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Cushendall is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about twelve miles south of Fair Head and three and a half miles northwest of Garron Point. Vessels may anchor off to the south of the village towards Red Bay, or pick up a club mooring.

Cushendall is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about twelve miles south of Fair Head and three and a half miles northwest of Garron Point. Vessels may anchor off to the south of the village towards Red Bay, or pick up a club mooring.

Cushendall is a good anchorage offering shelter from westerly component conditions round to north-northwest and tucked into the bight of the bay is out of the run of the current. It is completely exposed to anything with an easterly component. Access is straightforward thanks to the absence of offshore dangers or any tidal restriction. The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning in this area.
Please note

In Red Bay even moderate south or southwest winds blow with great violence down the valleys, coming off in heavy squalls. Vessels working their way in should be prepared for this and when these conditions exist expect it to be a characteristic of any stay. This is typically not an issue owing to the bay’s highly reliable holding.

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Aerial footage of the pier and anchorage at Cushendall

Aerial footage of the pier and anchorage at Cushendall

This 50 minute video covers the 'History of The Glens of Antrim' in great depth

About Cushendall

Cushendall derives its name from the Irish, ‘Cois Abhann Dalla / Bun Abhann Dalla’ meaning ‘foot of the River Dall’. The Dall, which flows into the sea here, is formed by the convergence of the Glenaan River with the Ballyemon River located 1km to the west. The name Dall is believed to be derived from Bun an Dalla meaning the ‘dark one’.

The nine glens are scattered with traces Neolithic man, but none are more significant than those at Cushendall. Tievebulliagh, situated close inland, was host to a prodigious Stone Age flint factory. The 401 metres high mountain forms part of the watershed between Glenann to the north and Glenballyeamon to the south and was formed from a volcanic plug. The intense heat generated in this process gave rise to the formation of a special kind of flint that is called ‘porcellanite’ because of its blue-grey porcelain-like colour. Unlike the commonly available flint, porcellanite is an extremely tough rock capable of taking a keen edge, especially when polished with sandstone. Not being brittle it was the ideal and preferred Neolithic material for axes employed in forest clearances, but it also made excellent arrow and spearheads.

It was Tievebulliagh porcellanite that formed the geological basis for a Neolithic axe factory here. Around five to six thousand years ago, stone-age settlers produced axes en mass. Several axes were found locally on the mountain but they were also traded throughout Britain and Ireland with some discovered as far away as Greece.

More than 10,000 beautifully polished and highly distinctive Antrim porcellanite axes have been discovered to date. This is by far the largest number from an identified source in the British Isles. Nearby Rathlin Island also had a similar ‘axe factory’ that exploited the same type of rock. A rich collection of Tievebulliagh porcellanite artefacts are displayed today in the Ulster Museum, some of them exquisite in form and texture.

After stone came bronze, and the focus shifted to Lurigethan from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D. The magnificent mountain Lurigethan, overlooking the village from the south, hosts one of the most spectacularly situated Stone Age promontory forts in Ireland. The promontory fort encloses 30 acres of the mountain and is discussed in the Red Bay Click to view haven entry. The Normans seized the glens from local chieftains and held power here until the late 1300s. Then John Mor MacDonald, 3rd chief of Dunnyveg, married into the Norman Bissett family and the area came into the possession of the McDonnell clan. Over time the clan expanded their power base right along the north coast and held the Glens by force of arms for over 200 years, most famously under the leadership of ‘Sorley Boy’, 1505-89.

The village of Cushendall commenced during the plantation period of the 1600s and was driven by water power and the migration of Scottish settlers. Then came the turbulent years when the estate was lost and regained. Finally, following the 1690 Williamite victory, the area around Cushendall was forfeited by the clan and sold to the ‘Hollow Sword Blade Company’ that acquired large tracts of Irish land after the Williamite victory. But the company failed and Cushendall was subsequently bought by a Dr Richardson who is chiefly remembered for changing its name to ‘Newtown Glens’.

