New book of captivating essays and images illustrates life on and around Lough Neagh

From artists to poets, archaeologists and historians, the story of the largest freshwater Lough in the UK and Ireland is told in the newly launched The Lough Neagh Atlas

A new publication that informs readers with 50 engrossing historical synopses including stunning images of Lough Neagh has been launched. Lough Neagh: An Atlas of the Natural, Built and Cultural Heritage, a production from Lough Neagh Partnership and with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Ulster Historical Foundation, is a celebration of the Lough, its enigmatic beauty and the communities surrounding it, as well as the area’s natural, cultural and built environment of today and yesterday.

Lough Neagh Atlas Launch 1

The genesis for this publication came about in response to the delivery of a suite of built, cultural and natural heritage projects developed and delivered by the Lough Neagh Partnership as part of their National Lottery Heritage Fund Landscape Partnership Scheme.

It brings together artists, historians, and experts in many fields to give the reader a comprehensive but compelling breakdown of the Lough and its history. 

Discussing the interactions between the people of the Lough, the Atlas delves into the archives to unearth historical connections as well as laying bare Lough Neagh’s evolution to become one of Ireland’s most important natural resources.

The Atlas was launched at Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy, in a nod to how the area has shaped the artistic works of many notable figures here. Now on general sale, The Lough Neagh Atlas hopes to inspire its readers and inform many more people about the rich history of the Lough and how it has shaped the political and economic history of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Lough Neagh Atlas Launch 2

Speaking about the launch of The Lough Neagh Atlas, Gerry Darby, Strategic Manager of Lough Neagh Partnership, said: “Lough Neagh has had a rich and deep impact from feeding the first Mesolithic inhabitants of Ireland who came up the River Bann, to supplying 40% of Northern Ireland with drinking water.

“This area is home to a rich and unique history with stunning scenery that has been the inspiration behind many artistic creations, as well as being a geological and environmental treasure. Meanwhile, the communities and businesses that surround the Lough have been promoting its treasures. We are proud to be able to document the here, now and yesteryear of Lough Neagh through this new book and through the eyes of the many celebrated artists and experts who grew up in the area and who took inspiration from it.”

Joint editor of The Lough Neagh Atlas, Dr William Burke, said: “The broad scope of projects being delivered under the Partnership Scheme were, in combination, producing a lot of data and new information on the Lough’s heritage assets, so rather than have this sitting on some dusty shelf, we thought it should be shared with the people, communities and stakeholders that value the Lough. The book aims to provide a new easily accessible platform for the public to explore the rich heritage that is found around Lough Neagh as shaped by the people living there, the habitats surrounding it and how it is imagined in literature and mythology. Organised according to natural, built and cultural heritage thematic areas, I would invite readers to explore the heritage of the region from its geological past through to the modern day while considering the future of this unique area. The book also features the voices and views of people who live and work on the Lough, as we consider the ways in which a deeper sense of the cultural identity of the system might affect our understanding of current and future environmental challenges. As joint editor I would like to publicly acknowledge the wonderful contributions made by all the chapter authors and would particularly like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund whose support for the wider Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership programme was fundamental in the development and delivery of this book.”

Joint editor of The Lough Neagh Atlas, Dr Liam Campbell said: “This Atlas will hopefully help put the wonderful place that is Lough Neagh on the radar of many people. While parts of the Lough have had considerable attention over the years, there has been no single work dealing with the rich natural, built and cultural heritage of the area. Often subject to neglect and misrepresentation, this Atlas through its many diverse contributions seeks to literally put Lough Neagh on the map. This was a sheer delight to work on and a great example of partnerships and the amazing generosity of the contributors. It was an honour to share the thoughts, insights and love of a place with so many and I hope that this will inspire us all in the importance of our valuable heritage all around us.”

Speaking about The Ulster Historical Foundation’s role in publishing the book, Dr William Roulston, Research Director and co-editor, said: “The Ulster Historical Foundation was delighted to be invited by Lough Neagh Partnership fulfil the role of publisher. This is a hugely important book and those who initiated the project are to be warmly commended. Working alongside Dr Willie Burke and Dr Liam Campbell and the Lough Neagh Partnership was a pleasure, as they brought their enthusiasm, dedication and knowledge to the task. The many different essays cover a multitude of subjects and we believe that there is something for everyone in this volume. A special word of thanks is due to the designer, Wendy Dunbar, for producing a visually stunning publication. Our hope is that this book will inspire people to find out more about Lough Neagh and its people.”

Dr Jim McGreevy, Northern Ireland Committee Member at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are thrilled to support the Lough Neagh Partnership in celebrating the depth and diversity of people’s connections to Lough Neagh. Thanks to National Lottery players, the publication of The Lough Neagh Atlas brings together people’s personal responses and connections to the natural, cultural and built heritage of the Lough and its surrounding communities. Home to fascinating heritage, we know that sharing stories is a great way of bringing people together and creating a sense of pride of place, that in turn can deliver wider economic benefits.”

Lough Neagh Partnership is a non-profit charity made up of representative bodies and stakeholders responsible for the integrated management and protection of the Lough. It oversees six programmes in total, including a £3.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Scheme which aims to protect the built, cultural and natural heritage of the Lough.

Lough Neagh Atlas Launch 3

To find out more about the work of Lough Neagh Partnership and to purchase a copy of Lough Neagh: An Atlas of the Natural, Built and Cultural Heritage, please visit: www.loughneaghpartnership.org and follow Lough Neagh Partnership on facebook at: www.facebook.com/loughneaghpartnership. To view the Atlas online, please visit: https://loughneaghpartnership.org/publications/

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