Carrickarede Rope Bridge


Mill Isle, Ireland

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Artist's Description

Carrickarede Rope Bridge County Antrim Northern Ireland

The bridge I chose to represent Northern Ireland as it is a symbol of crossing over a tumultous time; and shows that there are two sides to our country with many difficulties in between.

Northern Ireland has a population of 1.75 million; and after many years of conflict often referred to as ‘the troubles’; we have related interests with both the United Kingdom government and the government of the Republic of Ireland. Dating back 300 years, Carrick-a-Rede is a Rocky island connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge. It is one of Northern Ireland’s best-loved attractions Rocky island connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge Exhilarating coast path experience Site of Special Scientific Interest: unique geology, flora and fauna Fantastic bird-watching

Maximum of eight people on bridge at any one time. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope suspension bridge near, Ballintoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The bridge links the mainland to the tiny Carrick Island. It is thought salmon fishermen have been erecting bridges to the island for over 300 years. It has taken many forms over the years. In the 1970s it featured only a single handrail and large gaps between the slats.

The current bridge, tested up to 10 tonnes, was built with the help of local climbers and abseilers in 2000. Although no one has fallen off the bridge, there have been many instances where visitors, unable to face the walk back across the bridge, have had to be taken off the island by boat.

The bridge is owned and maintained by the National Trust, spans 20 metres and is 30 metres above the rocks below Today the bridge is mainly a tourist attraction, with 250,000 visitors in 2007 (March to October). It is still used by fishermen during the salmon season, which lasts from June until September, however there are now very few salmon left. In the 1960s, almost 300 fish were caught per day, but by 2002, only 300 were caught over the entire season.

The bridge is now taken down every year in late October or early November, depending on weather conditions, having been put up in March. The area is exceptional in natural beauty with stunning views of Rathlin Island and Scotland. Underneath large caves are visible, these caves once served as shelter for boat builders during stormy weather.

Spanning a chasm some eighty feet deep is the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Its construction once consisted of a single rope hand rail and widely spaced slats which the fishermen would traverse across with salmon caught off the island.

The single handrail was subsequently replaced by a two hand railed bridge, the current, caged bridge was installed by the National Trust during Easter of 2000 as a further safety measure.

Although no-one has ever been injured falling off the old bridge, there have been many instances of visitors being unable to face the return walk back across the bridge, resulting in them being taken off the island by boat.

A collection of old photographs in Sheep Island View Hostel show a local man doing various stunts on the bridge which include riding a bicycle across it and performing handstands on a chair in the middle.

Originally a ‘seasonal’ working bridge for the fishermen, since the demise of salmon fishing along the coast, the bridge is nowadays more widely used by passing visitor’s and marketed as a tourist attraction.

The area is exceptional in is natural beauty, to the left as you come down the steep hill is Larrybane headland which once stretched out towards Sheep Island and had a promontory fort on the top dating to 800AD, underneath large caves once served as home to boat builders and a safe resting place from winter storms.

During the 1950’s blasting, quarrying and shipping of limestone removed most of Larrybane Head, Iit is well worth a walk down to the old quarry area as some incredible views can be enjoyed from here

It is a little walk out to the rope bridge but the views and adventure make the hike all worthwhile. Some people even find walking over this 80 foot high, wind swept bridge, scary.

The bridge connects a very tiny island to the mainland. I found transversing the 65-foot bridge worth the scenic views one receives from the island, but it is a long and rugged walk from Larrybane to the bridge and back. Good car parking is available however. I only go there nowadays with visitors from overseas so if you’re ever in NI, let’s go for it. The Carrick-a Rede Rope Bridge is located on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland, east of Ballintoy; and is run by the National Trust.*

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