Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Visit to Portrush

When I was a child we went on holiday and days out to Portrush, or The Port as we called it, on the north coast of Northern Ireland.  I returned there couple of weeks ago with my sisters and our families to find that some things had changed but much had remained the same.  I was pleased to see that this building the Arcadia, which seemed very glamorous when I was little, has been restored and is now an art gallery, cafe and wedding venue.  I remember going to a 'disco' there in the 70s (What ever happened to discos?) and apparently The Stranglers played here in 1978 supported by The Undertones.  Would like to say that I was there but really I had no idea about this until I googled it a couple of minutes ago.

Don't be fooled by the blue skies - it was fairly chilly the day we visited, as it nearly always was.  But just as we had often braved the freezing Atlantic water, our children - well the smaller ones anyway - were right in there paddling and getting wet as soon as we got onto the beach.  It was really busy too, everyone determined to enjoy themselves and defy the weather. 

After a while on the beach we headed for Barry's Amusement Park, where we spent much of our days on damp Sunday School excursions. I loved it then: my favourite rides were the cyclone and the Ghost Train and I loved playing the arcade games where you could race little horses or win money by making the coins tip over the edge.   I was brave enough to try the Big Dipper roller coaster a few times as a teenager, but was never that keen.  Now there are more rides outside, but my favourites are still there and the Ghost Train doesn't seem to have changed at all in nearly 50 years.  The actor, James Nesbitt, worked there once and seemed to share my memories as you can see on this You Tube clip.  Sadly the man featured in the clip, Colm Quinn, who worked on the Hobby Horses all his life until he was 79, died earlier this year.

I brought my daughter here when she was little and she rode on the hobby horses just like I did.  This time, though, I found it a bit too noisy in Barry's so I left her to take her little cousins on the ghost train and went for a more peaceful walk around Ramore Head with husband and dog.


  1. Revisiting places is strange and fun sometimes. I have a hankering to visit Westward Ho! in Devon where we spent all our childhood holidays, but I worry it would be so much different that I should let it stay as a fantastic place with loads to do in my memory forever, rather than discover it has a different role now.

    I'm glad you enjoyed going back; and I love the idea that the youngsters will be in the water whatever the temperature!

  2. I love seafront buildings like that, they hear ken back to a time when seaside resorts were really rather posh. Good fun to revisit your childhood haunts X

  3. Glad you had a great time and that it was so good! xx

  4. I haven't been to Portrush for years. The Arcadia looks well since it's been done up. I remember many Sunday School trips here (or Bangor or Newcastle) and spending time in Barry's. I loved the roller coaster when I was young but not now!