Eyes in the Forest

Pat McCann By Pat McCann, 17th Dec 2009 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1md3jkr9/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>Ireland>Antrim & Derry

Visit the mystic, ghostly islands in the largest lake in the British Isles. Feel an atmosphere that is intriguing, captivating, peaceful and, above all, truly alive!

Ghosthunter Pensioners.

October 12th was truly a day-to-remember for Men United. A few Cirrus clouds drifted lazily far to the north of a sky-blue sky
As our men awaited the signal to board our craft for the day we were joined by flocks of geese and ducks herded by huge maternal swans on the jetty.
The Maid of Antrim is a beautiful, purpose built craft recently refitted and restored to her former glory.
We were welcomed aboard and shown around the sympathetically and beautifully restored and refitted craft by skipper Conn Law The on-board facilities included toilets, a bar, lounge and a plethora of sophisticated shipping equipment.
As we left Six-mile-water at Ballyronan for the open lough several swans frantically waved us off.
During the outward journey we were treated to commentary by the very knowledgeable and courteous crew. We passed some of the dredging craft that scoop sand from the floor of Lough Neagh. Planes were seen arriving at Aldergrove airport just a few miles to the south and at one point we lost sight of the shore completely, which graphically illustrates the huge area occupied by the Lough. It is the largest lake in the British Isles.
Most of our men have an interest in local archaeology and Ram's Island looks, at first sight, like a Medieval crannog but its history and indeed its pre-history tell a different story.

Ram's Island is located approximately one mile offshore from Lennymore Bay and Sandy Bay on the Eastern Shore of Lough Neagh. Rams is the largest island on Lough Neagh. Lough Neagh was designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site in 1992, 1996 and 1976 respectively. It has been suggested that Rams was formed as a Glacial Esker.
It is nearly one mile long by a quarter of a mile wide at the widest southern end. Notable features of the Island are a round tower (a scheduled ancient monument 58:16, the remains of a Celtic Monastic Settlement about a thousand years old) and the ruins of the O’Neill’s’ nineteenth century summer house.
The Island was last permanently inhabited in the 1920s by the Cardwell family who were caretakers for the O’Neill’s. The remains of Cardwell’s harbour, left dry by the lowering of Lough Neagh, can be seen near the ruins of Cardwell’s little house.
The Island has quite a number of mature deciduous trees including Oak, Ash, Alder, Willow, Birch, Beech, Sycamore, Lime, Horse Chestnut, and unusually Walnut. There are Yew, Snowdrops, Bluebells, Primrose, Lords and Ladies (Jack in the Pulpit), Wild Mint, Wild Garlic, Lesser Celandine, Ferns and a carpet of Daffodils, depending on the season. Fungi such as Scarlet Elf’s Cap and Jelly Ear can also be found. There are also various Mosses and Lichens. Although overgrown, there are remains of a carriageway along the elevated central spine of the island. There are overgrown paths along the entire length of the Island. Its remote, wilderness and ‘lost in time’ qualities make Ram’s a pleasant and attractive place to visit.

Extract from the Ram's Island website November 2009.

Nothing wholly describes the atmosphere of this little island.
Immediately on landing you become a part of it. The island welcomes you to its heart and is even curious about you. As you pick your way through the dense forest the natives – Pheasants, Grebes, Crows, Terns, Buzzards and all manner of four-legged furry creatures – peep out or walk alongside to see what you are doing. Most of them seem quite as ease with humans. Our men, curiously, took to whispering, as if they thought that raised voices might offend some unseen sensibility.
The mystical ambience became heightened as some of us followed long overgrown trails that must have been extensively used in days that have gone.
Other inanimate, eyes stare out too. In the undergrowth they lie, sometimes gaunt and aged, sometimes tired and ossified. These other unflinching eyes are here, beautiful and appealing, here, esoteric and even, in places, quite paradoxically, amusing. There are no words to describe having a sudden glimpse of Ram's wood carvings, hiding among the undergrowth.
That ambience permeates the human soul and none of us will ever forget our, all too brief, sojurn in this mystery ridden place.
A walk around and careful inspection of a monastery and round tower with much speculation about about the origins and purpose of this and that, which seems to accompany all visits to archeological sites, soon had appetites whetted.
Then the high point of the day came - a delicious barbecue in a leafy, shore-side glade prepared and served by the crew of the Maid of Antrim.
As we set off from Ram's for the evening sailing back to Ballyronan a small group of pheasants scratched vainly for morsels that might have been left over. There wasn't much - our lads had been hungry!


Lough Neagh, Maid Of Antrim, Rams Island

Meet the author

author avatar Pat McCann
As an ex schoolmaster I'm all for personal communications. I'm deeply involved with seniors groups and feel a burning need to promote them in all forms and shapes from the mundane to the bizarre!

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author avatar Denise O
4th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Rose*
8th Dec 2013 (#)

Why was the island abandoned?

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