Cushendall is a village historically in County Antrim in North Ireland; those counties have been abolished and it's now part of Causeway Coast and Glens District, with a population of 1363 in 2006. Its name Cois Abhann Dalla means "foot of the River Dall". Together with Cushendun to the north and Waterfoot to the south, it's the main base for exploring five of the Nine Glens of Antrim: Glenballyeamon, Glenaan, Glencorp, Glendun and (most scenic, and most touristy) Glenariff.
Ulsterbus 150 runs from Ballymena (for trains from Belfast) to Rathkenny, Cargan, Parkmore, Glenariff, Cushendall (45 min) and Cushendun. There are 5 M-F and 3 on Saturday.
By road from Belfast the quick route is M2 / A26 to Ballymena then A43 through the hills. A scenic alternative, especially from Larne ferry port, is to follow the coast road through Glenarm and Carnlough.
The main roads have a sparse bus service, but you need your own wheels to explore the glens.
- 1 Curfew Tower is the central landmark of Cushendall, a sturdy pink sandstone turret erected by Francis Turnly circa 1817 "for the confinement of idlers and rioters." He'd made his fortune with the East India Company and the design supposedly reflects those he'd seen out east. The context was that both Revolutionary and Napoleonic France had been defeated, but post-war civil unrest was growing, such as the Luddite movement, and Ireland was effectively under martial law for the first half of the 19th century. The tower contains a dungeon but it's not clear if any curfew-breaker was ever cooped up within; perhaps it had a salutary deterrent effect. In the 1990s the musician Bill Drummond (b 1953) of KLF famously burned £1 million (1,371,595 US$, 272,991,158 Sri Lanka rupees, 527,987 Omani rial . . . ) but found enough left over to buy the tower, and set it up to house an artist-in-residence programme.
- 2 Glenballyeamon is the glen rising southeast from Cushendall. A lane winds up it, eventually joining A43 the Glenariff Road out of Waterfoot. This crosses the moor southeast and descends towards Ballymena through Glenravel, sometimes considered as a tenth of the Nine Glens.
- 3 Glenaan branches off A2 a mile northeast of Cushendall. The name means "glen of the tomb" referring to Ossian's Grave, a Neolithic court tomb on the hillside. In legend Ossian or Oisín is a warrior poet, son of Finn McCool who built the Giant's Causeway. He marries a spirit queen and resides in Tir na nÓg for what he thinks is 3 years but is actually 300, and his mortal years catch up when he returns. Somehow he's contrived to die and be buried in multiple spots, and Glenaan is one of the contenders. Most of the legends and poems of Ossian were notoriously fabricated in 1761-63, so maybe what's really interred here is the literary reputation of the culprit James Macpherson.
- 4 Layd Old Church is all that's left of a 13th century Franciscan friary. It remained in use as a parish church and cemetery to 1790. Tiveragh Hill is the scenic lookout on the nearby cliffs.
- 5 Glencorp is the glen connecting Cushendall and Cushendun. It's traversed by Tromra Road the modern A2 and the old highway now called Ballybrack Rd. Its name means "glen of bodies" but there isn't a graveyard or known battle site, so the origin of the name is unknown.
- 6 Cushendun is the next village north, at the foot of Glendun, one of the Nine Glens. Carra Castle at the north end of the village is the crumbling ivy-clad ruin of a 14th century tower-house. The caves on the shore south of the river are just small gullies at the base of the cliffs.
- 7 Glendun is named for its peat-laden river. A narrow lane winds up it; Ronan's Way is a 3.4 mile hiking loop onto the hillside. The lane joins Glenaan Road at the head of the valley.
- 8 Altagore Cashel along Torr Road is a ringfort with sturdy stone walls. These were common in the Iron Age, but Altagore is probably later, say 600-1000 AD.
- See Ballycastle for Torr Head and Fair Head further up Torr Road, and for the two northern glens of Glentaisie and Glenshesk.
- Red Bay Castle is the stump of a medieval turret south edge of Cushendall just before Waterfoot. It was rebuilt and destroyed on several occasions, finally by Cromwell in 1652.
- 9 Waterfoot is the village at the foot of Glenariff: see below for the forest park. There's pubs and B&Bs in the village.
- Ardclinis Church is an overgrown ruin, probably 13th century, on A2 a couple of miles east of Waterfoot. It's the source of the beautiful Ardclinis Crozier, now in the National Museum in Dublin: there's a copy in St Patrick & St Bridgid's RC Church in Waterfoot.
- 10 Hidden village of Galboly is on the hillside further east of Waterfoot, reached by a steep track from A2. This farming village was never connected by utilities or tarmac roads. It was abandoned in the 1950s, though a Trappist monk spent his last years here to 2013.
- See Larne for the two southern glens of Glenarm and Glencloy.
- Cushendall Golf Club is on Shore Rd north side of the village. It's nine holes, so 18 holes off blue tees is 4379 m, par 63, visitor fee £20.
- Cushendall Sailing & Boating Club are in Red Bay south end of the village. They organise lessons for all levels of ability (minimum age 8), fun sailing and races.
- 1 Glenariff Forest Park, Glenariff Rd BT44 0QX. Daily 08:00-dusk. Glenariff is the most touristy of the Antrim Glens; it's traversed by A43 but the forest park gets you away from the main road. The forest is mostly planted. Various walking trails, most popular is the 3 mile Waterfall Walkway, from the car park you descend steps and boardwalk to the waterfall in the gorge. There's a caravan park Mar-Oct, tourers £22 but no campsite. Car £5.
- Heart of the Glens Festival is held over a week in August but is cancelled in 2021. The next is probably 6-14 Aug 2022 but tbc.
- Glens Of Antrim Féis is a Celtic festival held in Waterfoot on various dates in early summer. The programme for 2021 is tba.
- Eurospar is the convenience store in Cushendall, on the main road and open daily 07:00-22:00.
- There's an ATM in the filling station on the main road.
- Upstairs at Joe's, 23 Mill St BT44 0RR, ☏ . Daily 12:00-21:00. Seafood restaurant plus a few meat and veggie options.
- There's also a pizza place and a Chinese.
- Two pubs in Cushendall are side-by-side on Bridge St: Central Bar and Lurig Bar. Both serve food and have rooms.
- McCollam's Bar is round the corner on Mill St next to Joe's Seafood.
- Saffron Bar is in Glenariff village.
- Mary McBride's is the main bar in Cushendun and has food.
- In early 2021 most accommodation is closed, or only available for self-catering.
- 1 Cushendall Caravan Park, 62 Coast Road BT44 0QW, ☏ . Council-run site open April-Oct for tourers and campers. They also have camping cabins.
- Glendale B&B, 46 Coast Road BT44 0RX (just north of caravan park), ☏ . Welcoming spacious B&B in village centre.
- Village B&B, 18 Mill St BT44 0RR, ☏ . Friendly B&B in a 1780 townhouse, bikers very welcome and they have a secure bike-yard.
As of March 2021, mobile coverage is poor in Cushendall - you might manage a call with Vodafone. There's sometimes a better signal on the roads out of town. As for 5G or Giga-speed, dream on.
- Ballycastle is a seaside resort with ferries to Rathlin Island.
- The coast west of Ballycastle has the big tourist sites of Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, Giant's Causeway and Bushmills.
- Larne is an ugly industrial ferry port, but has surprising attractions nearby, such as The Gobbins.