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16 October 2014

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Antrim Armagh Down Fermanagh Londonderry Tyrone
Benone Strand Toome to Mount Sandel Toome to Mount Sandel Banagher Dam
Lough Neagh to Lough Beg clipWatch Video Lough Neagh to Lough Beg map


Key Points

Shane's Castle estate is the family seat of the O'Neills of Clandeboye.

It was named after Shane O'Neill, who began building here in the 16th century. The current buildings, which overlook Lough Neagh, are only a short distance from the ruins of the original castle, which fell victim to fire in 1816.

The grounds here are rich in wildlife, and are home to herds of deer, rare breeds of cattle, and a huge range of insects and birds.

The most obvious remains of the castle are its majestic towers, but on the eastern wall there's a curious female figurehead with a sad expression. It's said that if she ever falls, the O'Neill family will come to an end.

What we see here is the mouth of the Lower Bann at Lough Neagh.

This area is rich in history. It contains some of the largest areas of untouched lowland bog in Northern Ireland and has offered up some fine examples of artefacts from the Bronze Age, including richly decorated swords. Some of the bogs have been designated as areas of international importance.

Each spring and autumn, this area is a rich staging post for migrating birds on their way to and from latitudes further north.

One of the principal areas for the birds to rest and feed is Lough Beg. Around 300 acres here have been turned into a nature reserve, with Church island as its focal point.

The island features a spire that was built for Bishop Hervey - the architect of Mussenden Temple - in the late 1700s. It's known locally as Hervey's Folly, because its only purpose was to allow the bishop to see a spire from the house he was building at Ballyscullion.

The spire was hit by an aircraft during the Second World War, but has been straightened by the Department of the Environment.

Shane's Castle is the family seat of the O'Neills.

The original castle was ruined by fire in 1816.

The Lower Bann is a rich staging post for migrating birds on their way to and from latitudes further north.

Church Island is situated in the middle of a 300 acre nature reserve.

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