Covering 383 square kilometres, Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles and is one of the earliest known inland sites of prehistoric man in Ireland. It is generally shallow with an average depth in the general body of the Lough of 9 metres (30 feet). The area around Lough Neagh is one of the most important bird habitats in Western Europe. A haven for wildlife and home to a wealth of flora and fauna, Lough Neagh provides a unique and valuable natural resource, offering a very productive eco-system, which supports thousands of wildfowl and a large-scale eel fishing industry.
The Legend of Finn McCool
The famed warrior giant, Finn McCool, was in hot pursuit of his rival the thieving Scottish Giant. The Scottish Giant could run faster than Finn and in a short time had almost reached the coast. Fearing he would lose him, Finn scooped up a mighty handful of earth and rocks and hurled it far into the sky towards the fleeing giant. But not knowing his own strength, he overthrew his target and the Giant Scot made his escape. The great mass of rocks and clay flew far out into the sea where it became the Isle of Man. In the place from where the rocks where taken, there remained a giant hole. Gradually it filled with water to become ………… Lough Neagh.
The Legend of the Overflowing Well
A well stood in the centre of the space now occupied by the Lough, the waters of which were supposed to possess some wonderful charm and to be under the influence of the fairies. An old woman, who locals believed to be a witch, looked after the well. It was her responsibility to close the gate when visitors left. However, one day the aged damsel forgot to do this and the water then overflowed and followed the terrified witch as far as Toome. There she was thrown into the water by the local people and she forfeited her life for her lack of care. When the overflowing ceased the Lough remained.
The Legend of the Under Water City
A long time ago the lands of Ireland were kingdoms with many houses, fine castles and towers. Deep within one of these kingdoms was a magical spring of bright fresh water. The people of this kingdom turned to greed and began to rob and cheat their neighbours. At first the spring watched and did nothing, but then it rose up in anger and drowned the entire kingdom. But still, on certain days, it is said that the towers of this lost land can be seen shimmering far beneath the waves of what became known as Lough Neagh.
Whatever its origin, Lough Neagh continues to attract visitors from near and far.