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Strangford Lough.

From the Norse Strangfjord

Strangford Lough.
Named from the Norse Strangr-fjorðr meaning "strong fjord"
Strangford Lough situated on the eastern side of County Down is an area of outstanding natural beauty and great ecological interest. Its name comes from the Norse and means strong fjord, which is understandable when you consider the vast amount of water that funnels through the narrow gap with each tide. Originally it was called Lough Cuan or 'Lough of the Harbour'.

The Lough enters the Irish sea through the narrows between Killard point to the west and Ballyquintan point on the peninsular of Ards, the tidal stream in the narrows is the fastest in the British Isles and Ireland running at a rate of 7.8 Knots at spring tides, four hundred million tons of water rush through this narrow gap twice a day. Many shipwrecks have occurred within the Lough and particularly in the narrows where there are fifty nine recorded wrecks since 1715 when the Eagle's Wing was wrecked on the Angus Rock with a loss of seventy six lives.

Recently (April 2005). A drilling rig anchored in the narrows to drill test holes as the first step to installing a hydro electric power generator.

In late March 2008 the Rambis a gigantic floating crane arrived in Strangford Narrows carrying a hydro electric turbine unit which it will place on the bed of the lough, it is hoped the turbine will generate about 1.4 Mwatts of electricity.

Visit the website of Marine Current Turbines Ltd

Click the image on the left for larger view.

The Lough is 18 miles long from the narrows to the mud flats at Newtownards. The twisting shores of the Lough amount to about 150 miles it has about 120 islands. And with about 2000 species of marine animals which make it the richest place for marine life in Europe.

In September flocks of Canadian Brent Geese arrive to feast on the swards of Eel grass on the northern mud flats. Wigeon from from Iceland and the Soviet Union, Knots from Greenland join flocks of Turnstones, Lapwings and bartailed Godwits in the salt marches. Later in the year Shelducks and Wooper swans from Iceland are to be seen.

With little human disturbance and so many secluded islands with an abundant supply of food nearby, Strangford is host to about 40 species of nesting birds

One place which is a classic example of wildlife profiting from mans past industrial endeavour's is Castle Espie Wildfowl reserve, just North of the village of Whiterock on the Western shore. Here on the small lakes which formed when a brickwork's was abandoned, are to be seen a vast array of water fowl. The reserve is open to the public.
Contact details of Castle Espie.

Read about The Territory of the Ards, By James O'Laverty. published in 1878.


Guns Island.

About one mile south of the mouth of Strangford Lough stands Guns Island, the island is accessible by foot at low water springs. A little further to the south lies the wreck of the French ship Ametie, it was carrying a cargo of cannons and possibly small arms, for the United Irishmen when it went ashore on the rocky coast. Only one survivor made it ashore. He was taken care of and probably hidden from the authorities by the people of the now vanished village of Sheeplands.
(See also Killard Point Nature Reserve,)

One of the cannon can be seen at the harbour yard in Ardglass. The wreck site has now been listed.

The entrance to Strangford Lough has seen many shipwrecks, the earliest recorded and possibly the worst was when in October 1715 The Eagles Wing went ashore there with a loss of seventy six lives, it is not known if this wreck precipitated the writing of the tune The Eagle's Wing, or if the tune was in existence prior to the wreck.

Strangford was once an important centre for the production of kelp.

Read about srangford Lough in 1837 from Samuel Lewis Topographical Directory of Ireland.


Places to see around Strangford.
Killard Nature Reserve
Castle Ward
Castle Espie
Mount Stewart
Nendrum Monastic Site
Greyabbey Monastic Site
Other Heritage Sites