Coastal Opportunities | 100 Volunteers wanted for Rathlin Island Seabird Centre

Do you dream of escaping the rat race? Fancy living and working on Rathlin Island – Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island?

If so, RSPB NI would love to hear from you! The nature conservation charity is on the lookout for 100 enthusiastic volunteers to help excite, inform and inspire visitors to the unique Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre in county Antrim.

Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre

The beautifully coloured Puffin One of the many summertime inhabitants of Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island is home to around 125 residents but in spring and summer the island’s ‘population’ explodes, as tens of thousands of seabirds come ashore and nest on the craggy cliff stacks. Kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and, everyone’s favourite, the puffin jostle for space to breed and raise their young – the sight, sound (and smell!) is like nothing else.

Rathlin Island A great place to spend some time volunteering!

Last year more than 17,000 people flocked to see this amazing spectacle, with almost half coming from outside the UK.

As well as the breathtaking colony, visitors were delighted to be able to explore the unique ‘upside-down’ West lighthouse for the first time. With its lamp glowing red at the foot (to allow for the dense, low fog that sometimes shrouds the island), the lighthouse has been restored to give visitors an idea of what island life was like in years gone by.

However it just wouldn’t have been possible to give guests such a great experience without the help of the many dedicated volunteers.



The 2016 team ranged enormously in age, hailed from all parts of the UK, Ireland and further afield and had various levels of knowledge about birds and nature. Their reasons for volunteering were just as varied. Some wanted to gain experience in their chosen career path, while others wanted an active working holiday – 164 steps from the visitor centre to the bottom of the lighthouse is a fast-pass to fitness!

Others had a passion for photography and loved exploring the island’s nooks and crannies on their days off. Stunning scenery as far as the eye can see, including views of Fair Head and the Mull of Kintyre, made for many a postcard-perfect shot. For many of the volunteers though, just getting a taste of island life, meeting new people and experiencing the wonderful sense of community made their stay truly unforgettable.

Volunteers are needed from mid-March to mid-September 2017. Accommodation is provided and a minimum commitment of two weeks (Monday to Monday) is preferable.

Interested? Find out more by emailing volunteers@rspb.org.uk or calling RSPB NI on 028 9049 1547.

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me ann@coastmonkey.ie or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22