A quiet townland today – Castlebeg. Castlebeg lies between Dundonald and Comber. There is no road through the townland, just eight fields of farmland, so I’ve been looking at Castlebeg from a distance.
The closest I can get to Castlebeg is the Comber Greenway, where I have been taking my lockdown exercise. I stopped my bicycle and photographed the fields of Castlebeg in June 2020….
…and in January 2021, when one flooded field was home to Whooper Swans. According to Birdwatch Ireland, these swans migrate from Iceland, and will return there in spring to nest. About a dozen swans were still in the same field this morning, even though most of the water has drained away. This fits with a recent census carried out by Birdwatch Ireland, which found that 74% of the Whooper Swans on the island of Ireland were feeding on agricultural land, and that “pasture fields in close proximity to lakes and flooded rivers provide crucial feeding habitat for Whooper Swans”.
I’ve never seen a castle in Castlebeg, just a distant view of some farm sheds. But according to the website of the Northern Ireland Place-Name Project the townland name does come from the Irish An Caisleán Beag, meaning ‘the little stone ring-fort’. So somewhere in those fields there was once a fortified site.
Which civil parish is Castlebeg in? Dundonald
Which county is Castlebeg in? County Down