Northern Ireland is a land of living stories. Here, many great writers have been inspired by their surroundings to create some of literatures most enduring locations. And visiting their real-world counterparts, it’s easy to see why.
Let’s start in Belfast
. Pull on those hiking boots and start climbing Cave Hill. It’s here that Jonathan Swift found sights that would influence his epic story, Gulliver’s Travels. When he was young, Swift imagined the rocky outcrop that overlooks the city, known locally as Napoleon’s Nose, as a sleeping giant. This lasting image would go on serve as the inspiration behind the character of Gulliver himself.
Descend into the city, then, and visit the red brick promenades and tree-lined courtyards of Queen’s University Belfast. This is where Seamus Heaney, Poet Laureate and Nobel Prize winner, studied and taught his craft. Not far away, the Seamus Heaney Homeplace
in County Londonderry
provides an insight into the life and inspiration behind some of his most famous works.
Finally, in to the mountains – the Mourne Mountains to be exact – in County Down
. These served as the inspiration for Belfast-man CS Lewis’ legendary fantasy world, Narnia. Looking out over the tranquil Carlingford Lough, Lewis drew his inspiration for the world of Aslan and the Pevensie children – he felt that “at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.” When you’re in the Mournes, surrounded by snow and looking out over the misty valleys of Northern Ireland, you can easily imagine the White Witch rearing her head, ready to tempt you with Turkish delight…