Situated on the Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland Bushmills is a small village only 2 miles to the North of the famous Giants Causeway on the north coast. The Centre of the Town is charming and makes you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time, a feeling reinforced by the Old Bushmills Distillery and the ancient shop frontages. In the North East Area in county Antrim, Bushmills has the most historic Listed Buildings of any village or town. It is 12 miles from Ballycastle and 7 miles from Coleraine.
The Mills on the River Bush
In the 17th Century, Bushmills got its name from the River Bush that has its source in the Antrim Hills flowing to Portballintrae where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The mill was in those days powered by this river.
Main Street is a narrow central road that runs through the village and is lined with historic listed shops and houses.
The street also leads to ‘The Diamond’, which is the Town war memorial in the heart of the village.
The MacNaghten family of ‘Bushmills House’ in the 1820s re-invented Bushmills as a market village, established in 1828 with the Market Square later formed around 1840.
As a market town, Bushmills attracted more attention leading to an influx of people. There are seven active water-powered mills along the river, and the region has become a top-rated tourist destination, especially The Giant’s Causeway.
Old Bushmills Distillery and Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Bushmills had five licensed distilleries in 1788, and the Old Bushmills Distillery Company Limited, where Bushmills Irish whiskey (not whisky – thats Scottish Whisky and not to be confused) is distilled, is still a major tourist attraction to this day.
The first licence to distil whiskey in the area was granted to Bushmills distillery in 1608 by King James I & VI, making the Bushmills Irish whiskey the oldest licence distillery in the world. The old Bushmills distillery company limited was set up by Hugh Anderson in 1784.
The Distillery offers several tours to learn how the world-famous triple distilled malt whiskey and single malt whiskey are made and how malt distilling is done!
The current building dated back to the Victorian era and was built in the late 1800s. It’s worthwhile reading about the whole history on the Old Bushmills Distillery’s website.
The old Bushmills Distillery also makes lighter Irish grain whiskey. It is also host to the recently famous ‘Bushmills Live’ festival, described as a music festival and triple distilled handcrafted Irish whiskey from the old Bushmills distillery.
Old Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Bushmills now produces a range of Irish Whiskey including
The cornerstone of bottles produced by the Old Bushmills Dustillery, Bushmills Original is a smooth and versatile triple distilled blend. A whiskey matured in both bourbon and sherry casks resulting in fresh fruit and vanilla note.
Black Bush Irish whiskey combines an exceptionally high amount of malt married with a sweet, small-batch grain whiskey, and then matured in former Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks. This unique recipe means Black Bush has rich, fruity notes and a deep intense character, balanced by an incredibly unique smoothness. The most seasoned of Irish whiskey drinkers know that you can’t beat Black Bush.
Bushmills Railway and The Giants Causeway
The Bushmills Railway meanders through the dunes high above Runkerry Strand on its 15 minutes journey between The Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills.
This Journey is a real treat for train enthusiasts and a magical experience for individuals of all ages! Whenever possible, we prefer to arrive via train at the Giant’s Causeway when visiting! The line starts at the station located outside Bushmills on Ballaghmore Road that leads to Portballintrae.
The Giants Causeway and Bushmills Railway leaves from Bushmills Village on a 2 mile, 20-minute Journey to and from the Giants Causeway. It runs along the trackbed of what used to be the Giants Causeway Tram. A diesel locomotive runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, four times per day, between 11 am and 2.30 pm. Especially children love riding on the train. Visit Giants Causeway and Bushmills Railway for an unforgettable experience.
Places of Interest in Bushmills
These cottages were built by the McNaughten s in the early 1800s for workers on the Dundarave Estate.
The Alphabet Angel
This Bronze sculpture was created in 2004 by artist Ross Wilson and members of the local community. It represents the currency of language and the unique local tongue of the Ulster-Scots dialect. It was the first bronze sculpture anywhere in the world to celebrate the Ulster-Scots dialect.
The Market Square & Clock Tower
The McNaughtons constructed the Market SquareThe McNaughtons constructed the Market Square in around 1840 as the focal point of their new market town. This was also where men, women and children were hired at the twice-yearly hiring fair.
The clock tower is modelled on a classic round tower built in 1874.
The War Memorial
In the middle of the Market Square stands the war memorial, a memorial to those who left Bushmills and never returned in World War 1 & 2. There is also a special plaque to commemorate Sgt Robert Quigg, who won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of the Somme.
The sculpture atop the memorial was created by Charles Hartwell ARA and unveiled in 1921 after a short exhibition in the royal academy in London.
Built-in 1834 as a centre for local authorities, the building,, had apartments for Police officers and jail cells for crooks. Local Judges used the court for petty sessions and misdemeanours predominantly. The building was used as a courthouse well into the 20th century.
The local Enterprise agency is now developing the buildingThe local Enterprise agency is now developing the building into a hub for creative industries. They received a £5.1 million grant in 2019 to carry out the work. The hub will feature a café, workspace for 14 businesses, event and retail space and deliver activities and workshops in culture, heritage art, crafts, food, tourism,, and creativity.
Palmer and Bonner Mills are the only surviving corn mills on the river bush. Both have been carefully restored to their former condition with working water wheels. During its peak, there were seven water wheel driven mills working in Bushmills with the last ceasing in the 1960s
The Salmon Fishery
Since the early 1970s, the Bushmills Salmon Research Station has monitored the salmon population in the River Bush. Today this facility is an internationally recognised research facility providing long term scientific data on salmon stocks.
Bushmills Memorial School
Built in 1927, the Bushmills Memorial School was designed by Architect Clough William-Ellis.
William-Ellis had served in France with the Welsh Gaurds and Royal Tank Regiment during world war 1, where he was awarded the Military Cross. On his return from the front he designed many prominent war memorials of the era and also designed Bushmills Memorial School.
He is possibly most famous for designing Portmerrion in Snowdonia, which was used as the filming location for the 1960 clut drama The Prinsoner starring Patrick magoohan. He also designed the Giants Causeway Memorial School situated over looking the World Heritage same site.