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Fair winds and following seas for the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival 2022

As the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival returns the organisers are hoping for fair winds and following seas to showcase a range of heritage crafts on the Sound, from currachs, drontheims, corricles and the tall ship Leader.

Fergus McFall of the Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group stated that:

“We are pleased to attend and work together with the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival year on year. We are a group of people enthused by the traditional boats and maritime craft of the area and the Festival is the pinnacle event of our calendar.

“One of our most spectacular craft is the Colmcille Currach built in 1997 and is the largestcurrach in the world! It has been around Ireland and rowed as far away as the Basque country and with many a trip up the Inner Hebrides.

“We also use the traditional fishing craft of the North coast of Ireland for sailing races, it’s called the Drontheim. These are a real spectacular sight of red sail when seen out along the coast line. We hope to see you all and enjoy the craic at the festival and don't forget to say hello!”

The name ‘Drontheim’ comes from Trontheim in Norway, the lines and design style of the boat stretches back to Viking times and the Norwegian craft such as the ‘faering’ which are descents of earlier Viking boat styles and building techniques.

Up until the 1960’s, the Drontheim was the boat of the north and west coastal areas of Ireland and Scotland. However, with engines becoming the order of the day, the need to have a boat that would sail well, or could be rowed, was no more. The traditional regattas which were a feature of places like Moville, Portstewart, Rathlin Island and Islay, were nearly consigned to history.

Voyages on open water were made in currachs that were light and portable and that did not require harbours to launch. Due to their light construction there are few remains of ancient boats but the designs from different parts of Ireland have been passed down over the years and modified according to the needs of those who fished from them.

Currachs would have been used for journeys between islands and the mainland, for fishing and for transporting animals. There is also a strong tradition of currach racing during events and celebrations and the boats are still included in some coastal rowing competitions today.

Paul Kerrigan of Ballycastle Community DevelopmentGroup, stated:

“I am delighted to see these heritage craft being given the opportunity through the festival to showcase our traditional boat building skills and maritime heritage and would like to thank the Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group for keeping these traditions alive, their continued and valued input to the festival and providing people the opportunity to get on the water and experience sailing or rowing these types of craft.”

The 130-year-old heritage tall ship named ‘Leader’, will be in attendance during the festival. Northern Ireland Sailing Charity, Silvery Light Sailing, recently acquired the 1892-built heritage tall ship to host community sailing programmes and further expand their traditional boat building skills workshops.

The Brixham trawler was formerly a survivor of the fleets of sailing fishing boats that once fished in the Irish Sea. Recently Sailing from Bristol after dry docking and a maintenance refit, the 130-year-old Brixham trawler, arrived at the Albert Basin in Newry, County Down.

The heritage vessel is again destined to become a familiar sight in Northern Ireland’s ports providing a unique sailing experience for local youth and community groups, public open days and festivals and is a fantastic addition to the festival programme.

Trips currently planned as follows – pre-booking essential.

Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th May 14.30 – 17.00 & 18.30 – 21.00

Friday 3rd & Saturday 4th June 11:00 – 13.30 & 18.30 – 21.00

£25 per person, concessions available for families. Book at Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre Tel: 028 2076 2024 or email

Credit card payments accepted for Telephone bookings.Please arrive in time to collect your ticket from Ballycastle VIC before boarding. Sailings are weather dependant. Guests with limited mobility need to be aware that gangway needs to be passed for embarking and disembarking.

FREE daily access on board whilst berthed.

The full programme of on the water activities will be published on the festival’s website soon so please visit for the latest updates or contact Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre by ringing 028 2076 2024.

Please note, details are subject to change due to tides and weather conditions, so visitors are advised to follow the Festival’s Facebook (@RathlinSoundMaritimeFestival) and Twitter (@RathlinSoundMF) channels for the most up-to-date announcements.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is working with Ballycastle Community Development Group and RathlinDevelopment and Community Association to bring you this hugely popular celebration, with a packed programme of activities on both dry-land and at sea, inspired by the RathlinSound – the body of water connecting Rathlin Island to the mainland in Ballycastle.


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