Our journey to Coney Island begins from Toome Canal, outside the Lock-keeper’s Cottage. Your Skipper will welcome you at the pontoon and make you feel at ease while your lifejacket is fitted and you step onboard. Your tranquil cruise down Toome Canal is only interrupted by the water fowl and dragonflies that reside here. Relax and enjoy the stories about the vital sand industry and the long gone train at Toome which was used to transport the sand to Belfast. Years later this quiet canal became busy once again with film crew and Hollywood stars filming Game of Thrones. Having been involved in the filming on the canal and Lough Neagh, our Skipper’s stories are of a first hand nature. You will pass through the historic Lock Gates at Toome and into Toome Bay and hear about the 9000 year old human artefacts discovered there, amongst the oldest in Ireland.
As we cruise through Lough Neagh we pass Ballyronan Marina and Ardboe Harbour. You will get a sense of the vastness of this lake, and it’s wild and rugged nature. We may come across the fishermen of the Lough who carry on the age old tradition of fishing for eels. Your Skipper will tell you about this ancient and important way of life, the skills of which remain mostly unchanged over thousands of years.
Arriving at Coney Island, an area of outstanding beauty, will simply take your breath away. Here you will discover a rich history of stories about previous inhabitants, passed down by Peter McClelland, the caretaker and sole resident of Coney Island for nearly twenty years. Our skipper loves to retell Peter’s stories about the feuding O’Neills and the O’Connors in the area, and tales of the future King Edward VII staying on the island with his mistress, Lillie Langtry. Of course Peter himself is one of the stories of Coney; a clever, witty likeable man who is known as Coney’s very own Robinson Crusoe. His care for the island and it’s heritage was exceptional. His welcome to Coney and the stories he joyfully shared will never be forgotten.
On Coney there is long evidence of human settlement dating as far back as Neolithic times. There are historical ruins to see and a wide variety of flora and fauna as well as a resident mink and other wildlife. As well as a 13th century Anglo-Norman motte there is a 16th century round tower which harbours tales of buried treasure. The 120 year old summer house built by the 7th Lord Charlemont who owned the island, still stands, and was, until recent years, home to Peter.
Coney is a very special place with a spirit of it’s own. We’re sure you’ll feel it too.
This is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. Just bring all your rubbish home on the boat. We will have rubbish bags and dispose of them properly for you.
This is not a trip for dogs, no matter how small or well behaved, due to ground nesting birds.