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True-color ESA Sentinel-2 image of Rathlin Island
|Irish grid reference|
|• Belfast||47 mi (76 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Website||Rathlin Development & Community Association's official website|
Rathlin Island (from Irish : Reachlainn, [ˈɾˠaxlən̪ʲ] ) is an island and civil parish off the coast of County Antrim (of which it is part) in Northern Ireland. It is Northern Ireland's northernmost point.
Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland, with a steadily growing population of approximately 150 people, and is the most northerly inhabited island off the coast of the island of Ireland. The reverse L-shaped Rathlin Island is 4 miles (6 kilometres) from east to west, and 2+1⁄2 miles (4 kilometres) from north to south.
The highest point on the island is Slieveard, 134 metres (440 feet) above sea level. Rathlin is 15+1⁄2 miles (25 kilometres) from the Mull of Kintyre, the southern tip of Scotland's Kintyre peninsula. It is part of the Causeway Coast and Glens council area, and is represented by the Rathlin Development & Community Association.
Rathlin is part of the traditional barony of Cary (around the town of Ballycastle), and of current district Moyle. The island constitutes a civil parish and is subdivided into 22 townlands:
|Carravinally (Corravina Beg)||116||...|
|Kinramer South (Kinramer)||173||...|
|Rathlin||3388 (1371 ha)||...|
The Irish language was originally spoken on Rathlin Island until around the 1960s and was perhaps the main community language until the early 20th century. As it is located between the Irish and Scottish mainland, the dialect found on Rathlin shared many features of both languages while also being unique in structure and grammar, e.g. forming plurals with -án or -eán (/ɑːnˠ/) doing away with inflection for weak nouns and suffixes for strong ones.
In addition, the phonology of the dialect was quite divergent, compare "íorbáll" /ˈiɾˠbˠɑlˠ/ with Standard Irish "eireaball" /ˈɛɾʲəbˠəlˠ/ and Scottish Gaelic "earball" /ˈɛɾəpəl/.
A ferry operated by Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd connects the main port of the island, Church Bay, with the mainland at Ballycastle, 6 miles (10 kilometres) away. Two ferries operate on the route – the fast foot-passenger-only catamaran ferry Rathlin Express and a purpose-built larger ferry, commissioned in May 2017, Spirit of Rathlin, which carries both foot passengers and a small number of vehicles, weather permitting. Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd won a six-year contract for the service in 2008 providing it as a subsidised "lifeline" service. There is an ongoing investigation on how the transfer was handled between the Environment Minister and the new owners.
Rathlin is of prehistoric volcanic origin, having been created as part of the British Tertiary Volcanic Province.
Rathlin is one of 43 Special Areas of Conservation in Northern Ireland. It is home to tens of thousands of seabirds, including common guillemots, kittiwakes, puffins and razorbills – about thirty bird families in total. It is visited by birdwatchers, with a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve that has 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.
The cliffs on this relatively bare island are impressive, standing 70 metres (230 ft) 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 legendary spider which is described as inspiring Bruce to continue his fight for Scottish independence. The island is also the northernmost point of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In 2008-09, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom and the Marine Institute Ireland undertook bathymetric survey work north of Antrim, updating Admiralty charts (Joint Irish Bathymetric 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 sea 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,including HMS Drake, which was torpedoed and sank just off the island in 1917.
The island has been settled at least as far back as the Mesolithic period.A Neolithic stone axe factory featuring porcellanite stone is to be found in Brockley, a cluster of houses within the townland of Ballygill Middle. It is similar to a stone axe factory found at Tievebulliagh mountain on the nearby mainland coast. The products of these two axe factories, which cannot be reliably distinguished from each other, were traded across Ireland; these were the most important Irish stone axe sources of their time.
In 2006, an ancient burial was discovered when a driveway was being expanded by the island's only pub, dating back to the early Bronze Age, ca. 2000 BCE. Genomic analysis of DNA from the bodies showed a strong continuity with the genetics of the modern Irish population and established that the continuity of Irish population dates back at least 1000 years longer than had previously been understood.
There is also an unexcavated Viking vessel in a mound formation.
