This place is closed right now. I think that's a shame. NOWHERE on Earth could you get a better view of the legendary Antrim Coast Road than from the top of Chaine Memorial Tower. Still, you can have fun visiting the place, and seeing this very impressive monument even while its doors stay shut.
As you drive down Tower Road you see the point of the monument high above the rooftops of houses, like some extraordinary space rocket. Round the corner to the shore and you'll be astonished to see this replica of an Irish Round Tower, proudly standing at the end of its long causeway out across the beach. It is fully 27m high, so the locals who know it all love to come and take their picture with it, or see a spectacular sun rise from the ocean behind this great spire of rock.
From the north the view of the tower is a little lost against the massive modern edifice of Ballylumford power station. From Islandmagee in the south you'll find a dazzling viewpoint at Ballylumford Harbour. There is the tower, standing just offshore, with the receding headlands of the Antrim coast successively fading in sequence off behind. Depending on the weather you'll see a lot of Scotland on the horizon. The Antrim coast starts in Whitehead with a trip round the star attractions of Islandmagee, including this unique view. If I get time, I'll return to see the Sun rise here, and the Moon.
The Tower was built in memory of James Chaine, the local MP behind Larne Harbour and much of the town's industrial growth. Locals tell me he was buried standing up, so he could still look over the area. Over the arched doorway of the tower is this inscription:
This Tower was erected and road leading to it made by the contribution of every class in this mixed community irrespective of creed or of party. All cordially united in esteem and affection for the memory of the late James Chaine of Ballycraigy and Cairncastle, Co Antrim who represented the County in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and ireland from February 1874 until May 1885, and who was founder of the sea route from Larne to the Scottish Mainland.
Built in 1887, the tower became a lighthouse in 1899, shining for a century.
Nearby you'll find a monument to those lost at sea with the vessel Princess Victoria, and a plaque dedicated to the 1914 gun-running ship Clyde Valley. That also features with Chaine Memorial Tower on the big mural you see when you drive into Larne from the south. The likeness of the tower is also used for the letter "L" on the road signs that tell you you're entering the borough.
So I recommend any traveler should go see this brilliant big thing, and get a photo.
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