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Sale across the sea to find a new landlord for Rathlin

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McCuaig’s bar on Rathlin Island

McCuaig’s bar on Rathlin Island

McCuaig’s bar on Rathlin Island

The owner of Northern Ireland’s most remote public house has called time on the landmark building after putting it up for sale for £500,000.

McCuaig’s bar on Rathlin Island, off the Co Antrim coast, is Northern Ireland’s only offshore pub.

It has long been locally owned but this sale could see someone from outside the close knit community take over for the first time in years.

Bertie Currie, who has co-owned the bar since 1992, said it offered an ideal opportunity for a young family hoping to escape the urban rat race and claimed islanders would welcome newcomers.

“It has been in local hands for years,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“This will only be the second time it has changed hands and I reckon if a young family come it could be another 50 years before it changes hands again.

“It is the focal point of the island. It’s the only licensed premises and now with the new, upgraded ferry service the potential is there for a new owner to expand.” There are less than 100 permanent residents on Rathlin but during the summer months the population swells dramatically with thousands of tourists.

The introduction of a new catamaran cut travel time between Ballycastle and Rathlin to just 20 minutes and increased the number of daily sailings to 12.

During the winter months, however, life can be much more difficult.

“Last year was the worst for weather, we were cut off for about two weeks. Normally if you are only cut off for a couple of days if it is bad,” Mr Currie said.

Although there are no living quarters with the bar, an increase in the number of homes for rent on Rathlin means the new owners will not have to make the daily ferry crossing from the mainland at Ballycastle.

And despite the recession, estate agent Sean McIlroy said there had been significant interest in the bar.

“It has been steady, coming mainly from the wider north Antrim area,” he said.

“There have been a couple of inquiries from Enniskillen and Armagh and we have actually had a couple of offers which is good in this current climate.

“It is not an ideal selling time but Rathlin is such as special place and the pub has unique selling points.

“It is the only licensed premises on the island, so it is a social meeting place and the hub of the community. If you have a wedding reception you hold it in the pub, funeral receptions, christenings are all accommodated in the pub.

“It’s also the first place you see when you step off the boat.

“It would be ideal for someone who wants the best of both worlds — a profitable business and a special way of life. It is a fine wee property.”

Belfast Telegraph