Discover Church Island Loughbeg
Seamus Heaney Country
Boarding at the Pontoon at Newferry
Your Skipper will greet you at Newferry, conduct a safety briefing and fit you with your lifejacket. To explore Lough Beg and perform a beach landing on Church Island we use a specialised small shallow draft vessel, a Whaly 500R.
From Newferry we glide into the mostly unseen Lough Beg which is a stunning wildlife reserve. Our boat allows us to explore this beautiful reserve without disturbing the wildlife around us.
Listen and watch for the celebrated Whooping Swans of Lough Beg who grace us with their presence year after year.
Situated in the middle of Lough Beg is Church Island, a small mound of land accessible by boat.
Church Island is a treat to see, where there is a church without a spire and a spire without a church. Immortalised in Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Strand at Lough Beg”:
“Where you weren’t known and far from what you knew:
The lowland clays and waters of Lough Beg,
Church Island’s spire, its soft treeline of yew”.
The church here, called Inis Taoide, is over 1000 years old and is reputed to have been visited by St. Patrick. It is a well known local feature and still a site of pilgrimage today.
Here we perform a beach landing on the island, where you can spend time exploring, relaxing, or simply soaking in the atmosphere. We can bring tea and biscuits but you are welcome to bring your own picnic or order a Treat Box from the Lock Keeper’s Cottage at Toome.