Mill Isle, Ireland

From Mill Isle, Ireland, a tradiional monochrome photographic artist specialises in abstract realism and the interplay of light and...

Strangford Lough

My Neighbourhood ~ Shores of Strangford Lough

Ragman’s photographic work on Strangford Lough is featured
and Ragman will be interviewed on
Turn O’ The Tide
on Scrabo Radio 15th to 22nd June 2008

I am proud to live on the shores of Strangford Lough an internationally recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

Strangford Lough (from the Old Norse: Strangrfjörthr meaning “strong ford” describing the fast flowing narrows; and Loch Cuan in Irish meaning the calm lough describing the gentle waters of the mud flats) is a lough in County Down, Northern Ireland, separated from the Irish Sea by the Ards Peninsula.

It is a popular tourist attraction noted for its fishing and the picturesque villages and townships which border its waters. These include Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula which is connected to Strangford across the lough by a small car ferry.

The island studded sea lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering 150 km². Almost totally landlocked, the lough is approached from the Irish Sea through the eight kilometre long fast-running tidal narrows, which open out into more gentle waters where, it is said, there are 365 islands, one for every day of the year. In reality there are 70. Countless tidal rocky outcrops called pladdies litter the lough and mudflats, along with marshes, rocks, bays and headlands. The lough is a conservation area and its abundant wildlife recognised internationally for its importance.

Strangford Lough is an important winter migration destination for many wading and sea birds. Animals commonly found in the lough include common seals, basking sharks and Brent Geese. Three quarters of the world population of Pale Bellied Brent Geese winter in the lough.

Just this week April 2008 Strangford Lough became home to the birth of a new industry as the world’s first commercial tidal power station was installed in the narrrows. The 1.2 megawatt underwater idal electricity generator, part of Northern Ireland’s Environment and Renewable Energy Fund scheme, will take advantage of the fast tidal flow in the lough which can be up to 4m/s.

Although the generator will be powerful enough to power up to a thousand homes, the turbine will have a minimal environmental impact, as it will be almost entirely submerged, and the rotors turn slowly enough that they pose no danger to wildlife

Horse Island

Horse Island is one of 365 islands on the Strangford lough, only a few of which can be walked unto by foot when the currents and tides permit. This is one of them. Named since you can travel on to it by horse when the tide permits.

Most of the islands are hidden underwater all the year round.

Portaferry Pier

To cross Strangford Lough you take the ferry from Strangford County Down to Portaferry on the Ards Peninsula. There are no bridges, but the ferry runs four times an hour, on the half hour from the Downside, and on the quarter hour from the Ards side.

Castleward Boathouse
On the edge of the Strangford Lough, just outside of the village of Strangford is CastleWard Estate, a National Trust property well worth the visit

Castleward Boathouse

Ballydorn Lightship @ Whiterock

Apart from lighthouses the lough had one lightship to warn boatmen ~ Ballydorn is now tied up permanently off the shore at Whiterock. (wanted to keep this monochrome as well but the red really does stand out)
Make life an open gate

Audley’s Castle @ Castleward

Audleys Castle

There are thousands of these small stone towers in the Irish countryside; they are one of the commonest of archaeological sites, which tells us one thing: these were not buildings put up for the higher aristocracy, but for lesser lords and gentry. They were built in the late Middle Ages (roughly 1350-1550). From written documents we may note the name of the family who owned it in a certain year but rarely anything else.

You reach Audley’s castle up a gentle slope. It consists of a tower set within a yard (technically known as a bawn) which is enclosed by a thin wall, with a simple gate. The door of the tower is guarded by a high arch stretching between two turrets. Men on the roof level could drop things from behind this arch on to anyone standing outside the door below; the boiling oil of myth. This is nonsense: the price of olive oil was far too high to waste, and dropping liquids through air is the best way to cool them, so that the boiling water or whatever would simply be pleasantly warm when it landed. What was dropped were rocks, cheaper and better.

Once inside you see that the tower has one main room on each floor, with one or two subsidiary rooms off each of the big ones. The ground floor has small windows and no fireplace or latrine: this was not a floor for anyone to live in, but was for storage of food and drink. The first floor has better windows, a large fireplace and access to a latrine; this was a room for the owner to live in and entertain his friends.
It also has a chute for throwing dirty water away, so the large fireplace was also probably used for cooking on. The second floor was probably the lord’s private room for sleeping and his family life: servants and others could be accommodated in the attic.

Strangford Lough Sundown

Is there anything nicer than watching the sun go down on a beautiful day out; especially when you are overlooking Strangfrord Lough

Boatman of Kearney

And finally an evening at Kearney. On the Ards Peninsula between The Irish Sea and Strangford Lough is my home village of Kearney, a 9th century fishing village.

Thanks for looking in and for your comments which are always appreciated


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