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Dungannon's
Black Lough

John Gregg discovers the Black Lough, one of Dungannon's 'best kept secrets' according to thos who live there...

Tyrone - The Black Lough, near Dungannon

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The Black Lough in Dungannon is part of the system of lakes and waterways that were built to feed the Moygashel mills. Dungannon park has the oldest dam in Ireland.

 

Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939The Black Lough, Co. tyrone
The Black Lough, Co.Tyrone - a best kept secret?

YP&M reporter John Gregg met up with three people who have a special fondness for this place.

Ronnie Irvine of Cookstown, tells us that as long ago as 1964 he came here as a young teacher to sit and listen to the birds while he took his lunch. “The lough was always a favourite walk for local people” he says.

Mary Ferris says that the Black Lough is home to her. She feels lucky to live beside it.

“Even in the winter when it rains or snows, there is still that beauty here”, she says, "It never stops us walking around this lough. It is surrounded by green hills. People come to feed the ducks & swans."

Joan Carson has also been coming to the Black Lough for about 30 years. She particularly likes winter, spring and early autumn when she says it is a tremendous place to watch birds. "We get a lot of birds here. In a couple of weeks the first summer migrants, Sandmartins, will hopefully arrive".

The Black Lough, Dungannon, Co TyroneJoan says for many years the lough has been one of Dungannon’s best kept secrets, known mainly to birdwatchers. On a nearby crannog there are Tufted Ducks & Cormorants which come in from Lough Neagh. You can also see Mallard, Golden-Eye and Widgeon here & Teal, not to mention the unusual “Ruddy Duck”.

Joan says she still doesn’t know where the Black Lough actually gets its name but explains that Ballysaggart is townland of the priests. Towards the north of the lough was the place where the monks lived.

In 1963, one of the last severe winters, it is a matter of record that a Dungannon man drove his car across the surface of the frozen lake. Joan tells how she has skated on the lake in the winter during the ‘70s and ended up reported in the local newpapers for “endangering life”!

Mary Ferris thinks that the most scenic view around the lough is that from the south bank looking at the lake with the town in the bakground with the hills. On a summer evening, she says, “its amazing the number of red skies you get”.

Audio Clip : John chats with Joan Carson, Mary Ferris & Ronnie Irvine

 

Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939Left to right - Joan Carson - Mary Ferris - Ronnie Irvine
Left to right - Joan Carson - Mary Ferris - Ronnie Irvine

Do you know where the Black Lough got it's name? Let us know - reply below.

Relevant weblinks:

The Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs - www.ufrc-online.co.uk

The Mid-Ulster Walking Club - www.midulsterwalkingclub.org.uk

Your responses:

Ani Quinn - Jan '07

I was born at Edendork and raised in the white city, Dungannon. I have lived in Essex for the last 25 years. The Black Lough was the local " lovers lane", needless to say there are many fond memories,It also was where as boy racers we would compete in races around the lough, starting at the ponda and runing anti clockwise finishing back at the sprickley well. Truely a gem of a place.

Robert Molloy - Aug '06
I was born in Dungannon in 1938 and moved to Australia in 1956. In the late 40s Bobby Neil had a flat bottomed boat which we borrowed and rowed around the lough. Drew Watt later aquired the boat . I spent many a school holiday rowing over to the island and swimming across the lough in the early 50s. About 1952 there was a dry summer and the water level was very low. The area between the island was dry and we could walk across. The north east corner was a damp bog. It was then that Eskragh lough dried out as well and some prehistoric lake dwellings were exposed and a bronze age axe head was found.While pike were the main catch in the lough I remember bringing home lots of perch. There was a fairly solid freezing in 1947 and again in 1953. I still can hear the morse code ping as we skimmed stones across the ice and the swans coming into land and sliding for 100 yards across the ice. I was pleased to see the lough again in 1999 after a 43 year absence.

GFH - June '06
This is an excellent site. I was born in Dungannon 63 years ago, then moved to Lurgan, then the past 42 years in England. I still visit cousins and friends in Dungannon. Like you JPG I have fond memories of the Black Lough. I caught my first "Jackpike" at the sprickley well and the sluice like you JPG. I always visit this area and did so in early June this year. The well and sluice have not changed much except for being over grown, but the water is still running from the Lough. I took some photos from this point looking up to the "Big Hill" as we called it, and down to the "Windmill" (Beechvalley). The Railway station is gone and has been replaced with a beautifull little park.

JPG - March '06
Fantastic Place, My grandfather took me there every weekend to walk the dogs, and in winter we skated or walked out to the island.
Manys a day was also spent in the 'sprickly well' over near the sluice.
Feeding the birds, getting pecked by the geese.

When ever I get back to Dungannon, I always go out to the lough, it reminds of my grandfather (who was involved in the car caper) and happy times.

Kenny Taggart - March '06
Thanks for the article on the Black Lough. I live in New Zealand but was brought up there so it brings back fond memories.

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