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

Rathlin Island Rue Point and Roonivoolin Walk

15 05 2013


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: (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 ( 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

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 >, 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.

Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in Ballycastle Forest

13 05 2013

Ballycastle Forest

  Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed a report by Outdoor Recreation NI which explores the Tourist and Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in the three major forests in Moyle, Glenariffe, Ballypatrick and Ballycastle.

 Councillor Cunningham continued “Ballycastle Forest located as it is so close to Ballycastle town centre has enormous potential. We need to make the most of our visitor and tourist potential, BallycastleForest is home to many important archaeological sites, souterrains, megalithic tombs and standing stones and there are many stories to be told about the history of the area.”

 “Ballycastle Town Partnership hopes to extend the TowRiver path as far as the entrance to the forest, so there is no reason why the old narrow gauge railway line cannot be developed to form a “Glentaisie Trail” which would facilitate walking, running, cycling, orienteering  and horse riding. There are a host of sporting events which could be staged in our wonderful surroundings.

 The Moyle Way and the climb of Knocklayde can be better promoted, alongside the Red Squirrel safari. With proper planning and marketing we can realise the fantastic opportunity which is on our doorstep.”

Ballycastle to host Co Antrim Fleadh

28 04 2013


 Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that he is pleased to see  the  County Antrim Fleadh returning to the town. Events will run over the  period 6th to 12th May 2013. As well as attracting visitors and boosting the local economy, the Fleadh will promote our musical culture and showcase our talented musicians . I congratulate the organisers who have put together a  mix and range of events and competitions for all ages.


Fleadh Opening Monday 6th May

 Dé Luain – Monday 6th May

 @ Approx 10.00 from Cushendun – ‘An tSiúlóid Sheachadta – The Handover Walk’ from Cushendun to Ballycastle with tunes along the way, the Hunger House and Hunter’s Bar, and arriving in Golf Club at approx 4.30pm. Local walkers and walking groups welcome to join in. £4 per entrant, musicians (with instruments, no bluffers!) free.

 @ 1.00 – 3.00 – Street Sessions – 30 designated spots. Great prizes, contact All CCE Branches welcome.

 @ 3.00 – 4.30 Open air in The Diamond, Ballycastle – Live Traditional music from trad legends ‘Craobh Rua’ featuring some of Antrim and Ireland’s best musicians.

 @ 4.00 – 7.00pm BBQ and session – BBQ agus sessiún ceoil, O’Connor’s Bar, Anne Street – Tí MacConcubhur, Sráid Áine. Fáilte roimh achan daoine.

 Dé Mhairt – Tuesday 7th May

@ 10-11.30 Gaelscoil An Chaistil – 5 Kiln’s Rd, Ballycastle Tachráin is Tuismitheoirí as Gaeilge, Parents and Toddlers in Irish @ 3.30pm McAlister Hall, Ballycastle – Presentation from John Bustard ‘The Irish in Stories’ Myths and legends of the north coast of Antrim via brand new app!! – Taispeántas ó John Bustard ‘The Irish in Stories’ Seanscéaltaí ó Aontroim Thuaidh ar app nua!! Followed by – Presentation of Awards for Art and photography competitions

 @ 4.30 – 5.30pm McAlister Hall, Junior Céili through Irish – Céili na hÓige as Gaeilge Caller Helen O Kane Music: Senior CCE

 @ 7.00pm Rotary Club meeting at Central Bar – Presentation by Gerry McGouran and Baile an Chaistil CCE junior members followed by traditional session

 @ 7.00pm ‘Singing Session’ in Halo Night club. All singers welcome.

 Dé Chéadaoin –Wednesday 8th May

@ 4.00 – 6.00pm – At Oifig na Fleá, Castle Street – Flute Master class with one of Ireland’s premier flute players, Brendan Mulholland. (Booking essential.)

 @ 7.00pm Thyme and Co – ‘The Reiver and the Gael’ Story telling, songs, poetry and stories – Scéaltaí agus Amhráin le Stephen Hall, Michael Sands, Aodhán MacSheaffraidh’

A brand new cultural experience…like the Good Friday Agreement only funnier!

 Deardaoin – Thursday 9th May

@ 7.00pm Beach walk with Óg Ógras all welcome – Meet at Marine Corner

 @ 7.00pm – Treasure Hunt starting at Marine Corner, hosted by Danny Morgan and Maura O’Loan. Prizes for the winners. All welcome

 @ 8.00pm O’Connor’s Bar – Tí MacConcubhur, Sráid Áine – ‘The Gathering’ session – Sessiún mór ceoil ‘An tOireachtais’

 @ 9.00pm O’Connor’s Bar – Tí MacConcubhur, Sráid Áine – Senior Session with Dominic, Leo, PJ and friends. The longest running session in Ireland! 35 years and counting.

 Dé hAoine – Friday 10th May

@ 8.00pm – Cross and PassionCollege, Fleadh Concert with local Branches special guest Len Graham. MC PJ Hill.

@ 9.30pm The House of McDonnell – Teach Tom The Friday night session – Sessiún ceoil oíche Aoine

 Dé Sathairn – Saturday 11th May

@ 9.30am Cross & PassionCollege, Moyle Road, Ballycastle Competitions – Comórtais

 @ 6.00-8.00pm Session in ‘The Boyd’. All welcome.

