A centuries old crofter’s cottage in Islandmagee has been given a new lease of life thanks to a loving restoration and sensitive modernisation, making it the perfect retreat and launching pad to explore the best of the Causeway Coastal Route.
Cloghfin Cottage dates back more than 250 years, steeped in maritime history and has been converted to feature a stunning double bedroom, with a sofa bed providing an option for two children.
Although completely renovating the existing building was not going to be the cheapest or easiest road to go down, it was an easy decision for owner Janice Bisp to make.
“The cheapest option would have been to flatten it,” she explained. “But I just couldn’t entertain that idea, as it had so much history. We know that almost 300 years ago the building would have been a two-room cottage with a barn at the side of it and a home to proud islanders.
“We did a lot of the work ourselves – it took all our energy for most of a year but my husband and I loved working on it together – we had such fun.”
Whilst bringing the cottage up to date Janice tried to always have the history of the building in mind and to incorporate it into the new build as much as she could. She loves to explain to guests about the original features of the building.
Nestled on Muldersleigh Hill in scenic Islandmagee, Cloghfin Cottage overlooks Larne Lough and offers guests stunning views of the surrounding area. The name Cloghfin actually comes from the original name of the townland as identified in one of the oldest maps of the area.
The restoration was undertaken to retain the building’s charm whilst installing modern features such as electric roof windows and underfloor heating, in order to retain as much space as possible.
Janice, who previously travelled the world as a nurse, pulled on her own experiences to bring guests a unique and memorable holiday.
“I travelled in New Zealand and stayed in batches – like little holiday homes on the coast. I loved it and it was the best experience. It’s that sense of fun and adventure that I want to create here for people to enjoy.”
The cottage is located on a smallholding with sheep and lambs (when in season) as well as free range hens and beehives and guests are encouraged to collect their own eggs for breakfast and cuddle the lambs.
Janice is always happy to share her knowledge on bee keeping and can provide extra suits if people want to get a little closer and learn more about the process. She is extremely passionate about sustainability and would welcome the opportunity to share this with guests.
Guests also have access to a shared country flower garden complete with a hammock, BBQ facilities, picnic table and a large purpose-built fire pit. Janice and her husband have also found the perfect spot on higher ground to watch the sunset and have utilised this vantage point by placing a sun seat there.
“We call it the beer seat; you can go up there with a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses and the sunsets are right opposite you and are just beautiful. They really are awesome, and you can see them reflect on Larne Lough. It’s worth taking a picture of.”
The cottage provides an excellent base from which to explore the local area.
Cloghfin Cottage is within walking distance to the Gobbins Visitor Centre which takes tours to the famous Gobbins Cliff Path. Visitors can also enjoy an ice cream at the famous Rinkha Ice-cream Parlour and the cottage is about a 10 minute walk to Port Road Beach, a pebble beach perfect for kids to skim stones.
Located within an easy drive of Browns Bay beach and Portmuck harbour, it is also about a five-minute drive to the Victorian town of Whitehead with a choice of places to eat and shop, Whitehead Railway Museum and the impressive Blackhead Coastal Path.
Janice’s love for the local area is clear and she hopes to pass on the knowledge and joy she experiences living in her special smallholding to her guests.
“I just want people to come and enjoy themselves.” says Janice, “It feels like it’s all still new to me as well. I didn’t grow up here, but I love it. It’s just great fun and I think everyone should experience it.” For more information visit www.facebook.com/cloghfincottage/.