Ireland’s Smallest Church in the Charming Village of Portbraddon in Northern Ireland

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Alas, the beauty of Northern Ireland continues. My recent adventures here have surprised and inspired me more than I ever could have imagined. While overlooking Whitepark Beach, which is just a few miles from the village of Ballintoy, I took the walk west from the beach, working my way over the sand and rocks to uncover yet another gem: the hamlet of Portbraddon.

Portbraddon, Northern Ireland.

Portbraddon, Northern Ireland.

This small settlement is as uncommercial as they come. Make no mistake about it – Northern Ireland’s North Antrim Coast is one of the most beautiful spots I’ve been to and Portbraddon does a great job of exuding the best of the hidden beauty here.

Arrival in Portbraddon is tranquil, exposed and delightful. There is a road down to get there but only with your own car as they don’t provide any public transport.

The road into Portbraddon.

There are less than 10 houses here and a population of less than 20, which will rise slightly in summer months, as some people have “second houses” for summer holidays only.

portbraddon northern ireland

Downtown Portbraddon, Northern Ireland. Walking along the beach and rocks to discover Portbraddon is nothing short of paradise.

Portbraddon harbour.

There’s no school. There’s no local shop. But there is one absolute must see here. On the main seafront street, up a shy driveway sits a remarkable church: St. Gobban’s Church, which is Ireland’s smallest operational church.

The church in Portbraddon.

While it is the smallest operational church in Ireland, it wasn’t originally built as a church.

P1140329 P1140330 P1140331 P1140332 The Braddon - perhaps a restaurant or pub of the past, or that opens in summer only.

There’s a bell, a cross, a name plaque saying it’s a church and inside bibles and hymn books and an altar, but this was not originally a church. A local myth states that Portbraddon contains the smallest church in Ireland, but St. Gobban’s “Church” was actually built in the 1950s as a small cow shed. The government listed it (which means it can’t be touched/knocked down) assuming this was Ireland’s oldest church.

Once in Portbraddon, be sure to check out the pier, a yacht club, great views over the Atlantic Coast and a small “local pub” called the Braddon which opens during summer months.

The local pub - the Braddon.

Get onto the Ulster Way, and walk round the coast to discover Portbraddon Cave as well. It is an absolutely wonderful experience to visit such a remote settlement here on Northern Ireland’s North Coast.

backpacking northern ireland





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