On Sunday the sixth of August a bride and groom fulfilled their dreams by getting married on Lough Neagh. An armada of boats carried Victoria Savage, Robert McCormac and their guests one mile across Sandy Bay for the wedding ceremony on Rams Island. The ceremony was held in the shade of the round tower, the remains of an ancient Celtic Monastic Settlement around a thousand years old, near the ruins of Lord O’Neill’s’ nineteenth century summer house.
The Island was last permanently inhabited in the early part of the last century by Robert and Jane Cardwell who were caretakers for Lord O’Neill and known as the King and Queen of Rams Island. Both Robert and Jane died on the Island after some 50 years living there, Robert in his late 90s and Jane was 102. Hopefully the King and Queen of Rams were smiling down on the young couple making their marriage vows on their Island.
Victoria and Robert were following in the footsteps of another pair of young lovers immortalised by the Clancy Brothers in the song Ballinderry. The song tells the tale of two young lovers who would visit “bonny” Rams Island and sit beneath the trees.
The wedding was the realisation of a dream that began during a visit to the Island by the couple shortly after they became engaged. Victoria, who has been visiting Rams since her childhood, remarked light-heartedly that Rams would be a lovely location for a wedding. After that it snowballed into reality. You would have to visit Rams to understand why the couple chose it for their wedding ceremony. It has an atmosphere all of its own and has an exquisite natural and historical setting.
Watched by both families, guests and visiting boaters the bridal procession arrived up the central avenue to the tower to the strains of “She Moves Through The Fair” played on the harp by Ciara McCormac. The marriage ceremony was performed on the Island by the groom’s brother Douglas, a Seventh Day Adventist Pastor. After the wedding and a reception at the nearby Ballymac hotel the newlyweds headed to Westport for their honeymoon.
Whether there were any weddings on Rams Island in the past is uncertain, there could well have been as there was a church on the Island but the church now long gone had been unused for centuries. What is certain there have not been any weddings on the Island in living memory.