Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island, lying off Antrim’s Causeway Coast, has a rare, untamed beauty. Amidst the rugged landscape of this isolated island, you can let your mind wander and discover a tranquility and beauty that is so unexpected.

See current plans for Rathlin island.

At the west of the island is the renowned RSPB Seabird Centre, where puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes can be viewed during the summer months. It is also home to some magnificent views, on clear days Donegal, the North Antrim coastline, the island of Islay and the Mull of Kintyre can be seen. Throughout the year special occasions are celebrated with ceilidhs. Music, song and dance remain at the heart of the community life.

Puffin, image by Clive Timmons

Puffin, image by Clive Timmons

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland, with a rising population of now just over 100 people. The reverse L-shaped island is 4 miles (6 km) from east to west, and 2.5 miles (4 km) from north to south. The highest point on the island is Slieveard, 134 metres above sea level. The island is 15.5 miles (25 km) from the Mull of Kintyre, the southern tip of Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula.

Rathlin Island is a Special Area of Conservation in Northern Ireland (SAC), and a Special Protected Area (SPA). It is home to tens of thousands of seabirds, including common guillemotskittiwakespuffins 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 RSPB has also successfully managed natural habitat to facilitate the return of the Red-billed Chough. Northern Ireland’s only breeding pair of choughs can be seen during the summer months. It is also home to seals, golden hares, and other flora and fauna rarely seen on the mainland. There are numerous Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) on the Island – including the Coast, because of the importance to birds, and Kebble, which is also a Nature Reserve, because of the importance of its heathland.

The cliffs on this relatively bare island are impressive, standing 230 feet (70 m) 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 ‘try and try again’! The island is also the northernmost point of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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