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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Ram's Island

It has been a dream of mine to visit Ram's Island, a small island in the middle of Lough Neagh. For years it was almost impossible to reach, unless one had a boat, and even then the island had become overgrown and neglected. In recent times, Michael Savage has been at the helm of a conservation project and along with a band of volunteers and charity funding he has lovingly restored the island to its former glory.

We set sail on Saturday 9 September on Island Warrior, the ferryboat used to take visitors and volunteers to the island. The weather was dreadful, but it was a smooth crossing. When we arrived Michael invited the group into a renovated barge, which now serves as a clubhouse, for tea and coffee. The island is around one mile long and one mile wide, and so it is very walkable. It belonged to the O'Neill family, and in the 19th century it served as their summer retreat. As I said before, it is a woodland, and as such it is well sheltered from the elements. A lot of the ancient trees were vandalised by American soldiers during WW2, and you can still see their carvings in the bark (they were stationed at Langford Lodge in Crumlin). Although I was attracted by the wildlife and nature aspect, I was excited to visit the ruins of the O'Neill summer house and the remains of a round tower, dating back to an ancient monastery settlement.

We'll definitely be back!

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