Portballintrae, Bushmills, Coleraine.
A popular seaside resort, Portballintrae village is situated just off the Causeway Coastal Route Road, to the north of Bushmills and to the east of Portrush and Portstewart. Originally a fishing village, nestled around the horse shoe-shaped Ballintrae Bay, it was a cluster of whitewashed fishermen’s cottages nestling around the bay. Today, many of its earlier buildings have been restored and maintained, with several of its original houses still standing along the seashore. It also features buildings of historical interest such as the Seaport Lodge, built in the 1770s by the Leslie family as a bathing lodge.
Testimony to its popularity, American tycoon, Donald Trump, had once considered Portballintrae for a proposed £1 billion golf course complex.
Off the coast of Portballintrae a team of Belgian divers brought up the greatest find of Spanish Armada treasure ever recovered from a wrecked ship. The Girona’s recovered gold jewellery is on show in the Ulster Museum, Belfast.
The charming village also boasts a sheltered harbour, a geological ASSI, a quiet beach, a plethora of interesting rock pools and a beautifully situated nine-hole golf course.
For tourists it makes an ideal base for which to travel to Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway, both located in close proximity to the village.
While visiting the area, be sure to take a trip to the nearby ruins of Dunluce Castle, which sit on the edge of a cliff between Portballintrae and Portrush. The castle was the main stronghold of the MacDonnell chiefs of Antrim.
The Giant’s Causeway Tramway runs through the sand dunes above the largest beach in Portballintrae, commonly known as Runkerry Strand, and Bushfoot Golf Club. This railway, popular with tourists runs between The Giants Causeway and Bushmills.
Life and Legend
Until the property boom of the 1990s, Portballintrae was a quiet fishing village. Men went out in summer to tend their nets and in winter a quieter place couldn’t be imagined. Even the winter storms were softer here, but there are stories to the place. Off the car park at Bushfoot strand, there is the entrance to an astounding monument. Two sets of large concentric earthen rings lie side by side. Locals used to call them the saucers. The rings to the west are built over a spring and four thousand years ago, the builders of this place lined the bowl of its interior with impervious clay to make it watertight. This created an oval sacred pool which points at the midsummer sunset.
Just to the south, the townland is called Ballaghmore, the great road and this is the culmination of the great road which ran from Tara, capital of Ireland, right to this holy place on the North Coast. Bushfoot strand begins at the mouth of the river Bush and the earliest people have lived here too.
Workers on the Causeway Tram collected their axeheads and arrowheads in the winter months to sell to tourists and when the supply ran out, they made more from the flint which is everywhere. Runkerry House stands at the end of the bay. It too benefits from the midsummer sunsets and its sandstone walls shine golden in the summer evenings.
There are other lodges around the village because for two hundred years it was the bathing place of choice of the landed gentry.
In the First World War, a German submarine surfaced just off the coast. The Captain mistook the rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway for a fortification and opened fire. Some of the shells burst over Portballintrae and locals kept fragments of them as souvenirs.
Video produced by Ambient Light Productions