Thursday, 21 July 2011

Island Taggart Day

I have spent a wonderful day on Island Taggart with seven other National Trust staff and volunteers. We embarked from Killyleagh Yacht Club and motored northwards to the isle.

Today we were clearing a large field of thistle; and we also tidied up the little orchard beside the derelict farmstead, giving the trees "breathing-space".

We lunched beside one of the ruinous dwellings to the north of the island, self munching corned beef salad sandwiches and tea.

Island Taggart is now a property inalienably held by the National Trust. It lies between Ringdufferin directly to its north and Killyleagh, the nearest substantive village, to the south. The island is one mile long and a quarter of a mile wide at its widest point; a total area of 94 acres.

Its length and the height of its two drumlins make it particularly attractive in the southern half of Strangford Lough. From the higher points there is a fine prospect of varying habitats: from the eastern side, the main body of the lough with its marine life, sea-birds and the landscape of the Ards Peninsula; while, to the west, the sheltered mud-flats and salt-marshes with their population of waders and waterfowl.

The principal farmstead (top) with its stone-built, erstwhile slate-roofed, single-storey derelict farmhouse with its farm buildings (a store; cow byre; calf-boxes; and hay-store) are all stone-built, partly slate. An old well is located just to the side of the sunken lane which runs from the east shore up to the farm; and there is an orchard nearby.

One small, ruinous cottage is at the northern tip of the island; two other cottages, which are within fifty yards of each other, lie at the eastern side of the island about two-thirds of the way up from the southern tip; and the main farm sits at the top of the hill in the middle of the island.

The main farm, with farm-house, outbuildings directly opposite, farm-yard, walls and pillars with "bap" toppings, an old orchard, a stone well, privy and other features, is substantial enough and could conceivably be restored at some future date. A lane ran from this farmstead down the hill, past the well (marked on the map), to the eastern shore and still exists today. Two further wells served the cottages to the north of the island.


Mad Mandy Moans said...

How wonderful would it be to retore the island and buildings and live there? Row into town for supplies. But one would need internet access. Living in isolation on a fabulous place with so much thriving nature is one thing but I draw the line at not having the blog or FB. The island is going to attract a lot of bird watchers et al if not already. MMx

Timothy Belmont said...

Indeed, and that's precisely what I joked to Craig about - Had his lordship web access, a distillery and convivial company (!xoxoxoxo) the dilemma would be resolved. ;-)