Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ballycastle retrospective

So Alan is back in Belfast, returned from Ballycastle via Dundonald’s Ulster Hospital A&E, but that’s another story).

Ballycastle grew on me over the three days. I used to spend the Good Friday to Easter Tuesday every year camped in Ballycastle’s Primary School on Quay Road. But other than Boyle’s shop (which stayed open late especially for our crowd’s nightly visit for tuck), the beach and the forest, I didn’t see much of the town.

This week, I’ve started to appreciate that Ballycastle manages to combine being up on the North Coast without being overrun by tourists. Although the traffic on its main street can be manic, it’s less gridlocked that Portrush and Portstewart.

Unlike Wayne, I only took a couple of photos while up in Ballycastle, missing the chance to reproduce his spoiled image.

If you walk onto the beach, turn right, and keep walking, you’ll hit a little white house (photo not mine) known locally as Marconi’s Cottage.

It’s from here that Guglielmo Marconi made wireless transmissions across the water from Ballycastle to Rathlin Island (six miles off the shore of Northern Ireland).

There’s a memorial to Marconi in Ballycastle Harbour car park, just behind the excellent Morton’s Fish and Ship shop (strongly recommended).

One change from my earlier memories of Ballycastle is the thriving, competitive trade in trips to Rathlin. Although the official Caledonian Macbrayne ferry still runs three times daily, other local boats also offer carriage across to Rathlin to check out the bird watching, diving (lots of offshore wrecks), cliffs and caves (one of which might be where Robert the Bruce saw a spider). You can stay overnight – there are 30 beds available for summer visitors, massively increasing the normal population of 75.

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