Kernan Lough lies in the rolling County Down hills between Gilford and Banbridge. It is a popular fishing spot and each year, Gilford Angling Club stock the waters with fish. During World War Two, it was the setting for a remote Searchlight Battery.
The searchlights of Kernan Lough
In 1940, the home front expected a Nazi air attack on Northern Ireland would approach from the south. Planes would sweep in over Newcastle in Co. Down and follow the Dublin railway lines to Belfast.
On high ground over Kernan Lough, a cluster of four red brick buildings became a searchlight battery. From here, high-powered beams scanned the night skies, watching for enemy bombers and fighters.
These buildings only housed a few men at a time. As well as manning the searchlights, they also had the task of guarding the lough. Advances in technology meant Germans could now land seaplanes in Northern Irish waters.
The battery today
Seventy-five years later, these buildings still stand. Once home to a Home Guard Searchlight Battery Unit, they are still whitewashed as they were in the 1940s. In some rooms, the unit has left their mark for future generations to observe. While they may be in ruins and shelter livestock, they are a rare example of remaining World War Two era structures. Looking at the buildings, there are thick protective blast walls covering the doors. A nearby building in an adjacent field which housed the lights has since been demolished.