Saturday, 28 April 2012

Island Taggart Day

I've spent the day on Island Taggart, 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 about ninety-four acres.

We were supplemented today by a group of archaeologists from the Ulster Archaeological Society, so there were almost thirty of us today.

The dinghy held only six persons, so Craig had to operate a shuttle service, which took some time. Thompson's Quay is directly opposite Island Taggart.

The archaeologists were surveying several features on the island, including a large kiln on the east side, and a well. The well had been concealed under overgrown grass for decades or longer, so it was rather gratifying to re-discover it.

Island Taggart is one of the largest islands on Strangford Lough. Visitors are welcome. There are good anchorages off the eastern shore and at the north-west corner of the island, depending on the weather, although care on a falling tide is advisable.

Old farm buildings give a good indication of life on the island and, indeed, it was used by Little Bird Films to make December Bride, a story about County Down folk at the turn of the 19th century.

Thick hedges full of bird life, relatively unspoiled meadows full of wild flowers, and small marshes bright with Yellow Flag iris and orchids make this a lovely island to visit, whilst in high summer it is full of butterflies including large numbers of Common Blues and Small Coppers.

Simmy Island (Sir William and Lady Hastings) lies at Island Taggart's north-western tip; while the Dunnyneill Islands are to the south-east.

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.


Heather said...

Great post to compliment a great day!

Anonymous said...

Think the Dinghy may be overloaded !!

Timothy Belmont said...

Hi Heather

Super day out LOL!