New cross border life on Lough Foyle

There was a great wee programme on Radio 4’s Open Country today about the revival of life at the head of Lough Foyle. East Ulster folk may not know it, being generally more parochial than us northwesterners, but a transformation has been wrought by the opening of the car ferry service half dozen years ago between Magilligan point and Greencastle. Along with the ferry has come the revival of the three hundred tradition of Foyle punts, the development of mussel farming, a fair tourist trade and the considerable local and cross border impact of the shortcut to what is still a pretty depressed part of Donegal. For me taking the ferry was quite a culture shock. In the old days, if you were driving from the direction of Calvinist Coleraine to Catholic Greencastle and north Inishowen, you had to go 30 miles through the decompression chamber of Derry and up a further 20 to Greencastle. The mile wide channel is international waters ( yes Gregory), still bordered on the Co Derry side by the Army firing range and the old Magilligan internment camp still a prison today. But I’ll suppress those memories of the Saturday before Bloody Sunday. New links, new life instead.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London