There is a regular service to Rathlin from Ballycastle harbour. Sailings are more frequent in summer than winter but always subject to the weather conditions. Cork businessman Ciaran O’Driscoll took over the ferry service in July 2008 after 12 years of operation by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac).
O’Driscoll is from Cape Clear, Ireland’s most southerly island, while Rathlin is its most northerly. The company operates two boats daily, with the MV Canna (above, left) – capable of carrying cars, though visitors can’t bring vehicles onto the island – taking 45mins to make the crossing. A new boat for up to 97 passengers entered service in July 2009. The Rathlin Express is an alloy catamaran that runs at more than 17 knots, cutting the crossing down to 25mins.
Tel: +44 (0)28 2076 9299
There’s only one main road on Rathlin, so you have to try hard to get lost. However, the island is bigger than it looks, so many visitors use the minibus that meets each ferry for the five-mile drive to the West Light. On the way to the RSPB bird colony – the chief attraction for many – you’ll see most of the island’s landmarks. Few people go to the trouble of taking a car over on the ferry but bikes can be hired from Soerneog View Hostel (details below).
Eating & staying
THE MANOR HOUSE
The Manor House has 12 rooms, not all ensuite. It also serves evening meals – although you should book – and a tiny public bar, The Auld Kitchen.
Rathlin Manor House, Co Antrim BT54 6RT
Tel:- +44 (0)28 2076 3964
McCuaig’s bar and restaurant overlooks the harbour and is the island’s main pub. It serves the usual bar food throughout the day, including evening meals.
Tel: +44 (0)28 2076 3974
Only 15mins from the harbour, this lovely b&b sleeps six in two double/family bedrooms and one twin room.
Ballynoe, Rathlin Island, Co Antrim BT54 6RT
T el: +44 (0) 2076 3983
SOERNEOG VIEW HOSTEL
The hostel takes six people (one room with double bed and two rooms with bunk beds), with full self-catering facilities.
John and Jennifer McCurdy
Tel: +44 (0) 28 2076 3954
NORTH COAST COTTAGES
Four houses available to rent on the island, three with three bedrooms, one with two.
NB: Before booking accommodation confirm your ferry tickets.
For more information, see: