Hunting, healing and heating on the lough

Dr Cormac McSparron gives Joe Mahon a few tips on the use of a trowel at the Ardboe archaeological dig
Dr Cormac McSparron gives Joe Mahon a few tips on the use of a trowel at the Ardboe archaeological dig

Joe Mahon’s Lough Neagh series continues with episode five on UTV on Monday, October 15th where Joe continues his travels highlighting the diverse features of the lough.

In this the fifth episode, Joe Mahon tries to stick to dry land around the shores of Lough Neagh but he discovers that, just because he’s not on a boat, there’s no guarantee he won’t get his feet wet.

On certain parts of the shoreline a high water table is a very desirable aspect of the landscape.

Thus when he visits Brackagh Bog near Portadown he learns how volunteers are labouring to preserve the unique fenland habitat, created when Victorian “peat-puddlers” left behind a network of ponds and ramparts which nature quickly colonised.

That fen is now home to many endangered species of dragonflies and damselflies but the fen itself is now threatened by the vigorous growth of trees and scrub and Marcus Malley, biodiversity officer for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, is leading a campaign to cut back the woodland in order to preserve the watery character of the bogland.

Up on the western shore at Ardboe, however, a high water table can be a nuisance for grave-diggers and archaeologists whose trenches have to be baled out on a regular basis.

Joe joins the team from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork from Queen’s University Belfast, who are exploring what lies beneath the fields surrounding the ancient monastic site, hoping to find evidence of continuous human habitation stretching back thousands of years.

Lough Neagh is produced by Westway Film Productions for UTV and is sponsored by Connolly’s of Moy. You can see the next episode on Monday October 15th at 8pm on UTV. Catch up on www.itv.com/utvprogrammes.