This is going to be the first blog that I am going to write on the absolutely incredible four days on Rathlin to celebrate my 14th Birthday and spend some much needed down time as a family. The reason that I haven’t written about this stupendously magical place yet, is due to the fact that until today, when I have tried to direct my thoughts at Rathlin I am overcome with longing and melancholy. So much so that I couldn’t even form full sentences; just pure tumultuous intense emotion; as restless as the seas surrounding the island. It touched my whole being, I have never been anywhere so wild and free.

Alongside late afternoon light and wind rising from the sea, we sailed the few miles from Ballycastle to Rathlin. Heaving depths carried Guillemots and Gulls scrabbled the air with harking and cackling. My excitement was intense, for reasons I couldn’t really understand, I normally dislike new surroundings but I knew this place would hold something for me. Eiders congregated at the harbour and we picked up our jeep to go to our cottage. It was perfect in the distance, traditional stone with no others around for miles. Upon reaching our roosting place I decided to take a walk amidst our patch, to explore. The evening light was getting dusky and the waves were gently swirling. It felt so calm, the air was so fresh and the place, otherworldly. I discovered a lake with Tufted Duck, Greylag Geese and above, a skein of white-fronted geese flying in dagger formation. Hares seemed to pop up everywhere and my eyes struggled to keep up with all the movement, my brain with all the sensory realities.  I could hear the cries of seabirds in the distance and as I walked towards the now closed seabird centre, Gannets flew on the horizon and the squeak of Kittiwakes became louder as I approached. I stood and looked out to sea and although I had a few days here, I wondered how empty I would feel when it was time to leave. I felt panic. My childhood, although wonderful, is still confined, it’s not free. It’s busy roads and lots of people, schedules, expectations…sometimes stress, and yes, sometimes unfettered joy. Angst rising in my chest, it was quelled by a call for dinner, it flew across and landed me back to reality. In a trance I walked back to the cottage with shadows moving in the golden fields. The breeze quickened .

After dinner, amongst the twilight, song burst from every corner of the air space and we were thrown to stop still our play and listen. Picking out each and every song, I was rooted, Skylark spirals, Blackbird harmonies, bubbling Meadow Pipits, screeching seabirds and amazingly the winnowing wings of bleating Snipe. The combination of all the calls surrounded us and we were amongst the other world. No cars. No people. Just the magnificence of nature. The best birthday in the whole world.

We watched Venus hover over the distant houses and the full moon blasted light from the clouds. I stood transfixed, numb hands and nose, bursting heart.

My next blog, tomorrow will focus on the West Light Seabird Centre and our ramble around the west of the Island.

Family McAnulty on the boat over to Rathlin.

More tomorrow

Dara