I had a wonderful day today, it was a tour of Lough Gill that was on my ‘to do’ list since last year. I contacted Eddie who has a boat and runs tours. It’s brilliant because it’s tailor-made to whatever the client wants. Eddie can take you around the Lough, or to the islands. He will stay with you or drop you off and collect you later in the day. I wanted to see the islands, I was hoping to go to Innisfree, Beezies and Church Island but the general consensus was that there wasn’t anything to see on Innisfree and there was nowhere to walk on it either.
It was a very misty start to the day, but really magical heading from the Garavogue river towards Lough Gill. My friend Kate came along with me and we really enjoyed the peace and quiet and being at one with nature.
The two largest islands on Lough Gill, namely, Church Island or Inis Mor, and Cottage Island (also known as Beezie’s Island), each contain ecclesiastical remains.
We headed to Church Island first, there were people camping there and I think they were still asleep so we kept quiet and headed for the church. This is an early Christian ruin and belonged to the O’ Rourkes, chieftains of Breifnet. In 1946, according to the Annals, ‘the church of Inis Mor was burned, and Screaptra O Curnin and the Leabhar Gearr of the O’ Curneens, as well as many other precious objects, were burned.’ The church is said to have been founded by St Loman.
Above is the view from Church Island. It’s a really lovely island, I would recommend spending a few hours out here to explore it properly. We didn’t stray too far from the boat as knowing my luck I would have got lost.
After our little wander around Church Island we headed back to the boat again and went to Beezie’s Island which is also known as Cottage Island but has been more or less renamed after Beezie who used to live there.
The island contains Beezie’s cottage which was occupied, until her death in 1949, the last resident of any island on Lough Gill. Beezie was much-loved by local people for her kindness and hospitality. Her love of nature and rapport with wild animals & birds was well-known. In her early years she was employed as housemaid to the Wynne family of Hazelwood House and when her husband died in 1934 Beezie continued to live alone on the Island, once a week she rowed the 6 miles round trip to Sligo Town for her shopping and pension.
Also on the island is an old church, Eddie was telling us that the island was once a leper colony, we mis-heard him and thought he said leprechaun! So here’s the church with a little ‘visitor’.
Above is the Isle of Innisfree, I may not have got to go on it but there’s a photo of it for you anyway. The rest of my photos from today are here.