Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rathlin Island and Soccer euro 2016

               I thought I had witnessed most parts of Ulster when I lived there but the travels of Simon Reeve (viewed on SBS a few weeks ago ) surprised me when he visited parts of the Province that I had not even contemplated. I wonder how many of you have been to Rathlin Island. Yes this was the unusual place where Simon Reeve went with his camera crew.
Of course it is not as well-known as say The Aran Islands off Galway and Doolin. To me it looks very like our own Rottnest but with a very different climate as you can imagine. Rathlin Island lies just 6 miles north of Ballycastle, eight miles long and less than a mile wide it has for many years been considered part of the Glens. Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland, with a growing population of around 145 people, and is the most northerly inhabited island off the coast of Ireland. The reverse L-shaped Rathlin island is 4 miles (6 km) from east to west, and 2.5 miles (4 km) from north to south.
If you would like to visit the island (well why not) a ferry connects the main port of the island, Church Bay, with the mainland at Ballycastle, 10 km away. Two ferries operate on the route - a fast foot-passenger-only catamaran ferry called "Rathlin Express" and a larger ferry, owned by the Scottish Government, called "MV Canna" which carries both foot passengers and a small number of vehicles, weather permitting of course.

In 1306, Robert the Bruce sought refuge upon Rathlin, owned by the Irish Bissett family, staying in Rathlin Castle, originally belonging to their lordship the Glens of Antrim. The Bissetts were later dispossessed of Rathlin by the English, who were in control of the Earldom of Ulster, for welcoming Bruce. What were we meant to say. “Sorry Bruce, you ain’t welcome here!”
Simon Reeve’s documentary highlighted the non-sectarian life on the island due to integrated schools. He also showed how the locals had used their initiative to cultivate seaweed or more specifically kelp which is (apparently) a highly nutritious food.

Simon then visited the area in Antrim where they filmed the “Games of Thrones” and then on to Belfast. Unfortunately, he arrived on the 11th July where he filmed the “goings on” around that time. Enough said. He then left the province for other pastures; Dublin and Wicklow to be exact.
It left me wondering about how many places he could have visited. What a great part of the world we left behind. Well, I am sure you would agree, it was only for some decent weather.
Let’s leave these ramblings for a while. Y E S. We have just beaten Ukraine. Euro soccer if you were doing a wee bit of wondering what I was on about! After a pretty pathetic display against Poland, and lots of criticism about our credentials of being in the competition, we answered with a fine 2-0 win.  Well done lads. By the time you read this we may have just won the event or not but who cares. We got there and had at least one fantastic win.

Now to finish off, if any of you out there have a favourite spot in the Province that you particularly like, write to the Irish Scene on face book and let me know.

I wrote a song (one verse and chorus below) after living in Australia for a few years. It is such a fabulous place but yet there were always a few regrets (which luckily did not last for long) as it is so far away from the other places I had lived in.

               I’m far away far away in Australia, No ties, blue skies in this land
               But still I miss, still I miss the friends I once loved
               I’m so far away in Australia.

               Land of the kangaroo where there’s plenty of sun
               It’s good to live here,  it’s always been fun
               But sometimes I miss the cold and the rain
               The warmth of good friends well you know what I mean.
    You can find the rest of the song using the web page listed below.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          David MacConnell

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