Rathlin was probably known to the Romans, Pliny referring to "Reginia" and Ptolemy to "Rhicina" or "Eggarikenna". In the 7th century, Adomnán mentions "Rechru" and "Rechrea insula", which may also have been early names for Rathlin. – Arran, Islay and 'Racha'" – another possible early variant.The 11th century Irish version of the Historia Brittonum states that the Fir Bolg "took possession of Man and of other islands besides
Rathlin was the site of the first Viking raid on Ireland, according to the Annals of Ulster. The pillaging of the island's church and burning of its buildings took place in 795.
In 1306, Robert the Bruce sought refuge upon Rathlin, owned by the Irish Bissett family. He stayed in Rathlin Castle, originally belonging to their lordship the Glens of Antrim. The Bissetts were dispossessed of Rathlin by the English, who were in control of the Earldom of Ulster, for welcoming Bruce. In the 16th century, the island came into the possession of the MacDonnells of Antrim.
Rathlin has been the site of a number of massacres. On an expedition in 1557, Sir Henry Sidney devastated the island. In July 1575, the Earl of Essex sent Francis Drake and John Norreys to confront Scottish refugees on the island, and in the ensuing massacre, hundreds of men, women and children of Clan MacDonnell were killed. [ citation needed ]Also 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. They threw scores of MacDonald women over cliffs to their deaths on rocks below. The number of victims of this massacre has been put as low as 100 and as high as 3,000.
On 2 October 1917, the armoured cruiser HMS Drake was torpedoed off the northern Irish coast by German submarine U-79. She steamed into Church Bay on Rathlin Island, where, after her crew was taken off, she capsized and sank.[ citation needed ]
In 1746, the island was purchased by the Reverend John Gage.In the later 18th century, kelp production became important, with Rathlin becoming a major centre for production. The shoreline is still littered with kilns and storage places. This was a commercial enterprise sponsored by the landlords of the island and involved the whole community.
A 19th-century British visitor to the island found that they had an unusual form of government where they elected a judge who sat on a "throne of turf".In fact, Robert Gage was the "proprieter of the island" until his death in 1891. Gage held a master's degree from Trinity College, Dublin, but he spent his life on the island creating his book "The Birds of Rathlin Island".
Tourism is now a commercial activity. The island had a population of over one thousand in the 19th century. Its current permanent population is around 125. This is swollen by visitors in the summer, with most coming to view the cliffs and their huge seabird populations. Many visitors come for the day, and the island has around 30 beds for overnight visitors. The Boathouse Visitors' Centre at Church Bay is open seven days a week from April to September, with minibus tours and bicycle hire also available. The island is also popular with scuba divers, who come to explore the many wrecked ships in the surrounding waters.
Richard Branson crashed his hot air balloon into the sea off Rathlin Island in 1987 after his record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight from Maine.
On 29 January 2008, the RNLI Portrush lifeboat Katie Hannan grounded after a swell hit its stern on breakwater rocks just outside the harbour on Rathlin while trying to refloat an islander's RIB. The lifeboat was handed over to a salvage company.
The world's first commercial wireless telegraphy link was established by employees of Guglielmo Marconi between East Lighthouse on Rathlin and Kenmara House in Ballycastle on 6 July 1898.
In July 2013, BT installed a high-speed wireless broadband pilot project to a number of premises, the first deployment of its kind anywhere in the UK, 'wireless to the cabinet' (WTTC) to deliver 80 Mb/s to users.
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 3,046 square kilometres (1,176 sq mi) and has a population of about 618,000. County Antrim has a population density of 203 people per square kilometre or 526 people per square mile. It is also one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland, as well as part of the historic province of Ulster.
Ballycastle is a small seaside town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is on the north-easternmost coastal tip of Ireland, in the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The harbour hosts the ferry to Rathlin Island, which can be seen from the coast. The Ould Lammas Fair is held each year in Ballycastle on the last Monday and Tuesday of August. Ballycastle is the home of the Corrymeela Community.
Sorley Boy MacDonnell, also spelt as MacDonald, Scoto-Irish chief, was the son of Alexander MacDonnell, lord of Islay and Kintyre (Cantire), and Catherine, daughter of the Lord of Ardnamurchan, both in Scotland. MacDonnell is best known for establishing the MacDonnell clan in Antrim, Ireland, and resisting the campaign of Shane O'Neill and the English crown to expel the clan from Ireland. Sorley Boy's connection to other Irish Catholic lords was complicated, but also culturally and familiarly strong: for example, he married Mary O'Neill the daughter of Conn O'Neill. He is also known in English as Somerled and Somerled of the yellow hair.
