The Rams Island Heritage Project is An Undertaking of the Charity NIC102397 The River Bann & Lough Neagh Assoc. Co. NI 053517

Boat Trips Camping

Rams Island Interpretive Centre 

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Interpretive Facilities   
Rams Island and the Lough Neagh wetlands have a lot to offer the visitor in terms of natural and built history. It was originally thought to build an interpretive centre on the Island to educate visitors but following discussions with E.H.S.(now N.I.E.A.), our own research and because of possible environmental impacts and prohibitive costs it was decided to use a floating facility aboard a barge moored at the Island. 
The barge is used as a Gateway for visitors to the Island not only in the symbolic sense but groups of visitors are usually treated to hot drinks aboard the barge as they learn about the environment of Rams Island. The barge is the recommended first port of call for visitors to learn about the various interests the Island has to offer the visitor and also to advise visitors about any negative impacts they could inadvertently cause to the Island whilst visiting. The barge also has a disabled access toilet. The barge serves as a wet weather shelter for visitors waiting to board the ferry. It is also used as a workshop for special interest groups (Fungus/Bat/Birding groups etc). Volunteers The barge is now the cornerstone for volunteers who come to Island to work at the various environmental restoration projects that are planned/in progress (native tree planting, path restoration, habitat creation, invasive species management etc.) 
Up to thirty volunteers have dined aboard the barge thanks to the volunteers who staff the galley.‚Äč 

The Barge JK16 Sandmartin History 
Built in Belfast by Harland & Wolff in 1955 for John Kelly (Coal)

The barge (JK16) an ex John Kelly coal barge was originally used to transport imported coal along the Lagan from the Belfast Coal Quays to  the  Power Stations and to the Gas Works in Belfast. The coal all imported by John Kellys fleet of coal boats was transhipped directly into the fleet of dumb barges waiting at the Coal Quays.  They then were towed 6 at a time up the Lagan to the Blackstaff River which had been canalised to Cromac Quay for discharge into the Belfast Gasworks.

John Kelly Tug and Barges from Rams Island on Vimeo. 

John Kelly Tug and Barges from Rams Island on Vimeo.
Clips taken circa1960 from around Albert Bridge
Many thanks to Joe Graham for the above video clip and W.A. McCutcheon for the pictures below.  Note the Circus is in Ormeau Park across the Lagan

J.K. 16 dumb barge
O.N. 185561. 53 grt/nrt. 65.2 x 14.6 x 6.2 feet.
1955: Built by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast, for John Kelly Ltd, Belfast. 
1955: 1st registered at Belfast. 
1968: Sold to J. N. Emerson & Sons, Ardmore, Lurgan. 
1992: Still on British register. 
JK16 was subsequently sold to the sand trade on Lough Neagh and was last used by Readymix at Toome Bay. Replaced by larger barges JK 16 was donated to the Rams Island Heritage Project by Readymix in 2004.