White Island Holiday

Lough Gowna is situated in North Longford or South Cavan. It’s a very large lake of 6 miles
long and about 3 miles wide, at its widest point. Lough Gowna is a very busy lake as people
come from all over the world to fish for pike, trout, perch, bream, hybrids and roach. Lough
Gowna is a maze of lakes, Church Lake, Cloone Lake, Arnaghan Lake, Dernaferst, Dring,
Rhododendron Shore, Swan Lake, The Derries and River Erne.
My name is Kevin Bannon and I live in Lough Gowna Village. I am basing my story on one
that was told to me by Grainne Smith. Grainne grew up in Lough Gowna in the eighties and
her story is based on her life growing up beside her grandad’s and grannies farm in Corfree.
Their names were John and Margaret McGahern. The farm included an Island called White
Island. There are 20 acres of land on this Island and the cattle were moved onto the Island
in April every year until September when the weather started to get cooler. It was a big job
to move the cattle over and this was done on a Saturday when there were more people
around to help out.
They walked the cattle from Corfree down to Enaghan which was about 5km. Grainne and
her brother got the job of running ahead of all the cattle to close neighbours gates in case
the cattle got into their gardens. When they reached Joey Reilly’s farm the hard work only
started. Grainne’s uncle Sean would go out on a boat to a tiny Island called Bukies Island, he
would tie a rope onto a tree on this Island and row over to White Island and tie the rope to
another tree there, this would stop the cattle swimming off down the lake. He would come
back to the shore at Enaghan to help move the cattle across. The largest bullock would have
had a harness put on him in the yard back in Corfree and he would be the first to be pushed
out into the water. This bullock would swim across to the first Island. Once he was on Bukie
Island the rest of the cattle would start following until they all got over. The deepest water
was between Buckie Island and White Island. The Largest bullock was again pushed out into
the water and they would all swim on to the White Island. However it didn’t always go
right, as cattle would run amuck at different stages. When the job was finished Grainne’s
grandad always took them for ice-cream, this was always the highlight of the day.
Grainne loved visiting the Island with her mammy, daddy, her grandad and granny or her
uncle Sean during the summer months. She said it was a beautiful place with wild flowers,
animals and birds. Grainne’s uncle Sean owns the Island now, but he does not use it for
cattle anymore. He has planted it with hundreds of trees, but he still stops off on the Island
when he is out fishing.
I really enjoyed interviewing Grainne and hearing her story, so much that I asked my
mammy if we could go and see where they used to take the cattle. My mammy brought
myself and my brother for a cycle, we went down Corfree and down into Eanaghan. I could
imagine the cattle running down the small country lanes with grass growing up the middle
and trying to get into people’s gardens. We cycled right down to Joey Reilly’s farm and
looked out across the lake to White Island. I would like to get a boat and go over and see
where the cattle spent their summer holidays.
This is the view of This is the view from near Joey Reilly’s farm.
White Island from Corfree.
These are pictures taken on White Island in the 80’s