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Cushendun

The small village of CUSHENDUN surrounds the bridge at the mouth of the river Dun. The name meaning 'the foot of the dark brown river ' - is an apt description for the colour of the river as it enters the sea here, having flowed over the bogs and moors below ORRA mountain. On a fine day the bay seems to sparkle as you look out to the hills and shores of the MULL of KINTYRE in Argyllshire. Imagine if you will a time, before the building of the coast road, when, as history records the local population found it easier to bring their necessities from Scotland rather than face the arduous overland trip to Carrickfergus.

South of the river lie the hotels, the salmon fishery, some caves which are well worth exploring and a Roman Catholic retreat (Cave House) - to the North lies the rest of the village. This conservation area, together with the beach and green, is almost exclusively in the care and keep of the NATIONAL TRUST.

Main Street CUSHENDUN is 19th Century vernacular in style, generally black and white in colour and modestly quiet. Villagers lease the houses, shops, public house and tearoom from the Trust who in turn are pleased to promote this unique partnership with the people of the village as 'conservation partners' here at CUSHENDUN.

In 1912 the architect CLOUGH WILLIAM ELLIS, who was also responsible for the Italian style village of Portmeirion in Wales, was commissioned by the Privy Councillor RONALD McNEILL (Baron CUSHENDUN) and his wife MAUD, to design the Village Square. As MAUD originally came from PENZANCE in CORNWALL his brief, as you might expect, was to design it in the CORNISH style. The square consists of two-storeyed terraces with mansard roofs and feature GEORGIAN glazing. The terraces are linked at the corners by twin arches and were planned symmetrically around a courtyard which can only be entered via massive gate piers.

Turning right here and moving towards the sea the delightful MAUD COTTAGES await your discovery - designed by the same architect in 1925 to the memory of MAUD who had died that year. White washed as they are and with hanging slates on the upper storey, it is again important to note that they have a distinctive CORNISH influence.

Whilst you take time to enjoy the magnificent views of CUSHENDUN BAY from in front of MAUD COTTAGES, do take the opportunity to look behind you to where, set among the trees to the North, there are a further 2 distinctive properties - the NEO GEORGIAN style GLENMONA HOUSE and the striking PARISH CHURCH.

GLENMONA was designed in 1923 by Ellis to replace the original CUSHENDUN HOUSE that had been burned down in the troubles of 1921. Of interest at this property is the superb five-arched arcade on Tuscan columns. The PARISH CHURCH , dating to 1839, is sometimes referred to as the poet John Masefield's church; it has a square tower with tall tapering hexagonal pinnacles. With very little effort it is easy to find the grave of BARON CUSHENDUN and his wife, they lie within the grounds here and in the shadow of the perimeter wall.

Across the bay from MAUD COTTAGES lies ROCKPORT LODGE/HOUSE. Built in 1815, this whitewashed GEORGIAN house was the home of MOIRA O'Neill poetess of the Glens. Her 'Songs of the Glens of Antrim' are still cherished in many a cottage here abouts. In the grounds of ROCKPORT LODGE/HOUSE you will easily find the ruins of the small, square CARRA CASTLE . It was here in 1597 that the quarrel between the clans of O'Neill and MacDONNELL came to an abrupt bloody end. During a banquet in his honour Shane O'Neill was killed and beheaded by supporters of Sorley 'Boy' MacDonnell - his head was then dispatched to the Dublin based deputy of the Queen Elizabeth 1. There is strong evidence to suggest and confirm the importance of this Mesolithic site to both the CELTS and the NORMANS and the recent discovery of children's graves within the tower clearly demonstrate that it was considered sacred enough for this purpose.

Experiencing here as you do, the serene tranquillity of Northern Ireland at its best, reflect upon the inspiration given to famous poets Moira O'Neill, John Masefield, Louis McNeice and John Hewitt. Oh how the artists J.H. Craig, Theo Gracey, Deborah Brown and Maurice Wilkes must have suffered endless distraction while yet trying to capture the landscape around you.

May we remind you that CUSHENDUN is a living village and whilst all the TRUST properties are here for your enjoyment, please respect the people and their lifestyle. If you do choose to 'stop awhile' - as the villagers say, then it is indeed easy to understand why this beautiful village, an integral part of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, must continue to be preserved for future generations to savour and enjoy.