Cushendun, Ballymena, Moyle
Enjoy a relaxing break in the picturesque Cornish-style setting of Cushendun – a small coastal village in County Antrim, in the heart of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Designated as a Conservation area in 1980, most of the village and parkland around Glenmona to the north has been owned by the National Trust since 1954.
Situated off the A2 coast road about 20 kilometres to the south east of Ballycastle, it has a sheltered harbour and lies at the mouth of the River Dun and Glendun, one of the nine Glens of Antrim.
Locally, the Caves, Glendun Viaduct, the breath taking views of Torr, the vanishing lake, Layde graveyard and the Curfew Tower are all worth a visit. The waterfalls at Glenariff Forest Park are also a big attraction for tourists.
The Mull of Kintyre in Scotland can be found a short 15 miles away across the North Channel and can be seen easily on clear days.
The nearby hamlet of Knocknacarry, which is closely related to Cushendun, lies approximately one mile to the west.
Life and Legend
Cushendun is another tiny fishing village. It lies at the mouth of the Dun salmon river and under the great flat topped mountain called Lurigethan which is well known for its large population of fairies. Within the village there is a fine sandstone bridge and a pretty beach to the north. At the end of the beach there is a tower house castle, Castle Carra, where the McDonnells finally sealed their ownership of the Glens. In 1567, the McDonnells entertained their former enemy Shane O’Neill in the guise of making peace and creating an alliance. At each meal the seating was arranged so that each McDonnell had an O’Neill beside him, so they could make friends and get to know each other. There were two days of hunting and feasting but on the third evening, at a given signal in the middle of a banquet, the McDonnell men drew their daggers and killed the O’Neill who sat beside them. Shane O’Neill’s head was cut off and pickled and sent to the English in Dublin.
The laneway beside Castle Carra is flanked by two bronze age standing stones.
Cushendun is the quaintest village in the glens. It was originally very small but the centre was redeveloped by Lord Cushendun in the early 1900s. He employed Clough Williams Ellis to design a village square and the Maud Cottages and stayed on to redesign Glenmona House. Williams Ellis had designed buildings all over the British Isles, in France and Holland and even China. Most famously he designed the village of Portmerrion in Wales, the set of the cult television series The Prisoner. The square in the centre of the village encloses a lawn with a path to each doorway. It is so neat that there is no need for a sign not to step on the grass… it goes without saying. The neat whitewashed houses with their grey slated roofs stretching to the ground floor with their Georgian windows, tall chimneys and mansard windows are something quite unique in the Glens.
There are circular walks around the Glen from the village, the shortest leads past Innispollen church. Originally this was an island in the river and it was the place chosen by Saint Senan for his church. Saint Senan was the Bishop of Innispollen in 563 (AD). One of the stones in the graveyard is called the Fuldiew stone. It is said to have been carved by a girl who had awaited her lover to come home from the sea but sadly he was killed on his last voyage. She went out one night saying she was going to her lover’s home, to share her grief with his family, but she never arrived. Later she was discovered dead beside his gravestone. She had lain by the side of his grave stone and carved his ship on it together with some last words of her own before she pined away for her love.
The stone reads, “Your ship Love, is moored head and starn for a Fuldiew’
Her lover’s name was John McAlaster, but her name has been lost forever.
Across the road from the church, the original ballaun stone from the earliest church is at the side of a lane leading to a farmyard. It has two hollows on the top. Its local name is the Gloonan Stone and Saint Patrick is supposed to have prayed here. A little further up the road there is a roadside enclosure amongst the delightful trees of Craigagh, located there a crucifixion carved on a stone. This is The Altar in the Woods. The stone was brought from Islay in the 1500s and was later used as a mass rock.
This peaceful road gives the best views of the Glendun Viaduct. The Glendun Viaduct is known as the Big Bridge by Glens people. It spans the river Dun in the centre of the glen and is supposed to be one of the finest of its kind in the British Isles. It was designed by Charles Lanyon, the architect of Queen’s University in Belfast. The stones to build it were quarried in Layde, taken by boat to Cushendun and then transported by cart to the site of the bridge where the building work took 5 years. The tiny Clady bridge takes the walk over the river Dun and back to the village.
Video produced by Ambient Light Productions