In the early 19th century Francis Turnly was to transform the fortunes of the village. He made his own fortune with the East India Company in China and returned to buy the village. Living in Carnlough, he set about improving the coast road creating the Red Arch. In its day the Red Arch was a magnificent engineering feat that not only allowed him access but also connected many isolated communities along the coast. Indeed until then, Cushendall would have looked towards Scotland as its neighbour,, as it was easier to travel across the sea than across the mountainous areas which surrounded the village. In the village, Turnly started a major development programme which included building an inn, a bathhouse, a new mill, and a village school. In 1817 work began on the famous Curfew Tower in the centre of the village. Influenced by designs he had seen in China the tower was built to confine 'idlers and rioters'. Dan McBride, an army pensioner, was given the permanent job of guarding the tower garrison. He was armed with one musket, a bayonet, a brace of pistols and a thirteen-feet-long pike. Turnly not only set the village on a path to prosperity but he also restored it to its original name of ‘Cushendall’ and so it has remained ever since.

Today, situated at the convergence of three Glens - Glenaan, Glenballyemon and Glencorp - Cushendall is known as the ‘Capital of the Glens’. Add to this the magnificent summits of Lurigethan and Tievebulliagh that overlook the village and it is fair to say that the views here are spectacular, both ashore and afloat. In addition to its natural beauty, Cushendall is endowed with such exceptional architecture that it was also made a conservation town in 1973. Much of the town’s development, particularly the Georgian buildings of the town’s four original streets on the north bank of the River Dall, remains entirely intact today. The town also keeps it historical ‘fair days’ tradition alive for ten days each August with the 'Heart of the Glens' festival. This features traditional Irish music sessions and friendly pubs, and it would be an ideal time to plan a visit.

There is, of course, plenty here for walkers. In the immediate village area, there is a path that can be taken to Layde Church. The name means ‘Church of the broad place’ and the ruins are one of the oldest and most important historical sites in the Glens. Established in 1306 it replaced an earlier religious house that already existed on the site. The exact origins of this structure are unknown but it probably began life as a holy place in the Iron Age or before. The church was in ruins in 1622 but was rebuilt about 1696 and remained the site of Protestant worship until 1790 when it was replaced by a new building in Cushendall. The long narrow structure was built of local red sandstone and schist and had a thatched roof. It has a graveyard alongside and a fast flowing stream that cascades into the sea at Port Obe. Many of the MacDonald clan are buried in this graveyard or at Bonamargie Friary at Ballycastle.

The ancient church and graveyard is a quiet place from which to enjoy spectacular views of Lurigethan, Red Bay Castle and Garron Plateau. Across the North Channel, the Scottish Islands of North Islay, Mull of Kintyre, Rhyns of Galloway, Paps of Jura and Paddy's Milestone or Ailsa Craig can be seen, as the North Channel is scarcely 11 miles wide here. The round trip to the church and back can be accomplished comfortably in an hour, but please note the path is steep in places.

For the more energetic a hike to the top of Lurigethan will reward a walker with unforgettable views not only across the bay to Scotland but over the surrounding glens and small hamlets laid out like patchwork below. Direct access to the summit is from the northern foot along the zigzag paths, clearly visible from the bottom but difficult enough to follow on the ground. A race is held annually from the watchtower on the beach at Cushendall to the summit. The record currently stands at an astounding 26 minutes. There is also a golf course a short walk from the town.

From a sailing perspective Cushendall offers a stop-off point for boats bound in either direction through the North Channel or indeed crossing from the Western Isles of Scotland; visible all the way from here. Access to Cushendall is straightforward as it is non-tidal and available at all times plus free of off-lying dangers. Hence it serves as a tide wait location to allow vessels to take full advantage of favourable tidal streams that are the dominant feature of this area of the coast.

Cushendall Sailing & Boating Club is a small, young and very active club. It is open most evenings throughout the summer months and they are particularly welcoming. Visiting Yachtsmen may come in to freshen up and share a pint and a tale in the bar. All the time taking in the stunning north and south views of headlands plus, on a clear day, Scotland and some of its western islands. Set well into the bight of the bay Cushendall is a good anchorage with secure moorings. As such it is an excellent base to visit a particularly picturesque coastal village and designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Other options in this area

Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Red Bay Pier (Glenariff Pier) - 0.4 miles S
Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 3.3 miles SSE
Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 4.5 miles SSE
Ballygalley Bay - 7.7 miles SSE
Magheramorne Point - 11.2 miles SSE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Cushendun - 1.9 miles N
Torr Head - 4.3 miles N
Murlough Bay - 5.2 miles NNW
Church Bay - 8.6 miles NNW
Ballycastle - 6.4 miles NW

Navigational pictures

These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Cushendall.

Aerial footage of the pier and anchorage at Cushendall

Aerial footage of the pier and anchorage at Cushendall

This 50 minute video covers the 'History of The Glens of Antrim' in great depth

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