Sunday, 29 June 2008

Northern Ireland - Rathlin island

After Belfast it was off for 2 nights on Rathlin Island , population 70 something. (in 1846 there were 1000 residents, but most left to seek an easier mainland life.)

View of the island from mainland. It is L shaped, about 4 miles east to West, and 3 miles North to South. My accomodation was 3 miles along the west side, resulting in long slogs with heavy bags up steep hills to get there, 3 mile slogs to any shop (which was always closed anyway), and a 3 miles slog back in the heavy rain. Next time I'm staying in the harbour.

The ferry crossing - brrrrrr. The passengers preferred to just sit in the middle with massive splashes drenching then, instead of standing in the shelter of the prow. Silly billies!
3 seas meet off the coast of Rathlin, which can result in dangerous seas, and plenty of shipwrecks litter the seabed.

The harbour, situated in the elbow of the island. On the ferry, a charming scottish ex army man (who has flown a helicopter into Fingals cave!) suggested I get some fish and chips from the caravan in the harbour, and I wasn't disappointed. The fish was the best I ever had!!

A kelp house. Processing kelp used to be the mainstay of the island residents.
The manufacture of kelp in Ireland from the 17th to early 20th centuries provided soda and iodine for industry. It was an immensely important element of coastal and island economies.

The East Lighthouse. This lighthouse is known as being the place which received the first radio broadcast from Guglielmo Marconi, broadcast from across the bay in Ballycastle. Marconi, although born in Italy, was the daughter of Annie Jameson, whose family owned the famous Jameson's brewery.

At the southern tip of the island. A very pleasant spot for a nap, with the baby sea ducks diving, and the seals snorting. i loved this spot, as on the right over the sea you can see Ireland, and just to the left you can see Scotland over the sea - Mull of Kintyre in fact!

Scenery on north side of island. Richard Branson recently crashed into the sea just of the noth coast of Rathlin after his cross Atlantic hot air ballon trip. The seas here get pretty rough, so he was saved and bought to the island, and as thanks he donated £25 000 to restoring the island Manor House.

On the west side of the island is a bird sanctuary. Here we see some sea stacks packed with birds. Puffins, razorbills, kitiwakes and guillemots galore.

An island lough. In Scotland a loch is a loch, but in Ireland, a lough is a lough.
Robert the Bruce once retreated to Rathlin island for a year to escape the British bastards. It was near this lough in his cave that Robert sat and watched a spider patiently rebuild over and over a web between 2 rocks. The determination of the spider gave Robert new hope, and was inspired to go back to Scotland to defeat the Poms at the Battle of Bannockburn, and reclaim the Scottish throne.

I went down the pub for some crack (or craic) with the lovely Fran, staying at my hostel, and volunteering at the bird santuary. Those beasts kept me there till 3:30 in the morning. I'm not used to that sort of thing, you know, resulting in quite the sore throat in the morning!
It was hilarious watching the visiting Irish louts trying to chat Fran up.
The more they drunk, the harder their accents became. Some guy would sit and tell me stories, and I couldn't understand a word. What a treat!

Tom and I. Tom is the charming fellow at the pub and the bird sanctuary, and local wildlife photographer. Check out his pics at
His juvenile shag is fantastic! And I am referring to the bird by the way!

Interesting Seaweed!

A bit of thistle

I think this lady definately suffers from mad cow disease, based on her looks!

Some of the local seals. They have this really uncomfortable way of basking in the sun on rocks, stretching their heads and tails upwards.

Some puffins. ahhh cute! Puffins are good at carrying fish. Did you know the world record is a puffin carrying 62 fish in its mouth at one time! The tongue and palate have special spines to hold the fish.
Puffins also sound like cows! Check out this website to listen to some puffin sounds:


Graeme said...

ah, those pufins are fantastic - i would love to photograph them. when i saw my last puffin, it was 10 years ago and i wasn't into photography.

Graeme said...

that Tom has some great photos on his site - i would have loved to meet him