 @ 7.00 – 9.00pm Len Graham, renowned singer and storyteller in Harbour Bar upstairs. Talk on Frank Mc Collam (local musician and former founder of the Baile An Chaistil Branch)

 @ 9.30pm -Sessiún mór i dTí Tom – The Big Fleadh session in Tom’s – The House of McDonnell

 Dé Domhnaigh – Sunday 12th May

 @ 12.00am Cross & PassionCollege, Moyle Road, Ballycastle Competitions – Comórtais Céili Band, Grúpa Cheoil and Dancing Competitions

 @ 2.00pm – 4.00pm Wheel Works presents Live Electronic Music Workshop for all the family

 @ 5.00pm Closing Concert with local CCE branches

Ballycastle Sea Front stage – Ardán na Mara, Baile an Chaistil

Many impromptu sessions taking place. Please enjoy the fleadh and enjoy Ballycastle.

Go leor seisiún spleoracha i rith an deireadh seachtaine. Bainigí sult as Baile an Chaistil


Motorists must respect Horse riders

14 04 2013

Horse Safety on our roads 2
Speaking after Moyle Councillors had been contacted by horse owners with regard to a number of safety issues, Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for motorists and other road users to show greater safety consideration for horse riders on the road.
“The local community and visitors to the area love to see horse riders out and about, but we are all responsible for creating a safe environment for this to happen. Car drivers and horse riders both have a right to use the road. But by considering each others’ needs and following some basic advice, drivers and riders can help make the road a safer place for all.”
“Horses are easily scared by noise and may panic around fast-moving vehicles; it is important that motorists slow down and are ready to stop if necessary”
“Motorists should also look out for riders’ signals and when overtaking, pass wide and slow giving the horse plenty of room, refraining from rapid acceleration rapidly once you have passed.”
“We must all work to make the scenic routes in and around Ballycastle as safe as possible for everyone to enjoy”

Community Festival and Tourist Event Funding

21 02 2013

Community festival
Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the joint initiative by Moyle Council’s Tourism and Community Services sections who have teamed up to introduce some exciting changes to its grants programme for Community Festivals and Tourism Events for this incoming 2013-14 year.

Cllr Cunningham who is a member of the Council’s Grant panel particularly welcomed the new flexibility between the programmes “Festivals make a significant contribution to communities and to the local economy. I fully support the rationale behind the introduction of a new Small Tourism Events Grant aimed at events that will create an economic benefit and encourage people to stay in the local area.

I would encourage anyone interested in organising a Community Festival or Tourist Event which would attract visitors to the area to come along to one of the following information sessions.”

Ballycastle: Wed 27th Feb, 7pm Sheskburn House,

Bushmills: Thurs 28th Feb, 2pm, Community Centre

Cushendall: Mon 4th March, 7pm, Old School House

Cunningham looks forward to Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival

15 01 2013

Tall Ships Fairhead

Expressing his disappointment that the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival had not been successful in receiving funding from the NITB Events Fund, Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said that he has every confidence that the event will be a success.

“A lot of hard work has already gone into planning the event, I have no doubt that this festival will be a success and can grow into a major annual maritime festival.

“The festival which will run from 24th  May to 2nd June 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.”

“There is already growing interest in the special seafood themed market which will include cookery demonstrations. Throughout the event special menus in local cafes and restaurants which will celebrate our unique food offering.”

“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.”

Regeneration of “Tourist Town Centres” needs to be taken seriously

7 01 2013

old diamond

Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has called for greater urgency to be shown by the Government and the Assembly Executive to help rescue ailing town centres in “tourist towns”.

Calling for an honest assessment Councillor Cunningham said “Small independent traders in towns like Ballycastle are buckling under the weight and pressures of soaring operational costs and ever increasing regulation and bureaucracy “

“If we are to prevent our town centres becoming ghost towns, we all need to work together to provide support; central Government and the Assembly Executive have fallen way short off the mark.”

“The state of the economy poses its own challenges to the independent retail sector as does the internet and the loss of critical footfall. Work is needed on areas such as business rents, rates, red tape, planning and even taxation”

“Solutions to these issues won’t be found without honest engagement across every level of government. Properly empowered, Local Government is best placed to take the lead on some of these issues, our knowledge of and commitment to the local community should allow us to provide a creative vision to providing local solutions which match the expectation of the community and the visitors we hope to attract”

Make “The Gathering 2013” a success

1 01 2013

“Ireland has contributed enormously to the world through its literature, drama, poetry and music. Our country has enriched lots of people’s lives. The Gathering 2013 is a chance to give back. And celebrate the achievements of our small island on a worldwide stage.”
Liam Neeson, Actor

The “Gathering Ireland 2013” promoted by Fáilte Ireland will feature events that will range from small get-togethers to community events. Each in its own way will showcase all that is great about Ireland and inspire anyone with a connection to the country to visit in 2013.
Moyle has a chance to be the centre to a host of activities hoping to attract our diaspora back to spend time in their homeland. Let the Council know if you organising any family reunion or other events for 2013!