Cunningham looks forward to second Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

24 01 2014

welcome aboard 

Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has expressed his delight that following the success of the inaugural Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival in 2013, the 2014 event is to receive sponsorship from the NITB Tourism Event Fund.

“I have every confidence that this event will continue to grow, and the NITB sponsorship will be an enormous help.”

“This year’s event will  run from 23th  May to 1nd June and will be centred on the Rathlin Sound, the body of water which lies between Rathlin and Ballycastle.”

“For the opening weekend events will focus on the Ballycastle side and then on Rathlin for the closing weekend. Both locations will host events during the week in-between.”

“The spirit of the event is to encourage “on the water ‘get involved’ activities”, there will be a host of historic craft and modern craft and something to interest the whole family.”
“Throughout the event special menus in local cafes and restaurants which will celebrate our unique food offering.  Last year there was great interest in the special seafood themed market which  included cookery demonstrations, and a special novelty event “Councillor Can’t Cook Won’t Cook” jointly won by Councillor Cunningham.”

“On top of all of that there will be wealth of entertainment in the evenings to choose from including music, drama and films. This certainly an event we can all look forward to.”

Sandra Hunter





New Broadband technology for Rathlin

15 07 2013

Knocklayde from Rathlin
Moyle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the recent BT announcement of a pilot “wireless to the cabinet” technology scheme, the first deployment of its kind in the UK and Ireland. The pilot will deliver high speed broadband to a number of premises on Rathlin from next month, with speeds of up to 80Mbps on the island for the first time.

“Broadband speeds on Rathlin have been limited by the difficulty in providing a high speed link to the island. BT is deploying a newly developed radio solution linking the Ballycastle exchange with the Rathlin island exchange. This is then integrated into the next generation high speed fibre broadband architecture which provides a ‘fibre-like’ capacity directly to a street cabinet on Rathlin.”

Councillor Cunningham added that “The new technology will enable Islanders to enjoy similar fibre broadband speeds as those available to businesses and households across Northern Ireland.”

The initial pilot phase will be trialled by a number of premises on the island and will run for six months. If successful, the solution has the potential to offer high speed fibre broadband capability to the majority of premises on Rathlin.





Attwood launches Rathlin Island European Marine Site Management Scheme

3 06 2013

Knocklayde from Rathlin

Rathlin Island and its seas support important nature conservation features including reefs, sea-caves and vegetated sea cliffs, as well as razorbills, common guillemots and harbour seals. These features are of such international importance that Rathlin is now part of a Europe-wide network of protected sites.

The Management Scheme, which was prepared by the Department of the Environment in close collaboration with the Rathlin Development and Community Association, will deliver enhanced protection of the seas around Rathlin by identifying how activities such as dropping mooring anchors on sensitive areas of the seabed could effect protected features and how these impacts could be minimised.

By protecting the island’s natural and important features including its wildlife, the Scheme will contribute to the sustainability of the local economy, as it is these features along with the Islanders themselves that make Rathlin such a vibrant location of both national and international importance. The environment and the people together are an intrinsic part of the island’s heritage.

The Minister said: “This scheme, which has been developed with and by the people from Rathlin, who will also play a pivotal role in its implementation, will protect the Island’s wonderful natural features, both on and offshore, and will also contribute to the sustainability of the local economy.”

He continued by saying that: “Tourism and fishing form an important part of the island’s economy and both depend on a healthy marine environment. I am confident that the Scheme will protect the island’s environment and enhance its economic well being.

“Rathlin and its waters are a great resource. The Marine scheme gives expression to that. Coming in the wake of the passage of the Northern Ireland Assembly Marine Bill only last week, it demonstrates the importance of our marine, it’s protection and positive development.”





Sunshine at the Opening of Rathlin Sound Maritme Festival

25 05 2013

welcome aboard

 Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham paid tribute to the organisers of the inaugural Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival and said he was looking forward to what will be an incredible week of events.

“In glorious sunshine,  a maritme themed   fancy dress parade made it’s way from Ballycastle  Diamond to the Seafront where it was met by many of the passengers fresh from a Cruise which circled Rathlin Island”

“A lot of hard work has already gone into planning the events for the week, community groups from both Ballycastle and Rathlin have come together with others to work as a team to ensure the events realise theirs full potential.”

“The festival supported by “The Gathering 2013”  runs from 24th May to 2nd June and will be centred on the Rathlin Sound, the body of water which lies between Rathlin and Ballycastle.”

“For the opening weekend events will focus on the Ballycastle side and then on Rathlin for the closing weekend. During the week long festival the town and island will play host to a wide range of community, cultural and education events and initiatives including sea-food themed events as well as music, drama and films.”

“I have no doubt that this festival will be a success and can grow into a major annual maritime festival. It will be a fantastic cultural event for Ballycastle, Rathlin and the wider region. It will give us all a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that is best in the region”.

