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  • Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Wartime vessel to be returned to Lough Neagh

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £9,000 to secure a wartime vessel at Lough Neagh.

The council is preparing for the arrival of wartime topedo vessel ‘The Joyce’ which will be moored alongside the beach jetty at The Gateway Visitor Centre at Lough Shore in Antrim.

‘The Joyce’ operated on Lough Neagh from 1943 as a torpedo retrieval boat. It was designed and built by the Admirality for use as a recovery boat during test firing of torpedoes.

The 78-year-old 40 ft vessel was decommissioned by the Royal Navy in 1960 and has since been used as a working boat in Weymouth.

It was made available to the council through Silvery Light Sailing, a Northern Ireland-based charity, which promotes maritime heritage in association with the Lough Neagh Partnership after the owners wished to “gift the vessel to a good home” where it will continue to be preserved.

Currently, ‘The Joyce’ is moored in Carlingford Marina in the care of Silvery Light sailing, at a cost of £300 per month.

Initially, councillors were told that the estimated cost of having ‘The Joyce’ returned to Lough Neagh as an external exhibit but “integral part of the Lough Neagh story and exhibition” would be £20,000.

Structural repairs have already been carried out by Silvery Light Sailing ahead of transport and display at The Gateway. Work to secure the vessel is expected to take six weeks to complete.

Meanwhile, an application has been submitted to Tourism Northern Ireland to a Covid recovery programme for £75,000 toward development of a virtual reality visitor experience at the Gateway, which will if successful include The Joyce.

Commenting on the submission of an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund at a meeting of the borough council’s Community Planning Committee on Monday evening, Antrim DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop said:

“I am happy to move the recommendation. I look forward to seeing The Joyce in its rightful home at the Gateway.”

Ballyclare Independent Councillor Michael Stewart added:

“I am happy to support the application and proposal.”