Lough Neagh island opened to tourists

Rams Island, the largest island in Lough Neagh, has seen around 2,500 visitors thanks to a combination of funding focused on protecting, promoting and enabling the island to be accessed by local and international visitors.

A redevelopment programme has seen the island receive funding from the Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP), which is supported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), to finance the provision of a ferry to carry visitors to Rams Island. A new jetty, an interpretative centre and environmental works are also planned.

The new ferry, called 'The Island Warrior', has opened up the island and visitors can now see at first hand many of the unique features of this nature lover's paradise including its vast bird population, its unique collection of mature trees and the remains of an ancient monastic settlement including a round tower.

Michael Savage, Project Manager from River Bann and Lough Neagh Association (RBLNA), who are carrying out the re-development work, commented: "Our role is focused on protecting and also promoting the island. This is the first year the island has become truly accessible to people, and many locals, having seen the island from afar on the shores of Lough Neagh, are now using the 'Warrior' to visit Rams Island and discover first hand what it has to offer.

"So far, our new visitors have blended in with the unique biodiversity on the island, and we have seen no negative impacts, but as the island becomes increasingly popular we will keep a close watch on our role as guardians.

"The mix of funding for Rams Island has helped us carry out a diverse range of actions, from removing predators from the island which has helped local birds to flourish, to increasing accessibility by boat, and when on the island, by foot."

Vince McKevitt of DARD said: "The Island is a really beautiful place. With financial support from DARD and the Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity through the LNP, and the hard work of the RBLNA, I can see the island becoming an important recreational facility for local people and visitors to Lough Neagh. The work on Rams Island is a good example of how Rural Development funding can contribute to the development of rural areas."

The island has an ongoing events programme and anyone interested in visiting Rams Island should log onto www.ramsisland.org for details of the ferry times.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

23 September 2015
Six Schools Secure Funding For Enhancement Projects
A total of £14 million has been secured to start construction on a further six schools in Northern Ireland. Education Minister John O'Dowd made the announcement as part of the School Enhancement Programme. Mr O'Dowd said: "Ongoing investment in our schools estate is essential if we are to continue to provide a quality education environment.
17 September 2015
Hamilton Signs Off £1.5m Funding For Specialist Drugs
The DUP's MLA has signed off on £1.5 million funding for specialist drugs in Northern Ireland. He signed the plan when he was reinstated as health minister for a "matter of hours" on Wednesday.
01 October 2015
£980,000 To Be Invested In New Arts Centre
Funding has been secured to develop the Seamus Heaney Arts and Literary Centre in Bellaghy, L'Derry. £980,000 is to be invested in the project and Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín made the announcement.
27 July 2015
NIHE To Carry Out External Cyclical Maintenance Works
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) is to carry out External Cyclical Maintenance works in the Barrs Lane area in L'Derry. SDLP Cllr Shauna Cusack has welcomed the work, which is due to start in September.
29 September 2015
Other News In Brief
Two Men Convicted Of Benefit Fraud Two men have been convicted for claiming benefits they were not entitled to at Belfast Magistrates' Court. Desmond Steele claimed Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit totalling £5,036 while failing to declare employment. He was given 75 hours community service.
02 October 2015
Brian Friel Dies Aged 86
Irish playwright Brian Friel has died aged 86. Friel is best known for plays such as Dancing at Lughnasa, Philadelphia, Here I Come and Translations. He was born in County Tyrone in 1929 and moved to County Donegal in the 1960s. He died peacefully at his home after battling a long illness.
21 August 2015
5,000 Pieces Of Litter Per Kilometre Of NI Beach
The average kilometre of beach in Northern Ireland has over 5,000 pieces of litter on it, according to the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful charity. The organisation has been monitoring litter on beaches from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough for the past three years, and have said that the 2015 results "are the worst yet".
04 December 2003
Lough Neagh area to receive £3.2m funding support
The Lough Neagh area is to benefit from a funding package of £3.2 million for a major regeneration initiative. The funding was unveiled today at the formal launch of the Lough Neagh Strategic Fund in the Marina Centre, Ballyronan, Magherafelt.
17 September 2015
Other News In Brief
NI Community Groups Improve Local Environment Three community groups in Northern Ireland have been congratulated for improving their local environment. Ardboe Community Projects, Moortown St Malachy's GAC and Tobin Youth Centre were allocated funding through the Department of Environment's Challenge Fund.
23 July 2015
Belfast Festival To Go-Ahead Despite Funding Cuts
The Belfast Festival is to go-ahead despite loss of funding from its main sponsor Queen's University. The festival has been renamed the 'Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival' and will run from Friday 9 October to Sunday 1 November.
08 July 2015
Funding Allocated For Newry Restoration Project
Funding of £860,000 has been allocated for a restoration project in Newry, Co Armagh. The Public Realm scheme is supported by the Department for Social Development with a contribution of £662,596, with additional funding of £200,000 from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
03 August 2015
Three Rescued After Boat Capsizes Off Calf Island
Three people have been rescued after their boat capsized off Calf Island, at the northern end of Strangford Lough on Sunday. The three men had been out on an 11ft Dory when it broke down and capsized leaving them to make their way to the nearby Calf Island and raise the alarm.
25 April 2008
Lough Neagh Refurbished Facilities Opened
The recently upgraded facilities at Battery Harbour on the shores of Lough Neagh were officially opened this week by Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew.
20 July 2015
Other News In Brief
Diver Missing For Two Hours Rescued Portrush and Red Bay RNLI rescued a diver who was missing for two hours off Rathlin Island on Sunday. Volunteers from Portrush RNLI were alerted at 12.35pm that a man who had been diving off a wreck with a group of others was missing on the east side of Rathlin Island.
14 October 2005
Minister opens £1m refurbished Discovery Centre
Rural Development Minister Jeff Rooker has officially opened the newly refurbished Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at the cost of £1 million. Speaking at the opening, the Minister highlighted the importance of protecting the environment, whilst also promoting business opportunities for local people.