Reminder: https://andy-luke.com/shop/ has original arts from £10, and copies from just 30p.
So yeah, I was first inspired to Rathlin after reading about it in the graphic novel Troubled Souls by Ennis & McCrea years ago. The central character has himself in a bloody spot and thinks back to craic on the rock with friends, lighting fires and jumping on top of them in beer-fuel, trouser legs catching. For all it’s faults, (and I’m sorry John) McCrea’s paints (on his 1st book) are some of my favourite of his comicbook career. He brings out lovely greens and reds, there’s texture and beautiful flow – it’s a classical fine artist’s comic through and through. Romanticism, impressionism, it’s the painting on the wall to a child. The one page sequence with Rathlin housed the idea in my mind firmly, a grail place.
In 2000 Ennis got married and Warren Ellis was among those attending the stag on Rathlin Island. Check out the audio file, Beer and the Garth Ennis stag party (5 mb, 5:09) for Warren’s re-telling of the event. It’s a pretty good description of Rathlin. (The text version is here)
So, I crossed the five currents of water-ways. The trip from Ballycastle was 25 minutes, with alternating services at 45 minutes transporting cars. Islanders or long stay visitors only. Jennifer McCurdy, a long-term resident, picked me up at the harbour and gave me a long tour around permanent facilities — the fabled McCuaig’s Bar & Bruce’s Kitchen Cafe, Emma’s Chip Ahoy, the decorated garden I’d seen from the boat:
Soerneog View Hostel was about twenty minutes walk out, while the other accommodations and most houses were in the close proximity central street. It was more a private rent-able accommodation than what I think of as a hostel. Check out my Marie Schrader bedclothes.
Stepping outside, Rathlin impresses instantly.
Rue Lighthouse is one of three marking the seven mile island, away from the harbour and populace of a hundred. So I went that way.
There’s the weird juxtaposition going on: the mass expanses of (BIG) country, fields and trees everywhere, but knowing that it’s limited. It seems to roll in front, but a mile over there….I could see Arkill Bay, Doon Bay (North Channel) the Sea of Moyle (Atlantic Ocean)
This is as close to wilderness as it comes. Halfway between the madness of Wuthering Height’s Heathcliff, sure to feature as a Game of Thrones location. Not a soul around yet though, and I began texting Mum eager that she and Dad take advantage of this Europe-sque outbound paradise. Halfway through, I jump at a hellish scream. Some weird fat partridge,pheasant or grouse bloodcurdling yell flies out away from under a dense hedge-row and across the field. In front of it, a brown hare, the bird pursues. Little bastards.
That’s Ushet Lough there, halfway between the hostel and the shoreline. The walk takes an hour, except when I got there, large bulls and cows wandered about the shoreline, one giving me the evil eye. It was already dark, but as I told Judy, I could have taken it. In a fight, if we were to, which we wouldn’t, because the animals of Rathlin and I are such good friends we’d never fight.
At the hostel, I oven cooked my pizza, drank some lemonade and whiskey and at 9pm wandered back outside for a quick walk to the harbour. There were no streetlights, which made it a bit of a challenge, but I’d reviewed the road footage while inside and it was familiar. Then I banged my leg into the garden gate and the neighbours must have heard it. Oops.
Travelblog finishes tomorrow.