The rare untamed beauty of Rathlin Island and a spectacular array of wildlife are just two reasons to visit the RSPB’s Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre, which has re-opened its doors for the 2018 season.
Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island is home to around 150 residents but in spring and summer the ‘population’ explodes, as tens of thousands of seabirds come ashore and nest on the craggy cliff stacks.
The seabird centre offers a close-up view of the spectacular seabird colony and, as the numbers grow throughout the season, the sight and sound is like nothing else.
Last year a record number of almost 20,000 people flocked to see this amazing spectacle, with visitors coming from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and across the UK – as well as from Europe, the US and all over the world.
Alice Hadley, RSPB NI’s Rathlin Visitor Experience Manager, said: “We can’t wait to welcome more visitors to the West Light Seabird Centre this year. The seabirds have already started to arrive - we’ve had kittiwakes, guillemots, fulmars and razorbills so far - and the atmosphere down at the cliffs is palpable. We’ve been enjoying some beautiful sounds of spring from our returning skylarks - there’s nowhere on earth like Rathlin on a spring or summer day!
“We have an amazing team on hand to help visitors get the most from their experience, whether it’s helping them identify different birds, or telling them all about the history of the lighthouse.”
As well as the nature spectacle, visitors love being able to explore the unique ‘upside-down’ lighthouse for the first time. With its lamp glowing red at the foot (to allow for the dense, low fog that sometimes shrouds the island), the lighthouse has been restored to give visitors an idea of what island life was like in years gone by.
Along with 11 other lighthouses around the Irish coast, Rathlin West Light is one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, all of which offer unforgettable experiences.
The Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will be open daily until 16 September (March, April and September 11am to 4pm, May to August 10am to 5pm). Admission is free for RSPB members, £5 for adults and £2.50 for children, with last entry one hour before closing.
For more information about the seabird centre visit www.rspb.org.uk/rathlinisland
Last Updated: Thursday 29 March 2018