CUSHENDUN

Glenmona House O'Neill's Cairn Carra Castle

Cushendun means 'Foot of the Dun', this sheltered and safe anchorage at the mouth of the River Dun has been a landing place and ferry point between Scotland and Ireland since man first settled on the north coast. The picturesque village is situated on a raised beach at the outflow of the glacial valleys of Glendun and Glencorp. In 1830 a plan was put in motion by a local businessman Nicholas Cromelin to develop the harbour commercially so that it could cater for the surrounding district and industrial centre of Ballymena. The architect Sir John Rennie was commissioned for the design but the project failed when the government pulled out from funding it. The village we see today owes much of its character and unique architectural heritage to Ronald John McNeill who became the 1st Baron of Cushendun in 1927, he had plans to develop the village and in 1912 commissioned the architect Clough Williams-Ellis to design a village square with seven house, the remit also included a public hall which was never completed,  later in 1923 the architect was again commissioned to design Mauds Cottages and Glenmona House. Later cottages built in 1925 were designed by Frederick MacManus. Cushendun has a long sweeping beach from the harbour to where the clans would have landed their boats near Carra Castle - the exact date of construction of the castle is unclear but it is known that Shane O'Neill at one time owned Carra Castle and in 1565 imprisoned Sorley Boy MacDonnell there. The two clans had many periods of hostilities between them which was in part encouraged by Elizabeth 1st, who sometimes favoured one over the other. Shane O'Neill was killed in 1567 during a meeting with the MacDonnells at Crosscrene - an old church site in the townland of Ballyteerin, a kilometre or so away from Castle Carra. His remains are said to have been hurriedly buried in a nearby graveyard and his head sent to be publically displayed in Dublin. A cairn to Shane O'Neill was erected on the high ground overlooking Cushendun in 1908. The road from here is known as the Torr Scenic Road and winds steeply up past the cairn and over Tornamoney Bridge where you will find Altagore Cashel. The landscape and layout of the walls and fields in the area are intriguing and of particular archaeological interest. The road from here on takes you past some spectacular costal scenery as it winds its way to Loughan Bay, Torr Head and Ballycastle.

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