The Lough Neagh Fishing Story
Embrace a Giant Spirit

ABOUT WHAT WE DO

“Lough Neagh’s Stories” offers intimate, experiential history and heritage trips on and around Lough Neagh – by boat and land.

 

Primarily, LNS specialises in tours which provide insight into and showcase:

  • Lough Neagh’s commercial fishing heritage, its characterful people and its quality produce.

  • Loughs Neagh and Beg as literary landscapes.

  • The spiritual and Christian history and heritage of Loughs Neagh and Beg.

 

“Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie. 

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Background

Look at any map of Ireland and there is one pivotally positioned, unmissable, four-cornered northern feature clear to be seen: Lough Neagh.

It is, undoubtedly, a geographic and ecological beating pulse. Incredibly, however, its remarkable attributes and residents - aquatic and shoreline, human and non-human - are not at all well known, neither at home nor further away. They have long been uncelebrated, undervalued and even unseen, for a host of reasons. We at “Lough Neagh’s Stories” intend to change all that! We recognise and appreciate Lough Neagh as not just a natural wonder, and a vast reservoir of water, but also as a vast reservoir of sagas and lore. A veritable library of inspiring non-fiction and awesome legend!

As local people who feel very blessed to have always called the Loughshore “home”, who enjoy the privilege of working Lough Neagh’s waters ourselves, and who have often been frustrated by contemporary lack of appreciation

of our Lough, we have set ourselves a challenge over quite a few years now - the challenge of promoting the stories of our place.... to anybody who’s willing to listen!  “Lough Neagh’s Stories” merely marks the next chapter in this quest.
Therefore, we would be very appreciative of your support on this site. 

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Our advertised itineraries will grant you intimate opportunities to experience firsthand the sights, sounds and sensations of this phenomenally hard-working body of water by boat. And you’ll sample some of its rich stories, all under the stewardship of a passionate, seventh-generation (at least!), practising commercial Lough Neagh fisherman.

Lough Neagh Fisherman Gary McErlain walking up a pier.

Gary

Hailing from Traád, the sole commercial Lough Neagh fishing community in Co. Derry, with its distinctive, unique silver eel fishing heritage, Gary is a Lough Neagh fisherman of many generations and of over thirty years’ experience.

 

“Lough Neagh fishing is in my blood – literally because of my ancestors, and in my own personality and values. I am passionate about it and the Lough, and I never wanted to do any other job. It can often be a very hard way of life, with very anti-social hours, maybe for little reward very often, and much exhaustion – yet I still love it.

 

I can only try to explain it by saying that the Lough, and eel fishing in particular, have a magnetic pull for me .... a pull that most people who live beside the Lough or who work on it, will understand, and are powerless to stop.” “Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie.“Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie.“Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie.

Gary is also an official Lough Neagh Ambassador, qualified tour guide, and a proud member of the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-Operative Society. He articulates his vision for “Lough Neagh’s Stories” as follows: “My priorities in this venture are to do what I can to promote the fishing culture and heritage of Lough Neagh, and the quality, tasty health foods which we are so blessed to have as our main products. Realistically, as things sit, for lots of reasons, mine may well be the last generation of Lough Neagh eel fishermen, so again, I want to do what I can to ensure that now, and in the future, people at home, young people at home, as well as those from further afield, appreciate what Lough Neagh has always given to the people around its shores.”

“Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie.“Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie.“Lough Neagh’s Stories” is owned and managed by Lough Neagh locals, Gary and Anne-Marie.

Ann Marie McErlain holding a Lough Neagh Eel.

Anne-Marie

Reared on the northern shore of Lough Neagh, Anne-Marie savours being “a Loughshore girl”. She works with her husband as a licensed boat-helper, is also an official Lough Neagh Ambassador and is a qualified tour guide. She sums up the appeal which Lough Neagh has for her personally as follows:

 

“I have come to learn over the years that Lough Neagh is an inescapable part of my DNA. For quite a few years, I definitely tried to resist it.  But, as it seems to do with many people, it has won me over by this stage.  All my parents and grandparents were Loughshore people, and all of my maternal grandfather’s family were fishing people. My mother was a lifelong Lough Neagh Ambassador, from long before the label existed.... And then, I went on to marry a Lough Neagh fisherman myself!  So, I really couldn’t help myself eventually falling for the Lough’s charms! It offers me great perspective and clarity on many things, much better understanding of the world and people around me, inspiration for writing, improved physical and mental health, ...and even some soul nourishment!” 

 

An English and History teacher by trade, Anne-Marie often writes her own poetry inspired by Lough Neagh.