According to legend, Lough Neagh (pronounced “nay”) owes its origins to the mythical giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill, who was so unimpressed by east Tyrone’s low-lying terrain that he took a massive lump of land from Ulster and hurled it across the Irish Sea. It landed midway and became the Isle of Man, and the hole it left behind became the lough. Its shores provide excellent fishing and plenty of bird life, though both the surrounding land and lake itself are almost featureless. Small settlements house eel fishermen, whose catches go to the Toome Eel Fishery at Toome at the northern tip of the lake.

Slight relief is to be found at lakeside ARDBOE, halfway along the lough’s western shore, where there’s a tenth-century high cross. The elements have eroded the various biblical scenes carved onto the sandstone almost beyond recognition, but its exceptional size – almost six metres high – is impressive. The cross stands in the grounds of an early monastery associated with St Colman, but the ruined church nearby dates from the seventeenth century and is of little interest. On a humid day in early summer, you’ll also not fail to be impressed by the swarms of black Lough Neagh mayflies.

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