Off the Beaten Track – Cranfield Point

Lough Neagh sits as Ireland’s eye, clearly visible from space at the top right of our island. It is a vast place, largely undiscovered but by those who make a living on it and on its shores. There are many historic places to be discovered around its 90 mile (130km) shoreline, with one such being the wonderful Cranfield Point. Off the Beaten Track – Cranfield Point, visits once such historic place in our occasional series on unique Irish journeys.

St Olcan chose this site for his monastic settlement well. Sitting on a height just metres from the Lough Neagh shoreline, the old ruin has long fallen into disrepair and is maintained by the NI Department for Communities as an historic monument.  It is testament to the quality of our 13th century stonemasons that the walls of the old church remain standing after more than 700 years. Lough Neagh can be a wild place, with sea conditions often taking sailors by surprise despite it being totally landlocked.

You might come along this tranquil place by accident, the rather dilapidated tourist sign at Toome being your first cue to its existence. If however, you find an hour to spend on your journey between Belfast and Derry, it might form an interesting detour. The old church is surrounded by a well maintained cemetery, with many headstones long ago obscured by wind and rain – although it remains a place of repose today.

A short walk away is the famous ‘Holy Well’, with old rags and relics hanging from the branches of an overhanging tree. It is said to be a place for curing illness and disease, where you touch the affected area or person with a piece of rag, then hang it off the tree to pass the illness onto the spirit world. Does it work? Well, personally I haven’t tried it, but many who have swear by it!

What can bring you up short in this area are the remnants of the once great Belfast and Ballymena Railway which ran from Cookstown Junction to Cookstown. Closing to rail passengers in 1950 and totally in 1959, the railway served the region for over 100 years. The craftsmanship of the railway’s builders is astonishing, as their structures remain dotted along the length of the line that ran through Staffordstown between Randalstown and Toome.

off the beaten track - cranfield point

InSite Tours Ireland offer guided tours of Lough Neagh and its surrounding countryside. If you would like a guided tour of Cranfield point, call Fergal on 02879 386638 now, or use the form below:-

About InSite Tours Admin

InSite Tours Ireland is owned and managed by Fergal Kearney and offers specialist guided tours focusing on the distinctive characteristics of his native Northern Ireland. With over 20 years experience in tourism on the island of Ireland, with 15 of those spent at Tourism NI, Fergal has an unsurpassed knowledge of the destination and its unique culture and environment.

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