“I would urge the entire community to attend and support as many of the events as possible”

Fancy Dress RSMF





Government can act to unlock renewable potential of Rathlin Island

17 05 2013

Knocklayde from Rathlin

Speaking after a Councillors meeting with the Rathlin Development and Community Association, Councillor Dónal Cunningham called for the Government Departments to recognize and work to alleviate the additional difficulties and high costs facing the development of a renewable energy project on Rathlin Island.

“Rathlin’s Community Renewable Energy Project proposes to install a 3 bladed 250kw wind turbine, will be the first community managed renewable energy project of its kind in the North. It will move the island further away from its reliance on fossil fuels and help develop Rathlin as a carbon neutral island generating electricity from renewable sources. Compared to similar sized projects on the mainland, the high costs of transport links to the island are likely to be a problem”

“This is an excellent project, which the Assembly needs to support. Not only does it present fantastic opportunities in terms of community empowerment it is a vitally important environmental project. It also offers the island community the opportunity to generate income and employment.”

“A recently published report by the Scottish Government indicates that by investing in clean energy projects on Scottish islands they could create thousands of jobs for the local communities. The report found that while there are many opportunities to exploit wind, wave and tidal resources across the islands, there are also cost obstacles to overcome. Taking that into account every effort must be made to allow the Rathlin Community to progress their project”

I congratulate the dynamism of the Rathlin Development and Community Association in particular the dedication to this project displayed by their Chairman Michael Cecil and wish them every success in this and other projects”





BIG Spring Clean on Rathlin

16 05 2013

Beach Clean

The residents of Rathlin Island are holding a BIG Spring Clean on Wednesday 22nd May beginning at 11.00am and finishing at 3.00pm.

The event is being organised by Rathlin Development and Community Association. The clean up will focus on the beaches and anywhere else that needs a little spruce up before the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival which begins on 24th May.





Rathlin Island Rue Point and Roonivoolin Walk

15 05 2013

Walk

Information from Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust

The next walk in our Events Programme for 2013 is on Rathlin Island and takes place on the 1st June 2013 at 1.30pm.  This walk takes place during the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival and the ferries will be very busy so if you wish to take part in this walk we recommend you contact Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd on (028) 2076 9299 asap to book your place on the ferry.  The ferry times can be found at the following link: http://www.rathlinballycastleferry.com/tr/index.php?id=timetable0 (Please ensure when booking your ferry that you leave yourself ample time to prepare for the walk.  It is also recommended to bring refreshments.)

 Once you have booked your place on the ferry, please contact either myself or Tierna (tierna@ccght.org) to register with for the walk. More information can be found below. Thank you for your time.

 Take the route less travelled on this beautiful walk to Rue Point, the most southerly point on the island and then on to the RSPB Roonivoolin Reserve and back to the Harbour area. This is a varied and leisurely walk and is also one of the great activities offered as part of this year’s exciting Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival celebrations. Enjoy amazing views of the coastline. Enjoy stunning views of the cliffs, Church Bay and the Northern Irish coastline as well as, during the Festival dates, a Search and Rescue Demonstration in the seas below.

Prebooking is required. Contact Tierna on (028) 2075 2100 or email tierna@ccght.org

We recommend you contact Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd (028) 2076 9299 to arrange ferry travel.

Assembly point: 1.30pm Rathlin Harbour, Rathlin Island.
Date: Saturday 1st June 2013
Duration: Approx 3 ¾ hours.
Distance: 5 miles.
Surface: Tarmac laneway, established tracks and open fields.
Grade: 2.
Footwear: Strong/solid footwear and waterproof clothing recommended. Sunscreen may be necessary and a bottle of water. No dogs please





Launch of Rathlin Sound Maritime festival

14 05 2013

Tall Ships Fairhead

Friday 10th May saw the launch of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, set to be one of the highlight events of the summer, beginning later this month on 24 May. The launch event was held at Portnagree House Harbour & Marina Visitor Centre in Ballycastle, the building that is home to the Harbour Master’s office and the Visitor Information Centre and offers impressive facilities for both visitors and locals. The launch event was organised and hosted by Caroline Carey, Acting Tourism Development Manager for Moyle District Council and John Morton, Harbour Master for Moyle District Council, both part of the Festival steering group.

Moyle District Council Chairman Cllr Sandra Hunter welcomed everyone to the launch event and paid tribute to the work of the Festival steering group and all the organisations involved for their efforts to put together such an exciting programme of activities throughout the Festival dates of 24 May to 02 June 2013. The Festival has been organised by a team comprising Moyle District Council tourism and marina staff, Rathlin Development and Community Association, Ballycastle Community Development Group and Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce. Michael Cecil, Chair of Rathlin Development and Community Association, Paul Kerrigan Chair of the Ballycastle Community Development Group and Mary O’Driscoll, Chair of Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce all spoke at the launch to welcome the guests and acknowledge the strong working relationships between the Festival team and outside organisations which has demonstrated how the local area and local businesses can be successfully promoted through this and other exciting tourism events in the Moyle area. A host of other organisations from across NI and beyond are also involved and will be running activities during the Festival, including Ulster Wildlife Trust, NI Environment Agency, Bushmills Distillery, NI Libraries, National Trust Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, Ballycastle Market and many more with representatives present at the launch event.
Guests were treated to samples of the excellent local produce available in Moyle with catering by local cafe Thyme & Co and Morton’s Fish Shop, provided courtesy of Malin Waters and their Sail West programme, with the focus on seafood to tie in with the overall maritime theme of the Festival.
Heavy showers didn’t dampen enthusiasm at the event with guests also visiting Ballycastle marina to see the iconic Colmcille currach, currently moored in Ballycastle and soon to head to Iona in the Western Isles of Scotland before making the return journey to Rathlin Island to take part in the Festival later this month.
The full programme of activities has recently been released for the first Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival which will run from Friday 24th May to 2nd June 2013. Programs with full activity listings as well as tickets for the music events are now available from Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre at Portnagree House on Bayview Road. Headline acts include among others Bap Kennedy, Bagatelle and Skerryvore.

