Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Strangford Lough Day


The gentle sea breeze was upon us today as we cruised on the National Trust launch from Whiterock to Island Taggart, on Strangford Lough, County Down.

Five of us departed at about nine-thirty, passing Conly Island, which is heavily forested and has a dwelling at the shore, and Dunsy Rock, where we checked the tern population.

Alas, I cannot remember the species of tern! There was a large blackish one in the middle of the island which the others stayed clear of, seemingly with a tendency to prey on the others' eggs.

We passed Castle Island and Islandmore, Faulkner Country. Sir Dennis Faulkner CBE VRD UD DL lives on or beside Castle Island, where the ruinous Ringhaddy Castle stands picturesquely.

Ringhaddy Castle is one of the most completely surviving tower-houses in the county, retaining its gables and one original wooden window. There are two periods of building here. 

The ground floor, which had a stone vault, dates from the 15th century, while the upper parts were rebuilt in about 1600. It is rectangular in plan with small turrets at the north-east and south-west angles, one with the stair and the other with a latrine chute. 

There are large fireplaces on the first and second floors, and an attic in the roof. The castle seems to have changed hands between Bryan McArt and the English in the early 16th century, and it is likely that the earlier castle was McArt’s stronghold, slighted when he withdrew, and rebuilt by the new English owner. 

Underwater investigation has confirmed the presence of a stone slipway beside the castle, and water transport was clearly of great importance in this location. 

Sir Dennis's nephew, (the Hon) Mike Faulkner lives with his wife opposite, on Islandmore, in the Blue Cabin. Sir Dennis has a fine old boat moored between the islands.

Ringdufferin estate, beautifully situated directly to the north of Island Taggart, is splendidly maintained and landscaped.


Our purpose today was to declare war yet again on the invasion of gorse on Island Taggart. Much still remains, though we have a good part of it under control and chemical spray must be used to destroy the stumps and roots of any we have cut down.

We lit several bonfires as well.

I stopped at the Balloo post office earlier, where the lovely Nadine made me a delicious roast beef salad sandwich.

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