There are a couple of seal colonies around the island and the one by the South Lighthouse was very accommodating, the inhabitants allowing us to get reasonably close as the light was fading.
|Seal colony by South Lighthouse|
A pretty rubbish photograph this next one, but it shows the view across Church Bay towards St Thomas' Parish Church. The graveyard bears testament to the numerous shipwrecks (40-odd) which lie around the island (hence the presence of 3 lighthouses, I guess). The most famous shipwreck is that of HMS Drake, the sinking of which was not due to the treacherous tides but instead due to a German U-boat, which torpedoed it in 1917 - which would be about 98 years ago if my maths is correct.
The oldest gravestone in St Thomas' dates to 1665, which is pretty impressive and there are several dedicated to sailors who perished in the waters around Rathlin. Some marked with names, others simply 'A Sailor', which is quite sobering.
|Church Bay, Rathlin|
Inside St Thomas' is a wall memorial dedicated to the Rev John Martin, first pastor of the church, who departed this life in 1740. Inscribed on it are the words 'Memento Mori' - 'Remember you must die'. Not a strap-line you necessarily want to have permanently tattooed on the inside of your eyelids, but perhaps worth remembering at times when events are seemingly going badly. It might just help put things in perspective, y'know.
So, it's Au Revoir to Rathlin, we'll be back next year and hopefully take some better snaps. I'll give the closing credits to Missy, since she took way better shots than either me or me mate Dr Charles (although he lives in a different world and mostly takes...gulp...digital images). Missy captured this on her OM-1 as we were leaving the island. Well, OK, artistic licence and all that - she took this somewhere on our trip around the island on Alhamudilah.
Oh - and if you ever get a chance to go to Rathlin Island, just off the North Antrim Coast (or a wee bit further off the coast of Bonnie Scotland, if you prefer), take it.