Light Lunch Provided by River Bann and Lough Neagh Association
Contact email email@example.com or telephone 07715368050
Children accompanied by an adult welcome.
Helping the Environment
Supported by Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council
Photos from previous events
Its pretty pink flowers are an attractive sight on the Lough’s
edge, but Himalayan Balsam is a menace that needs to be stopped
in its tracks. On Rams Island particularly at the northern end
it has eradicated many of the native species that had
established themselves around the small pond and beyond.
Himalayan Balsam is an annual and grows fresh each year from
last years seeds germinating in March/April grows up to 2.5
metres high flowering in July and producing over 1000 seeds in
Sept /October from each plant. The seeds can be waterborne and
have spread all around the Lough.
A bit like a Busy Lizzie on steroids, this native of the
Nepalese mountains escaped from the sedate environment of the
garden flowerbed. It may be a wonder of nature, but it is a real
threat to the wildlife on Lough Neagh.
Once seed-pods have formed, any disturbance will cause them to
burst open, hurling seeds with incredible force that can only be
compared to projectile vomiting. If you are unfortunate enough
to brush against one at eye-level, it could actually damage your
The seeds are spat out by a coiled spring mechanism within the
seed-pod, which can be seen dangling from the pod afterwards.
Himalayan Balsam has crowded out native plants such as mint (mentha
aquatica) and even young willows, which are important food
sources for insects (which are themselves a vital part of the
Lough’s food-chain). Our local insects seem to find this brash
intruder repulsive, and steer clear of it. Any absence of
insects means that the whole ecology of the Lough has been
One (perhaps the only) piece of good news about the Himalayan
balsam is that it is incredibly easy to pull up.
Until the Balsam has been eradicated from Rams Island and
hopefully Lough Neagh the chances of seeing rare plants such as
Irish Lady's-Tresses Orchid (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) are slim
The Northern Ireland Environment Service have stated in their
Natural Heritage Strategic Plan .
“The native flora and fauna of Ireland has developed in
post-glacial times and, as an island situated on the edge of the
European continent, the natural range of species is limited.
This flora and fauna has been supplemented by many introduced
species. Protecting our natural species, and their genetic
make-up, from the impacts of invasive species or through
contamination of unique gene pools is an important biodiversity
Our plans for Himalayan Balsam will mean complete eradication
from the Island and replanting with native species to recover
the habitat lost to this species in the last few years. This
will not be any easy task as the timing of removal of the plants
is crucial as the factors involved are not to disturb any
nesting birds but not to leave it too late until seed pods
mature as the pods will explode as the plants are being removed
and scatter new seed to germinate the following year. Another
problem is that the seed can survive for several years. We
expect it to take between three and five years to get the Balsam
under any sort of Control.
The Rams Island Heritage Project
is now being supported by Live Here Love Here.
This time we are hoping as well as on the Island to get some of the
one of the sources, at the banks of the Glenavy River.
A family day out on Lough Neagh with light refreshments provided by
Helping the Environment
Supported by Antrim Borough Council
The future of humanity
depends on wetlands
They purify and
replenish our water, and
provide the fish and
rice that feed billions.
Wetlands act as a
natural sponge against
flooding and drought,
and protect our
coastlines. They burst
with biodiversity, and
are a vital means of
benefits are not widely
Often viewed as
wasteland, 64% of our
disappeared since 1900.
Help us turn the tide
on the loss and
degradation of our
wetlands. Join us for
World Wetlands Day 2015
– and beyond!
The River Bann & Lough
Neagh Association Co has produced a guide for the two major Islands
of Lough Neagh, Coney Island and Rams Island.
48 pages of information about the flora and fauna, history and a
small hint of scandal.
Ram's Island is located
approximately one mile offshore from Lennymore Bay and Sandy Bay on the
Eastern Shore of Lough Neagh. Rams is the largest island on Lough Neagh.
Lough Neagh was designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest
(ASSI), a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site in 1992, 1996 and
1976 respectively. It has been suggested that Rams was formed as a
Glacial Esker. It is nearly one mile long by a quarter of a mile wide at
the widest southern end. Notable features of the Island are a round
tower (a scheduled ancient monument 58:16, the remains of a Celtic
Monastic Settlement about a thousand years old) and the ruins of the
O’Neill’s’ nineteenth century summer house. The Island was last
permanently inhabited in the 1920s by the Cardwell family who were
caretakers for the O’Neill’s. The remains of Cardwell’s harbour, left
dry by the lowering of Lough Neagh, can be seen near the ruins of
Cardwell’s little house. The Island has quite a number of mature
deciduous trees including Oak, Ash, Alder, Willow, Birch, Beech,
Sycamore, Lime, Horse Chestnut, and unusually Walnut. There are Yew,
Snowdrops, Bluebells, Primrose, Lords and Ladies (Jack in the Pulpit),
Wild Mint, Wild Garlic, Lesser Celandine, Ferns and a carpet of
Daffodils, depending on the season. Fungi such as Scarlet Elf’s Cap and
Jelly Ear can also be found. There are also various Mosses and Lichens.
Although overgrown, there are remains of a carriageway along the
elevated central spine of the island. There are overgrown paths along
the entire length of the Island. Its remote, wilderness and ‘lost in
time’ qualities make Ram’s a pleasant and attractive place to visit.