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This section of the website is a showcase for the Rathlin island community to get to tell some of their own stories in their own way. Islanders have a passion for the stories and history of their home, whether it is the traditional home of countless generations or a more recent re-location. In particular, there has long been a natural and evident interest of islanders in local history, heritage and culture.

The sections below give some idea of the range of interests that Rathlin encompasses. Please note that the pages linked to from this page are being gradually completed.

East Light Oral History Project

The East Light Oral History Project was carried out by the Rathlin Island Oral History Group (Jessica Bates, Jennifer McCurdy, John McCurdy, Noel McCurdy, Marina McMullen & Margaret McQuilkin) during 2021. This lead to a total of 28 interviews (with 29 individuals) about their memories and stories relating to the East Lighthouse. A book was produced bringing together some of the material collected.

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A professional film was commissioned and made by film-maker Margot McCuaig about Rathlin islander, Noel McCurdy and his time at the East Light and what working there has meant to him.

The final part of the project involved an online event where the film was shown, along with some of the stories and images collected from the interviewees, to the island community. Participants at this event were also encouraged to share any memories or stories they had relating to the East Light. Visual minutes were commissioned for this event and these capture and reflect the event and overall project in a visually effective manner.

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We hope that the project provides an insight into the life and work of generations at the East Light, and the long-lasting impact on the island community.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated and shared their stories and memories as part of this project. The booklet contains only a fragment of the material collected.

The Rathlin Oral History Group would like to thank and acknowledge the support of the Rathlin Development and Community Association and in particular David Quinney Mee and Stephen Ryan in the Rathlin Resource Centre; Commissioners of Irish Lights; the Department for Communities, NI; and the Heritage Lottery. The project was undertaken with funding from the Community Heritage Fund, which The National Lottery Heritage Fund administered on behalf of the Department for Communities. The publication of the book was made possible with funding from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Cultural Arts and Heritage grants scheme. Thanks also to Professor Arthur McIvor, Margot McCuaig and Dr Nic Wright for their guidance; to oral history group member Dr Jessica Bates who brought her professional expertise to managing the collected material; and to purpleTV and Margot McCuaig for the film of Noel McCurdy at the East Light; More than Minutes and Claire Stringer for the visual minutes; Tom McDonnell for the professional photographs; Dr Allison Campbell for all the transcription work and Impact Printing for the printing and design of the book.

Church of the Immaculate Conception


In 2014 the Rathlin parish of the Church of the Immaculate Conception applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for support to address urgent repairs to the church and to make it more accessible. As part of this, work was done to record the heritage of the church in this leaflet and on the parish and island websites - for more information, see this dedicated page. The work was completed in 2017.

Sam Henry Collection


The Sam Henry Collection is a large collection of 7,000 photographs and documents, donated to the Coleraine Museum by his grandson, Gordon Craig, in 2011. Many of these relate to his time spent on Rathlin, initially with the Belfast Naturalists Field Club, and many susequent visits of his own, building up an impressive knowledge of the island and its people. A selection of his Rathlin photographs is available here. (Coming soon.)

National Folklore Collection

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The National Folklore Collection’s photographic collection consists of some 80,000 photographs, the majority of which were taken by members of the Irish Folklore Commission, including Michael J Murphy, author of Rathlin: Island of Blood and Enchantment, the Folklore of Rathlin. Murphy was a frequent visitor to Rathlin, and he took many photographs on the island over the years, many of which are now available as part of the Dúchas.ie project. A selection of his, and others, Rathlin-related images is presented here. (Coming soon.)

HMS Drake


In June 2017 the wreck of HMS Drake was declared a listed monument, meaning that divers can still access the wreck but will not be able to remove anything from it. Learn more about the story of the Drake and her wreck in Church Bay here. (Coming soon.)

Dry Stone Walls


In December 2013, the Rathlin Development & Community Association was successful in applying for a grant towards a dry stone wall project. Heritage Lottery Fund made a 100% award of £52,900.00 “towards the repair and restoration of the dry stone walls in the Church Bay area of Rathlin Island and to train 7 locals in the techniques required to conserve and retain this important heritage for the future.” Find out more about this successful heritage project here. (Coming soon.)



Mapping was an RDCA funded community art project guided by artist and Rathlin resident, Ann Henderson.

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