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Lough Neagh
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The Lough Neagh Destination constitutes the entirety of Northern Ireland, including the cities of Belfast and Londonderry. The destination is named after Lough Neagh, which supplies 40% of drinking water for Northern Ireland and is the largest lake in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the British Isles.[1] Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, features a number of historical attractions, most notably the Titanic Quarter, which has a museum with multiple exhibits dedicated to telling the story of the Titanic’s creation and ill-fated journey across the Atlantic. Some of the city’s other attractions include the Grand Opera House and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.[9] For those who are warm-weather travelers, the time recommended as the best for them to visit is between June and August when there is the least amount of precipitation on average and temperatures are consistently around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.[3] A number of myths and legends surround the creation of many of the destination's natural features. Concerning Lough Neagh itself, one myth claims that the lake was created after a hero scooped up a patch of earth to toss at a rival, with the patch left behind filling with water to become the lake. Similar myths can be found relating to the Giant’s Causeway, a stretch of rocky beach with over 40,000 pieces of basalt rock.[7]

What Lough Neagh is known for

Named for the largest lake in the region and encompassing all of Northern Ireland is the Lough Neagh Destination. Due to its size, the destination contains a considerable number of cities and towns, including Antrim and Newcastle on the east and Donegal and Letterkenny on the west. With that being said, the two most notable cities in the region are Londonderry (also known as simply Derry) and Belfast, with Belfast serving as Northern Ireland’s capital city. There are a number of attractions in Belfast that tourists may visit. One such attraction is the Titanic Quarter, which houses a large museum dedicated to the creation of the Titanic as well as its maiden and only voyage into the Atlantic Ocean.[9] Other significant attractions include the Grand Opera House, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Donegal Square, and Crown Liquor Saloon, among others.[6]

Throughout the destination are also a number of natural formations that people can visit. As stated before, Lough Neagh is a large lake that tourists can swim in or boat on. There are two islands on the lake, Rams Island and Coney Island. Both can be visited and explored by boat, with the former having been purchased by a relatively prominent family called the O’Neills in 1804 who landscaped the 40-acre island and built a home on it, and the latter containing evidence of human inhabitants from as early as 8000 BCE.[4] Other activities that can be undertaken around Lough Neagh as well as many of the other lakes in the area are cycling or walking along the perimeter of the lakes or going fishing.[9]

Those that are historically inclined may enjoy some of the ancient structures that can be visited throughout the Lough Neagh Destination. One such structure is Carrickfergus Castle, situated in Carrickfergus, which offers audio tours of the edifice and can be explored at one's own pace. Another similar building can be found near the Giant’s Causeway called the Dunluce Castle. This castle as well as other sites throughout Northern Ireland were featured in certain scenes of the TV show Game of Thrones.[8] People can also make trips to Murlough Bay, Castle Ward, and Inch Abbey, all additional important sites where filming took place for the show. A tour of the studio where the show was made when it wasn’t filmed on location is located in County Down, called the Game of Thrones Studio Tour, where interested parties can learn more about the production of the series. [7]


There are a number of lakes located in the Lough Neagh Destination, such as Lough Melvin, Lower Lough Eme, and Strangford Lough. Lough Neagh, the namesake of the destination, is particularly notable as it is the largest lake in all of Ireland, as well as the United Kingdom and the British Isles. Because of its size, the lake provides 40% of the drinking water for the surrounding area.[1] There is also a variety of different animals that are known to inhabit the lake and wilderness. With regard to fish, eleven species are native to Northern Ireland, such as pollan, Arctic charr, and three races of brown trout. Many of the lakes also boast a considerable bird population made up of about 20 species of ducks, geese, swans, and gulls.[5]

Throughout the year, temperatures vary between 30 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, the warm season of the year occurs from June to September with average temperatures around 65 degrees. November to March constitutes the coldest time of the year with average temperatures usually reaching about 40 degrees. The most precipitation also falls within the cold season, as January often has the most rain or snow out of the year. Based on these factors as well as others, for warm and fair weather travelers the best time of year to visit the destination is between June and August when temperatures are the warmest and the least amount of rain falls.[3]

