Rathlin Island’s new guide is more than just giving directions on a route.
It is a dip of the myth and magic of the only living island off the North Coast.
The booklets bring you back to the people who lived, loved and laboured on the island of Rathlin. The wit and wisdom of Rathlin’s oldest Island-born resident, Loughie McQuilkin, is well captured by Nicky Hainey in her style of the writing.
Nicky and Loughie bring us into the card school of Alex McMullin and we can just imagine his fury when he discovered the buttons cut off his waistcoat.
In our minds eye we can see James Henry McMullin planting the Water Lilies at Craigmacagan on the cast of a stone. Our thoughts flow across the Atlantic when we read about the Great Famine exodus and a little further on we shiver inside when we pass Douge (read the booklets).
It gives a rich insight into the island’s social history, and the fun and the frolics of parties and punch-ups.
It shares the darker moments - the tragedy that named ‘McDonnell’s Race’, the ship wrecks, the accidents. It links the past with the present through family connections.
The walks of Rathlin have no ‘sell by date’ so they can be enjoyed time and time again and will preserve the Rathlin Reminiscences for future generations.
The present generation looking to 2014 Summer season have many new and exciting projects to entice visitors. The expo here today gives a good description of the many businesses that are vibrant and welcoming on the island, for example: New 30 bed hostel, new island based sea tour to the seabird colony in a Rathlin Island boat, new art gallery Breakwater Studio, Kelp production, new food outlet Tania’s takeaway trailer, Emma’s Chip Ahoy, Seafood shop and Kelp products, Catriona’s Island Treasure and Post Office, Community shop, Harbour Cafe and 20kms of public and published walks.
And despite the rumours, the puffins are still here! For this season the RSPB Seabird Centre will not be open to the public.
There are extensive works planned for the lighthouse so for 2015 it will be a state of art attraction included in the Lighthouse Trail of Ireland.
So for 2014 the puffins will nest without an audience but an ingenious idea has been hatched. There will ne more puffins than ever all over the island as residents have stitched, knitted, glued, painted and with growing ingenuity, produced puffins galore.
You’ll have to go and look for them though - a new way of Rathlin bird-watching.
Plenty to do, plenty to enjoy. Rathlin, open for business, and you are welcome.