The text reads:
The Southern Wetlands of Lough Neagh
The South Lough Neagh Wetlands offer a distinctive lowland glacial landscape set
against the backdrop of Lough Neagh, (Eachu's Loch) - Western Europe's largest
shallow lake. The regions mix of rampart roads and settlements, navigable rivers,
flood plains, canals and loughs, bog, fen, carr, wet meadow, ancient hedgerows,
history, and culture combine with Lough Neagh's reputation as a wild fowl,
fishing and boating resource to create a wetland of world importance.
As a hinterland to Ireland's 'Inland Sea' the southern wetlands are a
fascinating example of man's interaction with this lowland flood plain
environment. From early Neolithic times the potential offered by its two
arterial navigable rivers and the central geographic position of the great lough
have attracted man to the wetlands.
The region has witnessed the arrival of the Celts and a flourishing early Celtic
Christian culture. Later developments brought the growth of the great Gaelic
dynasty of the O'Neills who capitalised on the communication as well as the
defensive opportunities offered by the regions natural environment.
The waterway network also brought Viking incursions into the heart of Ulster
allowing the establishment of trading bases and minor settlements up to their
eventual defeat in a series of great naval battles led by the O'Neills on the
The Normans established northerly bases in the region which eventually
experienced a major influx of people and subsequent settlements during the 'plantation
of Ulster'. Later developments during the Industrial Revolution sought to
harness the natural communication of interconnecting canal systems.
The present South Lough Neagh Wetlands region represents the remnants of what
was until the turn of the 20th century the 'largest expanse of fenland in the islands
of britain and ireland'.
The region is a living historical portrayal of man's struggle with life on
the flood plain, his use of waterway navigation and his interaction with this
expansive natural wetland resource. At the turn of the millennium Europe has
lost most of its great wetlands. The importance of the South Lough Neagh Region
is now fully appreciated to be a valuable 'world resource' as outlined by its
internationally recognised RAMSAR designation.