The geography of the Lough Neagh Destination is mostly flat in composition, with some rolling hills throughout and larger hills and low mountains in the northeast. Along the coast, a number of beaches can be found, where tourists can engage in recreation at their leisure. Many tourists travel to the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing about 40,000 basalt rocks that are polygonal in appearance. The Causeway was caused by a volcanic eruption roughly 60 million years ago, and those who visit will find the rocks separated into three distinct periods pertaining to that eruption, namely the Upper, Middle, and Lower Basalts.[8] 


One of the most unique aspects of the Lough Neagh is the mythology surrounding its creation. These myths date back to at least the Middle Ages, however, it is hypothesized that their actual origin is pre-Christian. In one myth, a young man named Echaid falls in love with his stepmother named Ébliu. While trying to elope, their horses are killed. Following this, they begin to travel to the northern portion of Ireland, with their belongings carried by a large horse they borrowed from the god Óengus. He warns them that should the horse ever stop, they will die. Upon reaching the area of Ulster, however, they allow the horse to rest. While resting, the horse urinated and a spring of water appeared at that spot. Despite trying to cover it with a capstone, one night the capstone is not replaced and Echaid and a portion of his family are drowned in the water, which grew until it created the Lough Neagh.[1] 

With regard to the actual history of the area, it was originally settled by Sir Hugh Clothworthy in the late 1500s. While there is evidence that Vikings had a fleet of ships in the region before this, Sir Clothworthy’s settlement near modern-day Antrim was the first permanent modern settlement around the lake. He was named “Captian of Lough Neagh” by Queen Elizabeth I and given the responsibility to maintain boats that were on the lake and to enforce royal authority in the area.[1]

Belfast’s history is much older than that of many of the surrounding towns. People have been living in that part of the destination since the Bronze Age, with monuments such as the Giant’s Ring and Iron Hill Fort dating back to at least 5,000 years ago. With that being said, for much of the Middle Ages, Belfast remained a small settlement. The town of Belfast was officially established in 1613 by Sir Arthur Chichester. Following the Nine Year’s War in 1616, most of Belfast’s geographic area and assets were sold to English and Scottish adventurers. Since that time, Belfast has grown in both population and industry, with a large portion of this expansion occurring in the nineteenth century.[2]

A large portion of the population today works in the service industry, namely in jobs of a financial, retail, or real estate-based nature. Another notable source of employment is jobs provided by the government in areas of education, health, security, and administration. Tourism is also a major sector, as it accounts for a significant portion of the country’s gross domestic product.[10]

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The Ballylough Bed and Breakfast, located in Bushmills, United Kingdom, features Georgian-style decor throughout the main house and the bunkhouse that can be rented for larger parties. Inside the bed and breakfast are five rooms that guests can stay in from February through October. The home was built in the 1700s, and the owner remarks that she has tried to keep with the original theme and decor style that was used during that time period. Some of the pieces throughout the home have a history that dates back to the early 1900s, such as two chairs that were made for the king and queen to sit on during their visit to the area. The dining room also features a table with history as well. Served each morning between 8:30 and 10 AM, breakfast in the dining room features a "traditional Irish breakfast" made by the owner.

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Bay Cottage Bed and Breakfast was opened by Elizabeth McBride in 2010. The establishment is situated just off Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. A total of three units are offered for guest reservations, two of which are guestrooms on the second story of the building, while the other is a one-bedroom apartment. Breakfast is complimentary to those who are staying in the two guestrooms. All of the breakfast dishes consist of locally produced ingredients, and Elizabeth notes that she can accommodate dietary restrictions if necessary. The property is within reach of several places including the historic market town of Antrim which has one of only two Round Towers in Northern Ireland and the Antrim Castle Grounds and is only 30 minutes drive from Belfast and an hour from the Giant’s Causeway.

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