The tiny community of Cultra is a wealthy suburb located just east of Holywood and is about five miles from central Belfast. As you drive along the tree-lined roads you will sometimes get a glimpse of the stately mansions set way back from the inquisitive eyes of passersby. Cultra is the home of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. And it is also where you will find a five-star luxury hotel called the Culloden Estate and Spa, considered by many to be the best hotel in all of Northern Ireland.
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Bill Clinton stayed here when he visited Northern Ireland in the 90s for the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Tiger Woods stays here when he visits Northern Ireland to play a little golf. And we stayed here on our two previous visits to Northern Ireland but not this time. It’s really not within walking distance to all the places we wanted to see and so we chose the Holiday Inn in central Belfast instead. The Culloden was also a tad beyond our budget this time. It is ranked by TripAdvisor as #12 of 50 hotels in Greater Belfast, probably because it is so expensive.
Needless to say, we were impressed with the landscaping and statuary we encountered on the Culloden’s grounds. These pictures were taken around 9:30pm on the second day of Summer.
There was also some art exhibited inside the hotel, including works by Warhol, Picasso and Banksy. I took some photos of Banksy’s paintings that were displayed in the hotel’s main lounge and will show them in my next posting.
Bonus — When You and I were Young, Maggie
The song was written by a Canadian named George Washington Johnson in 1864 to his wife Maggie. George’s poem is about two lovers growing old together but it didn’t happen with George and Maggie. She died in 1865 at the age of 23. George’s poem was set to music by James Austin Butterfield in 1866 and has been sung all over the world by the likes of John McCormick, Jan Peerce, Perry Como, Gene Autry, Bing Crosby and his son Gary. It has also been recorded by Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, De Danann, James Galway with The Chieftains, and The Statler Brothers. In 1926 Sean O’Casey used the song in his play The Plough and the Stars but he changed the name to Nora because the character in the play was singing it to his wife Nora. Johnny McEvoy used the name Nora in his number one hit of 1968. This version by Foster and Allen reached number one in New Zealand and number six in Ireland in 1983. Mick Foster was born in County Kildare in 1947. Tony Allen was born in County Westmeath in 1952. The duo started playing together 40 years ago and are still playing.
My grandmother’s name was Margaret and we called her Nana but all of her friends and family called her Maggie. I think of her whenever I hear this song. Nana was born in Virginia City, Nevada in 1871 to Irish immigrant parents. Her mother Bessie was born in Sheegorey, County Roscommon and her father Tom came from Ballycopeland in County Down. I never knew my grandfather who died three years before I was born but my grandmother lived until 1967 when I was 27 and she was 95.