Rathlin Island lies six miles off the north coast of Northern Ireland and can be reached in about 25 minutes by a Fast Ferry from Ballycastle Harbour in Co Antrim.
We decided to pay the Island a visit (July) and caught the 11.00 hrs Fast Ferry over to Church Bay where we made the Information Centre our first port of call!
When we enquired about the availability of Gluten Free Food we were told that the eating venues on Rathlin are aware of the demand for GF food and are doing their best to cater!
We only had a few hours to spend on the Island, and there’s much to see, so we decided to try for a quick bite in The Water Shed Cafe where we found the owner had Gluten Free options mentioned on her Menu Blackboard so that was a good start!
The Water Shed’s main business is providing Crepes for non-coeliac folk but on the top shelf of the display cabinet we found GF Tray Bakes, Carrot Cake and a large GF Chocolate Cake! The Chocolate Cake was excellent and later we sat by the shore and ate some home made GF sandwiches we had brought with us in case the GF search got desperate!
To be fair, the available range was limited but when we got talking to the Owner it became clear that she knew about the GF diet, cross contamination risks and was keen to expand her GF range so the next time you’re on Rathlin pay the Water Shed a visit and see what’s new for Coeliacs!
See their Facebook page here:
Beside the Children’s Play Park along the sea front you’ll find Jack’s Ice Cream van. Very often, when we approach this type of venue and ask if the Ice Cream is Gluten Free we receive the blank look, the shoulder shrug or a simple “don’t know” but not at Jack’s Van!
Jack answered yes straight away and followed it up with “but the cones not gluten Free”. Jack knows his business so if you fancy a GF Ice Cream look for Jack’s Van beside the play park.
We know of two other eating venues on the island –
McCuaig’s Bar – their website menu shows chips, battered fish and peas and all the reports we have seen about the meals are positive although that particular dish is unlikely to be suitable for a Coeliac!
However, one Coeliac visitor recently enjoyed a meal of fresh fish and boiled potatoes and that worked very well so, as in any eating venue, you need to talk to the staff, confirm you are Coeliac, and work with them to get a meal.
The other venue is the Manor House Café & Restaurant which also has accommodation. We haven’t eaten there but following a conversation with a member of staff we feel there is a clear lack of knowledge about Coeliac Disease and the Gluten Free diet so by all means try it but we would suggest caution.
Any Coeliac planning to go and stay for a few days self catering should bring their food with them as the island shop has a very limited range of products and nothing we saw was Gluten Free.