Lough Key Islands

Two of the best islands to visit while stand up paddle boarding are;


-         Trinity Island - home to the ruins of Holy Trinity Abbey

-         Castle island - home to the ruins of the famous McDermott castle.


Both islands have unmissable scenic views as well as the historic ruins, and they are connected to each other by the famous love story of Úna Bhán and Tomás Láidir.


Legend has it that Úna Bhán, the daughter of a McDermott Chieftain, fell in love with a neighbour, the honourable and decent Tomás Láidir. He was a good man but one who did not have the wealth of the McDermott’s. The pairing was doomed from the start as McDermott believed Tomás Láidir was below his daughter’s station and refused to consent to a marriage between the two. In an effort to separate them, McDermott exiled Tomás Láidir and had Úna confined to castle island where she descended into a deep depression at the loss of her love.

Tomás Láidir on hearing this, rushed to the island to see Úna Bhán. When he left, he tried to force McDermott to allow the two to marry or lose his daughter to her grief, by vowing that if McDermott did not send for Tomás Láidir before he crossed the river, he would never return.

McDermott finally relented and sent a message for Tomás Láidir to return and be with Úna, but it was too late, he had already crossed the river and being a man of honour, he could not break the vow he had made before god.


Úna Bhán died of a broken heart and was buried on Trinity Island.


In his grief Tomás Láidir swam to the island every night to sit by her graveside until he became too unwell from pneumonia to continue his visits. Knowing he was dying, he asked McDermott to allow him to be buried beside Úna Bhán. McDermott consented and so at last the two lovers were reunited, for only in death they could be together.

It is said that two trees grew over the graves of the lovers, eventually entwining together to form a lover’s knot.


You can visit both islands on your SUP exploration and you can find out more about Úna Bhán by visiting the Úna Bhán tourist office in the grounds of King House in Boyle town or by checking out their website here.