Bushmills | The Story So Far
Bushmills village, originally known as Portcaman, dates from Norman times (1150-1520). The Normans divided lands into structured deaneries and parishes, each with its own church. The River Bush acted as a boundary between the parish of Portcaman on the west bank and the parish of Billy on the East. With the abandonment of Dunluce Castle and the adjoining village in the mid 1600’s the parishes of Dunluce and Portcaman merged.
As water powered industries developed from the 1600’s so did the village and the village name. At one time there were seven mills working the river Bush – corn mills, flax mills, paper, timber and a spade mill – and 5 distilleries.
With the “discovery” of the Giant’s Causeway by the wider world in the 1700’s Bushmills became the gateway for visitors eager to see the mysterious grandeur of the Causeway. By the mid 1800’s Bushmills could also boast at least 3 hotels, a busy livestock and produce market and a thriving distillery. Much of the village was built by the Macnaghten family including the Market Square and Clock tower, the Court House, Kane’s Commercial & Family Hotel and the new bridge.
In 1883 the world’s first hydro electric railway began operating from Bushmills to the emerging fashionable seaside resort of Portrush with its railway terminus from Belfast. Ironically, when the tram line from Portrush was extended to the Giants Causeway Bushmills was bypassed and the hotels went into rapid decline.
With water power giving way to stem, gas and electricity the village was left to rely on the success of the ‘Old Bushmills’ Distillery and it wasn’t until the late 20th century that tourism began to re-emerge as a significant benefit to the town.
Fortunately Bushmills suffered little from unsympathetic developments of the late 20th century and with nearly 90 listed buildings Bushmills is officially designated as a Conservation Village.
Today Bushmills is reasserting itself as the gateway to the Giant’s Causeway and benefits from some thriving community groups. Over the last 25 years many new ventures have opened to welcome visitors including restaurants, gift shops, a new visitors centre for the distillery, art galleries, Park & Ride to the Giant’s Causeway, a 68 bed youth hostel, a 4 Star hotel and a 5 Star caravan park
So here’s Bushmills – we hope you have time to see the sights, shop, take refreshments, relax and enjoy.
Brighter Bushmills: Grocers