LOUGHAREEMA

The Vanishing Lake Both sides of Loughareema A local inhabitant

I found out that a story once told to me about a ghostly horse and carriage that frequent Loughareema derive from a true tragedy that happened there on September 30th,1898 - the roadway through Loughareema was lower than the present road and also without walls and therefore much more dangerous when the Lough filled. It had been raining heavily for a couple of days prior to the accident and the Lough was well flooded over the road - in fact several residents of Ballycastle who had been over to the Fair in Cushendall postponed there travel back due to the knowledge that the Lough was in flood and  dangerous to pass.    Colonel John Magee McNeille had been staying with his cousin Captain Daniel McNeill at Cushendun House for a few days prior to this, he left there at 1pm with the intention of catching the 3pm train from Ballycastle. Captain McNeill's coachman, David McNeill, who had collected him from Ballycastle a few days early now drove him back in a two horse covered wagonette. As they approached Loughareema they saw the state of flooding  - they hesitated to go on but at the last moment decided to cross the road, the horses went quietly until they came to a slight incline which increased the depth of water, they then became frightened and stopped. A road worker nearby who witnessed the event, told of the water being up to the horses bellies - as they approached the central part the horse took fright and stopped moving, the coachman tried coaxing them on but to no avail and there was no way they could turn or go back. At last to try and move the horses the coachman hit the left hand horse with his whip, this frightened the horse more and it reared up and turned half round, followed by the second horse - their forelegs slipped off the edge of the road and brought the whole carriage into the Lough. Colonel McNeille managed to get out of the carriage but was weighted with a heavy coat, he tried to swim but the horses were struggling in the water between him and the shore, so he tried to make a detour around them. The road worker, whose name was McHenry could not swim but said he had waded out on the flooded road to waist depth and tried to encourage the Colonel ashore but he sank several yards away from him and never surfaced. McHenry recalled that after a few minutes all that could be seen was a hat and coat floating on the surface and a horses leg protruding from the water - the Colonel, Coachman and the two horses all drowned. It was relayed at the inquest that the County Surveyor should be instructed at once about the dangerous and unprotected state of fencing at the Lough and he should also look into proper drainage of the Lough to prevent flooding and further tragedies. The Colonel's son had cycled the same route only an hour or so before his father, he had intended to wait for him at Ballycastle. On reaching the Lough and seeing it in flood, he carried his bicycle up over the high ground and avoided the crossing.  Colonel McNeille was sixty years old had retired from the Royal Engineers, he resided in Ealing, London - his father was the Rev, Hugh McNeille, Dean of Ripon and native of Ballycastle. Colonel McNeille was buried in Ramoan churchyard.

Ref: Coleraine Chronicle, October 8th, 1898

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