaghan

very good Castle Leslie Hotel

County Tyrone

good Strabane

Eupedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
  • : Recommended - to visit if you have time
  • : Outstanding place - really deserves to be seen
  • : Best of the country - shouldn't be missed
  • : Best of Europe

Natural attractions

  • : Moderately interesting
  • : Recommended
  • : Highly recommended
  • : World-class natural attraction
  • ※ : UNESCO World Heritage site


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