History tour of Cushendun

As I’ve mentioned on here before we live in Cushendun at the weekends.

With it being the 12th holidays this week, we’ve been staying up since Tuesday which has been great as it’s also the Cushendun festival week.

I recently did a walking tour of the village which focused on the five ‘Big Houses’ and I found it really fascinating. So when I saw another walking history tour was taking place during this week’s festival I made a special effort to get along.

The tour this morning was taken by local historian Alastair McIlhatton who took us around Cushendun pointing out places of interest and telling us all about the people who lived here, not least Lord Cushendun, Ronald McNeill, for whom Cushendun was designed in memory of his Cornish wife Maud.

The tour culminated in the Cave House, one of the five ‘Big Houses’. As the name might suggest, entrance to this spectacular property is through winding caves! Incredible!

The property, which was owned by the Sisters of Mercy, is currently on sale for £375,000. It needs complete restoration but how lucky is the person who acquires it, with unbelievable sea views and unrivalled privacy.

The tour was so informative and I love hearing all about this beautiful village. Check out the video and pics below to see how we got on during the tour!

Through the caves to the Cave House

 Cave House
Cave House

Cave House

Cushendun Beach


Cushendun Big Arts Festival

We love spending every weekend in Cushendun so we were really looking forward to attending our first Cushendun Big Arts Festival.

The festival, which is now in its fifth year, is a four-day event with the likes of music, drama, talks, exhibitions, poetry, story-telling and comedy.

With Barry being off work for May Day we were able to get along to every day of the festival and celebrate the culture of the village and the wider Causeway Coast and Glens.

One of the highlights for me was the guided walking tour of Cushendun, exploring the heritage of the five ‘Big Houses’, including Glenmona House (now owned by the National Trust and indeed, the hub of the weekend’s festivities.) As someone who is new to Cushendun in the past year, it was great to learn more about the beautiful area!

Barry’s highlight was the two-day foraging course he attended. On Saturday and Sunday he learnt how to identify, forage and cook wild foods, including wild garlic, pig nuts and meadowsweet. He said it was an fascinating course and in fact, he’s already been out foraging on his own since!

The other events we attended were “A Belfast Story”, a play by Sharon Dickson about a girl growing up in the Blitz (which was very similar to my granny’s own personal experience!); the pop-up tea rooms at Glenmona House; the Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market (with handcrafted goods, foods and local produce); the family fun day at Glenmona which included archery and a puppet show; and the art exhibition in the Old Church which showcased photographs by young local children.

The Old Church was of real interest to me as the Cushendun Building Preservation Trust is currently working to restore the church to make it into a permanent community, heritage and arts space.

I really enjoyed the whole Festival and it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves on what turned into a great sunny weekend!

All set for the guided walking tour

One of the five ‘big houses’, Glenmona House

Walking Tour- Cushendun Caves

Walking Tour- Johann the goat

Foraging course- Barry watching intently

Foraging for pig nuts

Old Church

A Belfast Story

Artisan Market


Cushendun- what a difference a week makes!

Barry and I spend most weekends in Cushendun where (if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones), the caves are situated in which Melisandre gives birth to her “shadow baby”.

Cushendun is a small village in the Causeway Coast and Glens which is National Trust-owned. The charming village has always been somewhat of a hidden gem but has grown in popularity over the past few years due to its connection with the HBO fantasy series.

As well as the Cushendun Caves, the local pub, Mary McBrides, houses one of the “Door of Thrones”, a tourism initiative which saw a series of doors unveiled in restaurants and bars across Northern Ireland. The doors have been carved from fallen trees from the ‘Dark Hedges’.

I wasn’t due to give birth until 14th January so Barry and I decided to spend the few days between Christmas and New Years in Cushendun. Plenty of time, I said! The baby isn’t due for another few weeks, I said!

But alas…. there I was on 30th December when the little one decided she would quite like to be born in Cushendun! Yes, I went into labour over an hour away from where I was due to give birth in the Mater Hospital! So, we abandoned ship and made our way down the road, hoping I wouldn’t have the baby on the hard shoulder of the M2!

Thankfully, I didn’t – and in fact, it wasn’t until 27 hours later that little Niamh was in my arms. My waters broke at 1opm on Friday night and she wasn’t born until 1.10am on Sunday morning!

But, it wasn’t long until we where back up in Game of Thrones territory. Yes, a mere five days after giving birth I was in Cushendun, walking the beach and having my first Gin and Tonic in 9 months in Mary McBrides.

We didn’t waste any time, eh?One week later- what a difference a week makes!

Cushendun Beach- January 2017. (Brave kayakers!)

Door of Thrones- Mary McBrides

The River Dun, Cushendun




Merchant Rooftop and seeing the sights of the Antrim coast

This past week has been extremely busy, with little time to sit down and watch the World Cup (which I had been doing religiously since it started!) As a quick overview, on Tuesday I went to a Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast which resembled speed dating as we had two or three minutes with other attendees before the buzzer went and we all had to move on. (Great way to meet other businesses though!) On Thursday I went to Stann and Olly’s for dinner then a “Cocktails and Canapés” event in the Merchant Hotel’s rooftop garden. On Friday, I went to Tullyglass Hotel for a family wedding; Saturday I went to  Drumbo Park greyhound racing; and Sunday we took a trip up to Cushendall and Cushendun for a BBQ picnic and to enjoy the sun! Phew- so a busy week all round but great to see so many new places.

So, back to Thursday evening. It was Barry’s birthday so we went for dinner to one of our regular spots- Stann and Olly’s on the Dublin Road. We’ve always found the food here to be lovely! It’s typical American diner style- think Burgers, Chilli Dogs and Philly Cheese Steak- with music from the 40s/50s/60s playing on the radio and clips of Laurel and Hardy on the TVs. I normally get the Philly Cheese but went for something just a little less American this time- chicken, champ and pepper sauce. Barry had nachos to start and then scampi with a side of Caesar Salad for main. Once again, a nice meal if you’re after a good ‘hearty’ feed.


Stan and Olly’s Nachos



Scampi and Caesar Salad- Stan and Olly’s

After dinner, we headed round the Merchant Hotel’s rooftop garden for an evening of Cocktails and Canapés which was being hosted by the Daily Mirror. What a great venue for a party! It was an evening for those who advertise in the Mirror and I had been invited through my work. I didn’t try any of the food, having just had dinner, but great cocktails! Thanks to the Mirror for a great evening!Image

Merchant Hotel Rooftop garden party


Sampling the cocktails

On Saturday we headed to Drumbo Park for a night ‘at the dogs’. I’d been before and really enjoyed it last time. Not big ones for gambling, we were putting just £2 bets on each race! Out of the 12, I won one race and Barry won four, so not too bad for amateurs!



Drumbo Park

Finally on Sunday we took a quick tour up round the Antrim Coast to see some of the amazing scenery- at lot of it where Game of Thrones is filmed! It was a beautiful day so we stopped of at Cushendun beach for a BBQ picnic before heading round to the caves where, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan,you’ll know Melisandre had her shadowy baby! It was a great day to just relax and enjoy the sun, and wind down after the busy week! Image

Cushendun Pier





Cushendun caves- Game of Thrones


ImageMere enjoying a quick swim!