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Torr Head (Cionn an Toir)

Pointing out into the Irish sea, Torr Head is a magnificent view. It has an lookout building on it’s peak which I believe was used during the war. This gives you an indication of the scope of the views which you can obtain from this point. In the first century the hill was occupied by a fort – Dunwarry. The land you see in the distance is the east side of Rathlin Island.

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White Rocks

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Layd Church

 

Abandoned since 1790 the current building was established in 1306A.D. when it replaced an earlier religious house. Port Obe lies below and is still popular with fishermen today. The surrounding graveyard has several MacDonnell gravestones but the most spectacular is a fine example of a Celtic cross (shown above to the left) erected in the memory of Doctor James MacDonnell co-founder of a hospital in Belfast that was later to become the Royal Victoria Hospital.
I have visited this site during Easter and found it to a very calm serene place. Behind the church is a deep gully with a stream trickling peacefully by the beds of wild flowers in the shade of the tower trees.

Location

The church is accessible via two routes depending upon you preference of walking or driving.
To drive start at Cushendall village center (Curfew Tower) where you follow the road for the beach, along the way a road veers left and you can follow this for a short distance before coming upon a small car park on the right with a path leading to the church.
To walk, again start at Cushendall village center (Curfew Tower) where you follow the road for the beach only this time continue to the end of the road and park and follow the 1.5 mile footpath along the coast to the church.

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Glencloy (Gleann Clat)

Glencloy takes its name from the stone ditches in the upper glen and on Garron mountain. Some of these have been shown to date from the Bronze Age. Archaeological excavations at Bay Farm have uncovered evidence of Neolithic occupation (around 4000 B.C.) and further excavations in the same general area uncovered a Bronze Age settlement dated between 2000 and 1500 B.C.

Doonan waterfall, situated two miles up the glen from Carnlough, has a tranquil picnic area where a family can enjoy wonderful views. Visitors should be sure not to miss the nearby Doonan Leap viewpoint overlooking it’s own impressive waterfall. Behind is the Doonan Fort. Built over 1200 years ago in the early Christian era, this fort or rath is all that remains of a stockade homestead. From there you can see Knockaneffrin with its mass rock. Other mass rocks in the area are situated at Ballyvaddy and Straidkilley.

Doonan Fort about 2 miles west of Carnlough and Dungallan Fort about 2 miles north of Carnlough are Norman mottes. The great fort of Drumaul at Garron Point was also adapted as a motte although it undoubtedly pre-dates the Normans. There is a strong local tradition that it was a Viking stronghold. Garron Tower, standing on a high ledge at Garron Point was built as a summer residence by Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry. She had inherited this part of the Antrim estates from her mother, Anne Katherine MacDonnell, Countess of Antrim who had married Sir Henry Vane-Tempest of County Durham. The Tower and grounds were purchased by McNeill’s Hotel in Larne in 1915 and were acquired by the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor in 1950 for use as a boarding school for boys. It is now a co-educational day school with an enrolment of 610. Drumnasole House was built by Francis Turnley in 1808 and is still in the possession of the Turnley family. The late John Turnley was assassinated by loyalist gunmen in 1974.

Farming and the tourist industry provide the main sources of income.

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Armoy (Oirthear Maí)

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Bonamargy Friary (Bun na Mairge)

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(Mouth of the river Margy)

History

The ruin of a Franciscan friary founded by Rory McQuillan about 1500 and used until the mid seventeenth century. One of the last friaries to be built before the Reformation, it was approached by a small, two-storey gate-house. The friary church, originally roofed with thatch, is long and rectangular, and retains much of a fine east window. Against the south wall is a fine McNaughten tomb of 1630, and a low, holed cross at the western end is traditionally said to mark the grave of Julia McQuillan, a recluse nun who lived here in the 17th century. There is also a sealed vault which contains the coffins of several MacDonnell chiefs most well known locally was Sorley Boy resting in his massive coffin. In 1584, the church was burned when Irish and Scots attacked English troops quartered here, but the friars continued to use the church throughout much of the 17th century.
There is a stairwell leading to the roof but be careful not to step on the thirteenth step as this will incur a misfortune. When you reach the roof you will find an excellent view over the surrounding golf course, but be aware that only a few hundred years ago this beautiful place would have been the scene of many a vicious battle between the MacDonnells and the MacQuillans and many a courageous warrior was slain here.

Location

The friary is situated on the edge of Ballycastle Golf Course on the east A2 coast road, easily within walking distance of Ballycastle seafront.

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Glentaisie

Glentaisie, the first of the nine glens, starts at the front of Knocklayde mountain and meanders around its base down to Ballycastle Bay. The glen is believed to have been named after the beautiful Princess Taisie daughter of King Dorm from Rathlin Island. The upper slopes are barren green fertile fields home to flocks of sheep and know one else. The base is a quiet haven for wildlife with a trees and hedgerows that surround the winding River Toe, as it approaches Ballycastle pass below the old narrow gauge railway bridge and Ballycastle Forest to meet up with Glenshesk at the seafront.

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Portrush

Portrush, bounded by the sea on three sides with three beaches, is a popular seaside resort with all usual amenities, including a championship golf course. You’ll find plenty of arcades, shops and fresh air.

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Loughareema (Loch an Rith Amach)

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(Vanishing Lake)0600vanishinglake03-6863417
The water does disappear and reappear within hours.

Lying just a few miles from Ballycastle ,Loughareema is surrounded by unspoiled, uninhabited, heather covered hills. It would appear as just a normal lough but if you care to go away for a while upon your return you find it has completely vanished, but be careful you could end up stranded as the water does on a regular basis cover the main road. Only a  few inches I might add but enough to make it seem as if someone built two walls into a lough, it’s a pretty cool site to see!!!
In October 1898 the lough claimed the lives of Colonel Jack McNeill and his coachman.

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Ballycastle Beach

Ballycastle beach as you can see is set against the beautiful backdrop of Fairhead with the Golf course adjacent. The beach is very popular with locals and tourists as it is quite safe to bathe, although somewhat colder that the average swimming pool. In the distance you can just see the Pans Rocks which jut out into the sea and are easily accessible by the footbridge, this is a very popular spot for fishermen with plenty to be caught. Beyond that point you will find another rock formation which hides what the locals call the ‘Devil’s Churn’. The Devil’s Churn can be accessed by concrete stairs down into the centre of the rock, it is a hole in the rock which forms an underwater tunnel to the sea nearby, it is a truly strange site to see the power of the ocean as it floods and then empties the tunnel with an uncontrollable force and echoing thunder.

At the near end you can see the edge of the Margy river which is spanned with an olde style stone bridge that gives access front Ballycastle seafront promenade. If you care to stop halfway across the bridge you can watch the fish as the swim up and down the Margy.

The views in the late summer evening are heart warming as the red sun settles on the sea just by Kinbane Head.

Location

You can walk from Ballycastle promenade over the footbridge, alternatively follow the east A2 coast road and take the first left onto Carrickmore Road where you will find parking.