Day 135, Tues 16 May
As promised yesterday, a few more words & pictures on Portrush before moving on. Thanks again to Judy (LPO) for more useful contacts, Anthony (Stn Mech) for giving Fondo a fine stable for the night, Tim (ALB crew) and Keith (LOM) for your kind support and encouragement.
I hadn’t realised the significance of the glass cabinet that grubby Fondo had been leaning against all night in this very atmospheric old Boathouse. Surrounded by the service boards listing significant Lifesaving rescues for the last 126 years and many photographs and paintings capturing some of those moments, the glass cabinet contained some memorabilia gems, including several of the actual medals awarded to crew members of this station. One in particular, one of the first awarded to a Portrush Lifeboat man, caught my attention.
If you opened the link to this Station’s history in yesterday’s post you may have noticed that the most recent medal awarded to a Portrush man was to the current Station Mechanic, the modest and cheerful Anthony himself, to whom I must now bid a fond and privileged farewell.
A later-than-normal start after such welcome distractions. Time to get pedalling along the Causeway Coast Road of County Antrim.
The rain stopped and the visibilty improved. Soon, after a long climb, the view over the brow took my breath away as much as the effort to get there. This stretch of road truly is another stunner. The Emerald Isle has just layed out another vista, completely different to those well trodden (or, more often driven) rugged and ragged, westward pointing peninsulas of Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare. Today’s ride was way above expectations. Some very demanding climbs, white-knuckle descents around the most picturesque coastline with views across to Scotland, from the first tantalising glimpses of Islay (where, just over a year ago, Fondo & I enjoyed a tour of the island’s famous malt whisky route), the Paps of Jura and finally the nearest, clearest, vast mass of the Mull of Kintyre. Not forgetting to occasionally look inland, over my right shoulder, at a landscape to match the splendour of many a Scottish Glen. Perhaps the story of the origin of the Giant’s Causeway is true! Or maybe not. The tempting detour down the pay-to-enter cliff path to Northern Ireland’s No.1 tourist attraction will have to wait until senior brother, Geology John, turns up to share the experience very soon.
Meanwhile, I have an appointment at another Lifeboat Station. A couple more ridiculously steep plunges towards sea level down to Cushendall in Red Bay. A fine setting for a very proudly perched, large Lifeboat Station. Not only does this location warrant an Atlantic 85 ILB but recently, the addition of a Trent All-weather Lifeboat on trials here, suggesting that this notorious north coastline, with exposed headlands, cliffs, beaches and rocky islands, and a vast expanse of open sea, needs serious ocean-going kit!
Thanks Liam (Station Mech), Joe (DLA), John W (ILB Helm/ALB Nav), Sarah Mc (ILB Cew), Danny (HonSec) and later on, Andrew McAlister (LOM) and Paddy McLoughlin (Cox’n) for everything, from the great welcome, the visit to the temporary ALB location, the useful tips and local information, the accounts of some fascinating Lifeboat experiences and rescues, finding a very good local place to stay and providing another warm, dry, secure place for Fondo.
Later that evening, having noticed the number of McAllister/McAlister connections around the village (shops, estate agents, funeral parlour etc. .) and spent much of the evening in Harry’s Bar talking to a 7th generation Cushendall McA…, I asked another local if he too was one of the clan. “No, I’m not!” he said. “I’m in the minority. There’s a strong belief around here that if you roll back any stone within sight of The Mull of Kintyre, another bloody McAllister will appear. That’s why we leave the stones alone.”
And there was I, thinking I was one of a rare breed. No more talk of McAllisters. I promise.
I didn’t say it!