Lough Gill Boat Tours
Lough Gill (or Loch Gile in Irish) is a lake mainly situated in County Sligo, but partly in County Leitrim, in the Republic of Ireland. It is about 8 km (5 miles) long and 2 km (1 mile) wide and drains into the River Garavogue near Sligo Town. The picturesque lake is surrounded by wooded hills and is popular with birdwatchers. It is overlooked by the fortified manor house, Parke's Castle. The present castle was built in the 1600s by Captain Robert Parke on the site of the former stronghold of the O'Rourke (Uí Ruairc) clan. The Uí Ruairc's ruled the area from about the 7th century (they were descended from Sean Ferghal O Ruairc, King of Connacht around 952) up to the time of Oliver Cromwell. Near Lough Gill is Cairns Hill, a wooded hill rising to 390ft, so called because it is capped by two cairns.
According to legend, these cairns are burial places of two old Sligo Chieftains, Romra and Omra who ruled over the old city of Sligo, which legend would have us believe now lies under these waters. The chieftains legends tells that Romra had a beautiful daughter named Gile. One day Omra came and saw her charmed by her beauty and asked her to take a stroll with him. When Romra discovered the two lovers together, his anger and his fury was so great that he proceeded to do battle with Omra, killing him in the battle. But during the battle Romra himself was very badly wounded from which he later died from. Gile in her grief from her father's death and lover killed herself also.
It is said from the tears of Gile's nurse-maid Lough Gill was formed. As her name was Gile, we have the name Lough Gill. Gile means bright, so we have Lough Gill - truly The Bright Lake. The lake contains about 20 small islands, including the romantic Lake Isle of Innisfree made famous in a poem by W.B Yeats.
Cottage Island (Beezies Island) is one of the islands below Dooney Rock. Known locally as Beezie Island, so named after an old lady called Beezie who lived on the island. She was the last person to live on Lough Gill; she died in 1948, aged over 80. She was a great old lady. She used to take out her row-boat every Thursday and row down to Sligo to collect her old age pension and row back again. A great friend of the fisherman. This island was a regular port of call on Lough Gill when the lough was a very busy place for fishing. The fisherman would 'drop in' to Beezies for a cup of tea or a drop of anything else that was going. Sligonians recalled her being a unique lady. She would read anything she could lay her hands on. One gentleman who was regular visitor to this island when Beezie was alive told she would read anything "from Buffalo Bill to the Bible". The ruins of Beezies Cottage can still be seen on the island. The island at one time was a leper colony. The lepers were tended by the monks who were affiliated to the White Canons of Lough Key in Boyle. The ruins of their monastery can be seen on the far most tip of the island.