Rathlin Island is a brilliant place to arrive in Ireland. We entered the marina to the smell of grilling and the sound of happy people at the bar. Shortly after tying up and we were also sat at the pub, enjoying Guinness and listening to the musicians at the next table. Sunset to Irish folk music. There is a festival on at the Island so berthing is two nights for the price of one. Obviously we stayed two nights.
There are three lighthouses on the island. One of them – the East Lighthouse – was open specially for the festival with guided tours by the ex lighthouse keeper Noel. We were the only people there at the appointed time so we had a personal tour and it was amazingly informative. Noel explained everything and added a multitude of anecdotes. A very enjoyable hour and amazing views from the top of the lighthouse.
At the pub we met Elizabeth, a German lady who was moving to the Island to make food from seaweed. Down at the marina Paddy had built a raft with a peat heated bathtub on it. I think it was meant to be “chick bait”and it seemed to be working. We saw at least two ladies bathing in warm water and kelp.
The second day we walked to the West Lighthouse. We didn’t bother with the tour as it was never going to be up to the day before. In beautiful sunshine we enjoyed stunning views and lots of empty Island. After two days we felt like locals. Noel was delivering the mail so we flagged him down for a chat. Elizabeth was loading a van and shouted hello and Paddy blew the horn on his number-plateless car and waved.
The next day we crossed over to Ballycastle on the mainland for a reprovisioning stop. A super friendly harbour master gave us a great berth and filled us up with diesel. Co-op and Spar filled our lockers. And we had traditional fish and chips in the evening.