The Irish language is a recognised minority language in Northern Ireland. The dialect spoken there is known as Ulster Irish. Protection for the Irish language in Northern Ireland stems largely from the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
The Mull of Kintyre is the southwesternmost tip of the Kintyre Peninsula in southwest Scotland. From here, the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland is visible on a calm and clear day, and a historic lighthouse, the second commissioned in Scotland, guides shipping in the intervening North Channel. The area has been immortalised in popular culture by the 1977 hit song "Mull of Kintyre" by Kintyre resident Paul McCartney's band of the time, Wings.
Moyle District Council was a local council in County Antrim in the northeast of Northern Ireland. It merged with Ballymoney Borough Council, Coleraine Borough Council and Limavady Borough Council in May 2015 under local government reorganisation to become Causeway Coast and Glens District Council.
Sanda Island is a small island in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, off the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula, near Southend and Dunaverty Castle.
North Antrim is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The current MP is Ian Paisley Jr of the DUP.
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below. The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. In 2018, the bridge had 485,736 visitors. The bridge is open all year round and people may cross it for a fee.
The Battle of Glentaisie, was a battle between the native Ulster Irish and Scottish settlers the MacDonnell's fought in the north of Ulster on 2 May 1565. The result was a victory for Shane O'Neill over the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg. The conflict was a part of the political and military struggle, involving the English and occasionally the Scots, for control of northern Ireland. Although the MacDonalds were a Scottish family, based principally on the island of Islay in the Hebrides, they had long been associated with the Gaelic polity rather than the Kingdom of Scotland.
Murlough Bay in County Antrim, Northern Ireland is a bay on the north coast of Northern Ireland between Fair Head and Torr Head. It is known for its outstanding beauty and remote location, with close views of Rathlin Island and views across the sea to the Mull of Kintyre, Islay, Jura and various other Scottish islands. The local geology is typical of the Antrim topography with basalt overlaying sandstone and limestone. The area has many kilns used in the production of lime.
Tievebulliagh is a 402-metre-high (1,319 ft) mountain in the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland. It forms part of the watershed between Glenaan to the north and Glenballyemon to the south. It is situated about 4.4 km from Cushendall.
The Rathlin Island massacre took place on Rathlin Island, off the coast of Ireland on 26 July 1575, when more than 600 Scots and Irish were killed.
The Antrim Coast and Glens is an area of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1988.
MV Canna is a car ferry built for Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) in 1975. She spent 21 years in various locations on the west of Scotland and 20 years at Rathlin Island, Northern Island, before moving to Arranmore.
Rathlin Castle, also known as Bruce's Castle, was a castle on Rathlin Island off the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland.
Causeway Coast and Glens is a local government district covering most of the northern part of Northern Ireland. It was created on 1 April 2015 by merging the Borough of Ballymoney, the Borough of Coleraine, the Borough of Limavady and the District of Moyle. The local authority is Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
Cary is a historic barony in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. To its north is the north-Antrim coast, and it is bordered by three other baronies: Dunluce Lower to the west; Dunluce Upper to the south; and Glenarm Lower to the south-east. The world-famous Giant's Causeway is situated on the north coast of Cary. Dunineny Castle lies in the civil parish of Ramoan within this barony.
The history of the Bissett family in Ireland can be studied independently from that of the originally identical family in Scotland, because of their unique experience following their arrival in Ulster in the early or mid-13th century. Here, while still remaining involved in Scottish affairs, the Bissetts would establish themselves as the Lords of the Glens of Antrim and quickly become equally, then eventually more involved in the politics of the Irish province, becoming among the most Gaelicised of all the so-called Anglo-Norman families in Ireland. The heads of the leading branch of the family soon adopted the Gaelic lineage style Mac Eoin Bissett, by which they are known in the Irish annals, and which translates as "Son/Descendant of John Byset", after a prominent ancestor born in Scotland. In a number of English and Anglo-Norman sources the same head of the family is referred to as the Baron Bissett, also with variants.
Henry Wallace Stuart Clark MBE was a sailor, author and businessman from Northern Ireland.
Verifying Rathlin Island's connections with King Robert the Bruce
It’s a famous story, but is it true?
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