A brand new series about Strangford Lough – its people and habitat, is coming to UTV. Called ‘Keepers of the Lough’, the six-part series will take the viewer on a beautiful journey of discovery about this enchanting part of the Northern Irish countryside.
Renowned internationally for its sheer beauty with its marine and nature reserves, it’s also a working Lough and its shores are surrounded by people who not only look after and keep it, but also depend on it for a living.
Narrated by Patrick Kielty, the series will reveal what’s life is like in and around the Lough. Along the way, we’ll meet great characters, encounter the highs and lows of not only having to depend on the Northern Ireland weather, but also on the actions of others to survive, and indeed thrive, in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
In the first episode we meet Hugh Thurgate, Lead Ranger on Strangford Lough, who talks about the work of the National Trust as he helps to move cattle for a tenant with the Trust’s barge. It’s not all plain sailing though with wayward cattle in the wrong place on one of the islands!
John Scott from Killyleagh has been working at Ringhaddy Boatyard since the early 1970s when he helped his father as a teenager. He’s an expert in the yard, painstakingly maneuvering a yacht for launch, with inches to spare, waiting for the tide to take her out. We also find out why his wife worries that everyone will think he’s a head case!
Cadogan Enright from Downpatrick and members of his canoe club, are carrying out a week long butterfly survey on all the islands on the Lough. Spending just 15 minutes on each island, and covering over 120km2, they count the species, and in doing so contribute to the UK wide Big Butterfly Count.
And at Exploris Aquarium, we meet Cloddagh McVeigh, a local girl from Kircubbin who started there while on work experience at school. She has been working with rescue seals for two years, and we see her give one abandoned seal a thorough health check, with lots of cuddles of course.
We also meet boat builder Dan Dorman, on his tall ship at Whiterock. He grew up on Strangford, and he shares his renovation dreams, planning to sell his house to finish the work so he and his family can live on it. And there is stunning footage of Dan at sunrise moving his tall ship onto a mooring around the other side of Sketrick Island.
Wilmer McFerran from Killyleagh is ‘a genius’, according to John Scott. Wilmer tinkers at boats and diggers in his old shed, and can turn his hand to fixing anything. We find out at the end of the programme if he has success with an old rope making machine.
Further in the series, viewers will get to see the work at Castle Espie and at the RNLI station at Portaferry, as well as meet more local people who use the lough for work and play.
UTV’s Programmes Editor Tony Curry said: “Strangford is an area of outstanding natural beauty and that, coupled with the great characters the viewers will meet and get to know across the six episodes, add up to a truly special series that the viewers will love.”
Bob O’Brien from Independent production company Green Inc. has produced, shot and directed the series for UTV. Green Inc, owner Stephen Stewart said: “We are delighted to bring the beauty of Strangford into homes in Northern Ireland. This is a real passion project for us, as both my family and Bob’s family are connected to people who live and work there. It is an amazing place and whether they are scientists, conservationists, farmers or boatman, everyone loves it and they all make up a very special community interlocked and dependent on one another, living where the sea and land merge.”
n ‘Keepers of the Lough’ is produced by County Down-based Green Inc, and is sponsored by ‘House Proud Furniture’. You can watch the first episode on Thursday, October 28 at 7.30pm on UTV and on catch up on www.itv.com/utvprogrammes