Monday, 21 September 2020

Portmore Lough

On Sunday, 20th September, 2020, I paid a visit to Portmore Lough and a section of the disused Lagan Canal.

A stretch of the towpath runs from just beyond Lock 26 (Chapel Lock), under Crannagh Bridge, to Annaghdroghal Bridge.

Annaghdroghal Bridge was the first bridge on the journey from Lough Neagh to Belfast on the Lagan Canal.

The walk terminates abruptly at this old humped-back bridge because the stretch of land from here to Lough Neagh is privately owned.

I watched an equestrian event for awhile at Portmore Equestrian Centre, which is beside the lake.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) maintains Portmore Lough today. 

I enjoyed a packed lunch seated on a bench overlooking the lake.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, dated 1844-45, describes Portmore thus:-

"PORTMORE, or Beg Lough, is a lake in the parishes of Glenavy and Ballinderry, barony of Upper Massereene, County Antrim.

It lies half a mile south and east of the nearest parts of Lough Neagh, ¾ north-west of the village of Ballinderry, and 2¾ miles south-west of the village of Glenavy.

It is nearly circular in outline, and covers an area of 283 acres.

It is stored with pike, bream, trout, perch, roach, and eels, and is frequented by a variety of wildfowl.

About 1740, Arthur Dobbs, author of a pamphlet on the Trade of Ireland, then agent to Lord Conway, and afterwards Governor of North Carolina, drained or rather emptied the lake by means of a windmill and buckets; but the water returning either through springs or by a subterraneous communication with Lough Neagh, he was compelled to abandon his attempt to convert its bed into arable land.

On the flat shores of the lake are the prostrate ruins of Portmore Castle, erected in 1664 by Lord Conway; and either within the walls of this castle, or in a sequestered spot in the lake called Sally Island, the learned and pious Jeremy Taylor, chaplain to CHARLES I, and Bishop of Dromore, and Down and Connor, found a retreat during the Protectorate of Cromwell, and composed some of his celebrated and justly admired works.

The preface of the Ductor Dubitantium, in particular, is dated from his study in Portmore, in Killultagh, on the banks of Lough Beg."

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