Meet us on Toome Canal outside The Lock Keeper’s Cottage, a Waterways Heritage Centre and cafe. Here your group will be welcomed onboard the boat by your Skipper and get life jackets fitted.
From the moment you set foot onboard you can relax and sit down to enjoy a peaceful cruise along Toome Canal, a quiet and idyllic haven for birdlife, dragonflies and otters. Our Skipper will tell you the stories of Toome Canal; from it’s busy role in Northern Ireland’s sand industry to the part it played more recently in filming the Game of Thrones HBO series. As you go through the historic Lock Gates and into Toome Bay you will hear how some of Irelands oldest human artefacts were discovered in this ancient area.
As you leave Toome Bay you will get a sense of the vast and rugged nature of our wild Lough Neagh and marvel at the first settlers and their perseverance in forging a life here. Those first settlers would no doubt have counted fishermen among their community, and that tradition of fishing on Lough Neagh continues to this day. We may encounter some of the local fishermen on Lough Neagh and they are always happy to say hello and show us what they are doing. Eel fishing is a longstanding and vital tradition on Lough Neagh and it’s importance is evident in many of the myths and legends of Lough Neagh.
The ruins of Shanes castle stand imposingly close to the shore, with cannon pointing towards the Lough. Built in 1345 by a member of the O’Neill dynasty, it was originally called Eden-duff-carrick. It is a strikingly beautiful piece of architecture, shrouded in mysteries and tales of curses and Banshees.
Close to the castle we will also see a torpedo platform which was constructed in 1942 during World War Two and was used to test torpedoes manufactured at Antrim. It is now a bird sanctuary, and here you will be immersed in the shrill calls of the Common Terns and the screeches of Black headed Gulls, both very vocal birds.
For an added experience we can disembark at Antrim Loughshore Park where you can explore the park, woods, or dine in The Boathouse restaurant (pre-booking recommended). There is also a take-away cafe onsite aptly named ‘The Slipway’. Our Skipper will be waiting to take you back to Toome when you are finished exploring on land.
We know our stories and this experience will stay with you long after you disembark at The Lock-Keepers Cottage and that you too will now feel connected to Lough Neagh as we do.