Continuing north from Glenarm along the glorious coast road which hugs the Antrim shore, we come to Carnlough (‘cairn of the lake’), a village on the bay of the same name and lying at the mouth of Glencloy. The villagers must be made of stern stuff, the harbour here being one of a number of locations on the Northern Ireland coast known for its New Years Day swims. The limestone cliffs in the vicinity have played an important role in the area’s history right from Neolithic times, when the flint deposits in the cliffs served as tools for these ancient inhabitants. Much later quarries were set up to extract the limestone, and the harbour, originally a stone pier built in the 1700s, was redeveloped in the mid-19th century by the Marchioness of Londonderry. The limestone was used for the construction of the harbor, as well as many of the houses in the village, and a 1.5 km mineral tramway was built for transporting the stone.
Another spinoff from this activity was the Londonderry Arms Hotel, built in 1848 as a coaching house. Between 1921 and 1924 the hotel was owned by Sir Winston Churchill courtesy of an inheritance from a second cousin who was a grandson of the Marchioness. The Marchioness, meanwhile, used to stay in a summer residence a few miles to the north of Carnlough known as the Garron Tower, a dark grey castle-like structure with turreted towers. The building is now occupied by St Killian’s College and lies just off the coast road, which here is known as the Garron Road. Back in Carnlough, as well as the charms of the village itself there is a scenic drive called the Slemish Scenic Drive which follows Glencoy up to Slemish Mountain, where St Patrick spent 6 years in captivity.
No piece on Carnlough would be complete without making a mention of one of the most famous former residents of the village, Paddy the carrier pigeon. During the D-Day landings Paddy was sent to France with a coded message on the Allied advance, a secret mission codenamed U2, and remarkably was back home within 5 hours. He was rewarded for his efforts by being awarded the Dicken Medal for bravery, the only Irish pigeon to have received the award. Paddy died in 1954, but his memory lives on in the form of a commemorative plaque erected at the harbour.
Map of the area.
Map of the area.
Photo by Arnold Price, via Wikimedia Commons