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17 September 2014
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Islands | Rathlin

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Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland is known as 'bird island'. It is an inhabited island with a population of just 80 people.

This wildlife paradise is a rugged outcrop lies just six miles off the North Antrim coast.

Rathlin is great for bird watching with tens of thousands of seabirds.

Islands index (Image: Puffin c/o  Chris Packham)

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Spring is when islands are bursting with life and energy - and this is a great season to watch wildlife.

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  • Check out island nature watching opportunities from birds and bees to flowers and fauna.

Rathlin - Visitor Guide


near Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.


Antrim Net 028 2177 2100
RSPB - 028 9049 1547

Information - 02820 763948

Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries - 028 2076 9299.

Ballycastle Tourist Information Centre on 028 2076 2024

Fax:Antrim Net - 0217 72129
Detailed map:RSPB map of island
Ordnance Survey:OS ref. 095515
Key attractions:

Bird watching. Wild walks, nature watching, cycling (bike hire). Wild flowers. Irish Hares.


The RSPB visitor centre area and cliffs offer great views of Puffins, Guillemots and Kittiwakes. There is also a viewing platform accessed by 89 steps down the cliffside.

Essential kit:

Binoculars and scopes for bird watching. Binocular hire available on site. Walking shoes.

Nature watching tips:

April onwards is the best time to visit. The birds are most active during mornings and evenings - but they are especially good in late afternoon when the setting sun illuminates the area.


From mid-April look out for seabirds including Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Puffins, Shags and Gannets.


New developments in 2007 will make access easier. From 2007, there will be toilets and disabled facilities at the car park level.

For more information, contact the warden - 028 9049 1547.

Getting there:

Located 6 miles from Ballycastle where there is a ferry service to the island. Private boats for charter also operate from Ballycastle Harbour. No cars are permitted on Rathlin Island.


Ferry service in late spring and summer from Ballycastle
Adult Return £8.60; Children (5 and under 16) £4.30. Family ticket also available. Booking Required - Telephone 028 20769299. Average time - 45 minutes.


Don't think of bringing your car here - instead there are taxis and a mini-bus service.

There's only two ways of independent travel on the island - on foot or by pushbike. A bike is an excellent way of getting around the island which is seven miles long by two miles wide.


Accommodation available.

Opening times:

Rathlin Island Cliffs (RSPB): Open 11 am-3 pm daily from April to mid-September.


Visitor centre open from 1 April-31 August.

Contact the warden prior to visit - 028 9049 1547.

No toilet facilities are currently available.

Charges:Free, but donations welcome.
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