Spanning the short, but vertigo-inducing gap between mainland Ireland and the small rock outcropping known as Carrickarede, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and its previous incarnations have been in use for hundreds of years, allowing salmon fishermen to reach the secluded waters around the island.
While no one lives on the green crags of Carrickarede island, salmon fishermen from the area have been visiting the spot for hundreds of years to drop their nets far from meddling hands and boats that might scare off the catch. To reach the isolated shores, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was built, albeit crudely at first. The span, which crosses a mere 66 foot gap, is suspended almost 100 feet above the crashing waves and rocks below and has existed in some form for over 350 years. As recently as the 1970s the bridge was little more than a series of precarious wooden slats strung across the chasm with no more than a single guide rope to hold on to.
Due to the continued fishing off the shore of the island, the salmon population no longer yields enough to make such hunting worthwhile, but the bridge remains. Today it is supported by steel wires and rope, and the wooden path across the bridge is no longer quite as dangerous as it once was. It is mainly used by tourists or visitors wishing to take in the stunning view of the surrounding nature from the small island, but that does not mean that the rope bridge is any less frightening to cross. There are often people who will themselves across the swaying expanse once, but are then too scared to take it back across, having to be ferried from Carrickarede by boat.
Know Before You Go
Avoid this attraction on windy days; if the weather is too turbulent, the gates will be closed off for Health and Safety reasons, leaving you to miss out.Be aware that the bridge is non-accessible for those with mobility difficulties; there is a good distance to walk before arriving at the bridge, and some steep steps to traverse before crossing it.