14. Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
Continuing with extremes, Rathlin is the northernmost part of Northern Ireland, and the only inhabited island off the shores of Northern Ireland. Of prehistoric volcanic origin, Rathlin is today home to tens of thousands of seabirds – a total of roughly thirty bird species, and popular with birdwatchers. For Viking fans, Rathlin was the site of the first Viking raid in Ireland, in 795 (according to the Annals of Ulster), and Robert the Bruce once sought sanctuary on the island. Today’s population is about 125, though up it was over a thousand people until about a hundred years ago. It is accessible by ferry via the port of Ballycastle.
East Lighthouse on Rathlin Island. Picture by Bernie Brown.