Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Infobox UK place
official_name= Rathlin Island
irish_name= Reachlainn
local_name= Raghery

static_image_caption=Rathlin Island Ferry at Ballycastle
map_type= Northern Ireland
latitude= 55.292132
longitude= -6.191685
belfast_distance= 47 miles
population= 75 (2001 Census)
irish_grid_reference= D134518
unitary_northern_ireland= Moyle District
country= Northern Ireland
post_town= Ballycastle
postcode_area= BT
postcode_district= BT54
dial_code= 028 207
constituency_westminster= North Antrim
lieutenancy_northern_ireland= County Antrim
website= [http://www.northantrim.com/rathlin_island.htm]

Rathlin Island (Irish and Scottish Gaelic: "Reachlainn", also "Reachra" in Scottish Gaelic) is an island off the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and is the northernmost point of the region. Six miles (10 km) from the mainland, Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland, and is the most northerly inhabited island off the Irish coast. The L-shaped island is 4 miles (7 km) from east to west, and 2.5 miles (4 km) from north to south. Rathlin is located only 15.5 miles (25 km) from the Mull of Kintyre, the southern tip of Scotland's Kintyre peninsula. It is part of the Moyle District Council area.

A ferry (operated by Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd connects the main port of the island, Church Bay, with the mainland at Ballycastle, 6 miles (9.7 km) away. Two ferries operate on the route - a fast passenger only ferry and M.V Canna which carries foot passengers and a small number of vehicles. Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd won a six-year contract for the service in 2008 providing it as a subsidised "lifeline" service.

Natural History

Rathlin is one of forty-three Special Areas of Conservation in Northern Ireland. It is home to tens of thousands of seabirds, including kittiwakes, puffins and razorbills – about thirty bird families in total. It is a popular place for birdwatchers, with a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve offering spectacular views of Rathlin’s bird colony. The cliffs on this relatively bare island are impressive, standing 230 ft (70 metres) tall. Bruce's Cave is named after Robert the Bruce, also known as Robert I of Scotland: it was here that he was said to have seen the famous spider. The island is also the northernmost point of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [ [http://www.ehsni.gov.uk/landscape/designated-areas/aonb/aonb_antrimglen.htm Environment and Heritage Service] ] .

Recently the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom and the Marine Institute of Ireland undertook bathymetric survey work in the area north of County Antrim, updating Admiralty charts (Joint Irish Bathmetric Survey Project). In doing so a number of interesting submarine geological features were identified around Rathlin Island, including a submerged crater or lake on a plateau with clear evidence of water courses feeding it. This suggests the events leading to inundation - subsidence of land or rising water levels - were extremely quick. Marine investigations in the area have also identified new species of anemone, rediscovered the fan mussel (the UK's largest and rarest bivalve mollusc - thought to be found only in Plymouth Sound and a few sites off the west of Scotland) and a number of shipwreck sites.

A video of the seabed survey may be found here: http://www.vnrs.co.uk/mca/video/rathlin.wmv

BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7532771.stm


Rathlin was the site of the first Viking raid on Ireland, according to the Annals of Ulster. The raid, marked by the pillaging of the island's church and the burning of its buildings, took place in 795.

Rathlin was the site of an infamous in July 1575, when the Earl of Essex ordered a force to the island, led by Francis Drake and John Norreys. The English killed hundreds of the women and children of Clan MacDonnell, who had taken refuge there. [John Sugden, "Sir Francis Drake", Touchstone-book, published Simon+Schuster, New York,ISBN 0-671-75863-2] [ [http://www.standingstones.com/fdrake.html Brief mention of the massacre] ]

In 1642 Covenanter Campbell soldiers of the Argyll's Foot were encouraged by their commanding officer Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck to kill the local Catholic MacDonalds, near relatives of their arch Clan enemy in the Scottish Highlands Clan MacDonald, this they did with ruthless efficiency throwing scores of MacDonald women over cliffs to their deaths on rocks below.Harvard reference| Surname1 = Royle | Given1 = Trevor| authorlink = | Year = 2004 | Title = Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 | Publisher = London: Abacus | ISBN = 0-349-11564-8 p.143] [ [http://macdonnellofleinster.org/page_4g__carolingian_era.htm The Carolingian Era] , [http://macdonnellofleinster.org/ macdonnellofleinster.org] . Retrieved 28 August 2008] The number of victims of this massacre has been put as low as 100 and as high as 3,000.

The world's first commercial wireless telegraphy link was established by employees of Guglielmo Marconi between East Lighthouse on this island to Kenmara House in Ballycastle on 6 July 1898. [ [http://www.northantrim.com/Marconi.htm northantrim.com] - Guglielmo Marconi 1874-1937]

More recently, Richard Branson crashed his hot air balloon into the sea off Rathlin Island in 1987 after his record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight from Maine.

The island formerly boasted a population of around one thousand, but its current winter population is around seventy-five. This is swelled by visitors in the summer, most come to view the cliffs and their huge sea bird populations. Many visitors come for the day, and the island has around thirty beds for overnight visitors. The visitors' centre at Church Bay is open from May to August, with minibus tours and bicycle hire available. The island is also popular with scuba divers, who come to explore the many wrecked ships in the surrounding waters.

Rathlin Island's dialect of Irish is now extinct, but was in many respects closer to Scottish Gaelic in some of its features than much of Irish, particularly the Munster dialects (see Ulster Irish).

Recently, the RNLI Portrush lifeboat, the 'Katie Hannan' grounded itself after a large swell hit the rear end of the vessel on breakwater rocks just outside the harbour on Rathlin while trying to refloat an islander's RIB. The lifeboat has now been handed over to an outside salvage company.



* [http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/town_Home.aspx?co=16&to=352&ca=0&sca=0&navID=1 Culture Northern Ireland]

ee also

* Conservation in the United Kingdom

External links

* [http://www.antrim.net/rathlin/ Antrim.net's page on Rathlin]
* [http://www.thenorthernirelandguide.co.uk/2006/02/20/the-observer-lists-rathlin-island-as-one-of-europes-best-secret-islands/ The Northern Ireland Guide: Check Out Our information on Rathlin Island and many other attractions]
* [http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/r/rathlin/index.asp The RSPB's Rathlin Cliffs nature reserve]
* [http://www.thenorthernirelandguide.co.uk/2006/02/20/the-observer-lists-rathlin-island-as-one-of-europes-best-secret-islands/ The Northern Ireland Guide: For information on and pictures of Rathlin Island]
* [http://www.raghery.com/ Basic information about Rathlin]
* [http://www.rathlinballycastleferry.com [http://www.libraryireland.com/sketches/rathlin.php Sketches of Olden Days in Northern Ireland]
* [http://www.northcoastcottages.com North Coast Cottages Accommodation]
* [http://www.geographyinaction.co.uk/Assets/Photo_albums/Eleven/pages/Rathlin.html Photograph of Rathlin]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/ni/landscapes Landscapes Unlocked] - Aerial footage from the BBC "Sky High" series explaining the physical, social and economic geography of Northern Ireland.
* [http://www.andymcinroy.com/5port6.htm Rathlin Sea Caves] - A photographic study of the sea caves of Rathlin, shedding new light on the possible location of Bruce's Cave.

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