Seabird Centre

Along with 11 other lighthouses around the Irish coast, Rathlin West Light is one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, all of which will offer unforgettable experiences and create a deep appreciation of the role of lighthouses and the maritime and seafaring story of the island of Ireland.


In summer, the seabird colony is a real assault on the senses – the sight, sound (and smell!) of tens of thousands of birds, including puffinsrazorbillsguillemotskittiwakes and fulmars jostling for space is like nothing else.


These birds spend most of their lives at sea, and only visit sites like Rathlin for the brief summer breeding season. The seabirds start leaving the island to head back to sea from mid-July, with razorbills and guillemots going first, followed quickly by the puffins. The kittiwakes and fulmars will remain for most of August.


The birds will start returning to Rathlin from March onwards.


The lighthouse situated at the heart of the colony is a spectacular feat of engineering, clinging to the cliff face with the lantern gleaming red at its foot. It offers visitors a chance to explore this unique, yet fully operational ‘upside-down’ lighthouse, its history, its people and the role of Irish Lights in maritime safety today.


Seabird Centre

The Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre is situated four and a half miles from the harbour – roughly a 90-120 minute walk through some steep hills.


RSPB NI staff and volunteers are on hand to welcome visitors and will provide binoculars and telescopes for visitors’ use. There is an admission charge to the Seabird Centre for non-members. Adults £5, children £2.50.


Please note that while the main visitor centre is accessible, there is an 89 step descent to the viewing platform, or 164 steps in total to the bottom of the lighthouse.


Dogs (except for guide and assistance dogs) are not allowed in the Seabird Centre and Lighthouse. There are facilities to tie dogs up outside the Visitor Centre.


For more information about the Seabird Centre visit or head to to find out more about the Great Lighthouses of Ireland trail.