Fly out of Cornwall Airport Newquay in around an hour to Belfast City Airport and within a few hours you can find yourself on one of the most iconic sites in the world with a man who is internationally recognised for his storytelling abilities. Travel writer Eleanor McGillie chats with the legendary storyteller who is known worldwide as ‘The Causeway Guide’.
YOU’VE guessed it – we are talking about the world-famous Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland which sits at the foot of basalt cliffs along the coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau. It’s a world-renowned site made up of 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. It is a significant site of global geological importance on the seacoast, but, for Mark Rodgers, it’s so much more.
Tourists flock from across the world to sit on the famous basalt columns but it’s storyteller Mark Rogers who brings this site alive.
So, when Aer Lingus announced that flights to and from Cornwall Airport Newquay and George Best Belfast City Airport will run all year round, we thought this would be an amazing opportunity to tell you about this wonderful place which should be on everyone’s travel bucket list regardless of the season.
In his own words, here’s why Mark Rodgers, who wears his heart on his sleeve, encourages travellers from Cornwall Airport Newquay to fly to Belfast and visit the Giant’s Causeway.
“The Giant’s Causeway is my home,” Mark says. “I am emotionally connected to it. It is the one special place in Ireland where I find peace and feel the presence of my ancestors all around me.
“I can get lost here with my thoughts and I am never alone. I love everything about the Giant’s Causeway from the huge visual impact it has on you, to the way it heightens all of your senses. You can feel the cool breeze of the Atlantic, hear the call of the birds and even taste the salt on your lips.
“It has this gift of making you realise that, in the grand scheme of things, you're a part of something much greater than we can fully understand. Most of all, I love the people from the Giant’s Causeway. I am one of them. Our families have lived across this shoreline for centuries, and, out of necessity and days gone by, we have created the tourism industry here on this magical site.
“We have built tramways, hotels, tea rooms, ice cream parlours, souvenir shops, we held markets and fairs and guiding long before people recognise that as a profession.
“The Giant’s Causeway’s reputation was created by us and the standards for hospitality and customer service were set by our ancestors. Time and outside influences, beyond our control, meant that we had to give way to modernisation and conversation, and, as a result, the Causeway lost its soul. The special feeling was gone. The very people who had been the heart of the causeway had left.
“This special community still enjoyed a pride of place and a sense of self-worth. Even when age had weakened them physically, they still shared this love for their home, and a desire that they should not be forgotten.
“With support, we created this tour ‘Dander with Dalriada’. This tour pays homage to their way of life and provides a step back in time to a full period full of entrepreneurship and great characters. Time is not an issue. Stay as long as it takes. When you leave, you will never be a stranger here again. You will feel like you belong here with us. You’ll feel as if you have come home because the Causeway is our canvas, painting pictures with stories is our gift.
“We support the outstanding conservation work of the National Trust. This tour is about our history and our heritage. It pays homage to our ancestors and continues the legacy of some very special men - William John Purdy, his father Alex Purdy and their families, neighbours and friends.
“Many people from Cornwall have been here before. We welcome you back with open arms and give you the same warmth as if you are setting foot on our shores for the first time. You are our Celtic neighbours and there are connections to be made. It’s truly wonderful that Emerald Airlines are flying from Newquay to Belfast and vice versa. I certainly look forward to exploring our Celtic connections together.”
So, pack your bags, book your flights and book the ‘Dander with Dalriada’ tour.