The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is aimed at celebrating and promoting local maritime heritage, history, culture, music and food and has grown out of a number of conversations within local communities as well as last year’s successful Sailing Regatta. There has also been great interest from various organisations throughout Northern Ireland and beyond to participate.

This festival is centred on Rathlin Sound, the body of water that lies between Rathlin and Ballycastle and is about inspiring a passion for the sea by bringing together a rich mix of activities and events both on the sea and on land with an overall maritime theme. Events will focus on Ballycastle for the opening weekend and Rathlin for the closing weekend with plenty of activities in both locations throughout the Festival dates.
With on the water and seaside based ‘get involved’ activities including kayaking, diving, paddleboarding, surfing and more, historic and modern sea craft, dinghy and yacht racing, competitions, local and historic talks, tours, guided walks, open days and exhibitions there will be something to interest everyone including plenty of family friendly activities. The Festival will also include a special seafood themed food and craft market with cookery demonstrations, and a Can’t Cook Won’t Cook challenge by local Councillors. Local cafes, bars and restaurants will also be offering special menus and events throughout the event to celebrate our unique food offering. In the evenings there will be a wealth of entertainment to choose from including music, drama and films including great local, national and international singers and bands.
Full details of all activities and events can be found in the Festival program available at Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre and online on Moyle’s new tourism website at http://www.heartofthecausewaycoastandglens.com >, and also on facebook at http://www.facebook/HeartofCCAG or the festivals dedicated page as well as on twitter @heartofccag Head to Ballycastle and Rathlin Island at the heart of the Causeway Coast and Glens this bank holiday weekend 24 May to 02 June for a fantastic family friendly event listed as one of the top events for this year in the NITB International Visitor Guide, on The Gathering website and in Belfast Telegraph’s Ultimate Events Guide for NI.





Looking forward to inaugural Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

14 04 2013

Rathlin Sound Martime Festival
Paying tribute to the organisers of the inaugural Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that he was looking forward to what he predicts will be an incredible week of events.
“A lot of hard work has already gone into planning the event, community groups from both Ballycastle and Rathlin have come together with others to work as a team to ensure the event realises its full potential.”

“The festival supported by “The Gathering 2013” will run from 24th May to 2nd June and will be centred on the Rathlin Sound, the body of water which lies between Rathlin and Ballycastle.”

“For the opening weekend events will focus on the Ballycastle side and then on Rathlin for the closing weekend. During the week long festival the town and island will play host to a wide range of community, cultural and education events and initiatives including sea-food themed events as well as music, drama and films.”

“I have no doubt that this festival will be a success and can grow into a major annual maritime festival. It will be a fantastic cultural event for Ballycastle, Rathlin and the wider region. It will give us all a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that is best in the region”.

“I am particularly pleased that Council has been able to support this event through existing budgets and our Tourism Events Fund.”





Support for the Creative Industries could make Moyle the Arts and Crafts centre of the North

14 03 2013

Celtic Art

Following a recent Assembly debate on the Creative Industries Ballycastle SDLP Councillor, Dónal Cunningham has called for locally based artists and craftspeople to link up in a bid to further promote the Arts and Crafts sector which exists in Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the Glens of Antrim.
Councillor Cunningham said: “The creative industries have the potential to create employment, at this time of economic difficulty we need to do all in our power to create as many jobs as we can. In Moyle we have such a rich variety of artists and craftspeople. We are home to a huge variety of talents such as potters, painters, photographers, sculptors, jewellery designers and furniture makers and much more. I believe there is a huge potential for this industry to grow further by targeting the tourism industry and encouraging visitors to visit Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the Glens to sample art and craft.
Promoting our local arts and crafts serves also to promote the whole region, and can bring benefits for all year round. Once visitors discover how beautiful our area is and the quality of arts and crafts on offer they will want to keep coming back. In order to do so through the creative industries we must ensure that all efforts are co-ordinated and that collaboration between stakeholders is maximised.
“Government departments, with the department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure taking the lead, should create the supportive conditions for optimum growth within the huge potential which this sector offers.
“Once we mark Moyle out as being somewhere that nurtures and encourages arts and crafts, we will be sending out the message that it is a great place for artists and crafts makers to earn a livelihood, and the sort of place where young and talented people can build a career.”