Kernan Lough Search Battery, Gilford, Co. Down

Kernan Lough is a popular fishing spot near Gilford in Co. Down but in the early 1940s, it was home to a Searchlight Battery Unit of the Ulster Home Guard.

Kernan Lough

Kernan Road


Co. Down

BT63 6BX

United Kingdom

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.

Buildings at Kernan Lough

A series of small ruined red-brick buildings stand overlooking Kernan Lough, near Gilford in Co. Down. A few men from the local Home Guard manned this position. Photo taken on 10th September 2016.

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.

Kernan Lough Battery

Stopping at the junction of Kernan Road and Lough Road on the way to the popular fishing spot of Kernan Lough, you can see a cluster of brick buildings that were once part of a searchlight battery. Photo taken on 10th September 2016.

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.

Gateway to Kernan Lough site

A rusted gate may be the original entryway into the former searchlight battery site overlooking Kernan Lough in Co. Down. Nowadays it keeps cattle or sheep in the surrounding fields. Photo taken on 10th September 2016.

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.

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