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Best Fest in the West at party around lough shore

By Linda McKee

Legendary giant Finn McCool is said to have created Lough Neagh by scooping up the land and tossing it into the Irish Sea to become the Isle of Man.

And the hollow left in the wake of that legendary event now has its own dedicated festival, featuring everything from sporting events and guided walks to food and musical celebrations - many of them free of charge.

The first ever Lough Neagh Fest kicks off today with the Lough Neagh Triathlon at Ballyronan Marina, in which competitors are challenged to a 15km swim in the lough, 40km cycle run and 10km run.

Ten fun-filled days of family events will celebrate the largest inland lake in the British Isles.

Finn McCool himself will make an appearance today at 'Finn's Giant Day Out', an action-packed day of entertainment, boat trips, carnival parade and storytelling from 11am to 5pm at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre.

Other attractions include Flock to the Lough, an evening food festival at Antrim Loughshore Park on Saturday and Sunday August 25-26, with cookery demonstrations from celebrity chef Jenny Bristow, mediaeval banquet, barbecue, fun fair and fireworks from 7pm-9.30pm.

Boat users are invited to come along to the Cruise the Lough event at Kinnego on Saturday, August 25 for the first guided cruise, finishing off with an evening barbecue.

Cyclists won't be forgotten, with the charity cycle Lap the Lough event circling the lake on Sunday August 26.

The trip starts and finishes at Kinnego Marina, with a midway stop at Antrim.

Gerry Darby of Lough Neagh Partnership, which helped coordinate events, said the first ever Lough Neagh Fest promises to show people a different side to the lough.

"We are hoping that local people will support the celebration of the province's most invaluable natural asset," he said.

"There's a fantastic range of events for everyone to enjoy. You can try your hand at sailing, canoeing or rowing a currach for the first time, learn how to build a traditional Lough Neagh wooden boat and take boat trips on the beautiful Maid of Antrim.

"You can also learn about local history and nature with many of the events completely free to enjoy."

There are also canoe nights, sailing days, historical and natural walks and a workshop on how to build a 16ft clinker-built Lough Neagh fishing boat. Among the highlights will be an open currach race in which boatmen will race the traditional fishing craft of the west coast of Ireland as well as trips to the historical islands of Ram's Island and Coney Island.

lFull details are available at or by ringing Lough Neagh Partnership, tel: 028 7941 7941.


From Belfast Telegraph