Lough Erne or Loch Erne [1] (pronounced / lɒx ɛərn /; lokh airn , from Irish:Loch Éirne ) is the name of two connected lakes in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is the second largest lake system in Northern Ireland and Ulster, and fourth largest in Ireland. The lakes widened sections of the River Erne, flowing north, and then curves west into the Atlantic. The smaller southern lake called Upper Lough (as it is further up the river) or South Lough. The larger northern lake called Lower Lough and Lough north. The town of Enniskillen is located on the short stretch of the river between the lakes. The lake has 154 islands along with many bays and coves. When windy, navigation on Lower Lough Erne, running for 26 miles almost to the Atlantic, can be something of a challenge with waves of dimensions of the open sea.Shallow Upper Lough Erne, spreading southeast of Enniskillen for about 12 miles, is a maze of islands. [2] The River Erne is 80ml (129 km) [3] long and drains an area of about 4350 km 2 . [4]

Name, mythology and folklore

Lough Erne (Loch Éirne) appear to be named after an ancient population called Érainn, or after a goddess from whom Érainn took its name. [5] Because the tribes are often named after a divine ancestor, TF O’Rahilly suggested that the Érainn took his name of a goddess named Érann and Loch Éirne probably means “lake (goddess) Érann”. [5] O’Rahilly and other researchers have connected the name to Eriu (contemporary Éire), the goddess after which Ireland is called. [5] He writes that the earlier forms of the goddess’s name was Everna / Iverna and Everiu / Iveriu and that both come from “the Indo-European root either , which means movement”. In his view Érann and Eriu would thus seem to mean “she who travel regularly,” declared that “the sun-goddess, the sun was the great celestial traveler”. [5] Alternatively John T. Koch suggest Eriu was a mother goddess whose name comes from an Indo-European root word that means “fat, rich, fertile”. [5]

In Irish mythology and folklore, there are three stories about the lake’s origin.They say that it is named after a mythical woman named Erne, Méabh queen’s lady-in-waiting påCruachan. Erne and her bridesmaids were frightened away from Cruachan when a fearsome giant emerged from the cave Oweynagat. They fled north and drowned in a river or lake, their bodies dissolving become Lough Erne. [6] Patricia Monaghan notes that “the drowning of a goddess in a river is common in Irish mythology and typically represents the dissolution of her divine power to the water, which then gives life to the earth “. [7] another story says that it was formed as a magical spring well spill, [8] similar story of Lough Neagh .The third says that during a battle between Érainn and the army of the high king Fíachu Labrainne, burst it from the ground and drowned Érainn. [8] in Cath Maige Tuired ( “battle of Moytura”), it is listed as one of the twelve main lakes in Ireland. [9]Historically, the lake is also called Loch Saimer ( Samhaoir ). Folklore says that Partholón killed his wife’s favorite dog Saimer-in a fit of jealousy, and the lake was named after it. [10]

Lough Erne is the establishment of a folk tale called “The Story of Conn-eda” or “golden apples Lough Erne,” as shown in the Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish peasantry (1888) .In the story, Conn-eda goes on a quest to acquire three golden apples, a black horse and a supernatural dog from a city in Lough Erne. The city is governed by a king of the Fir Bolg. [11]


Interestingly Fermanagh fled the potato blight disease during the great famine better than any other county, the county had so many islands. The potato blight had difficulty traveling over water, compared with the light transmission across the green hills and fields of most of Ireland. Those Erne islands produced surprising amounts of potatoes (the staple food of the island, from 1845 to 1849), while the mainland was largely starving in comparison. [ Citation needed ] The Annals of Ulster was written in the late 15th century on Belle Isle, an island in upper Lough Erne.

During World War II, RAF Castle Archdale was based on Lough Erne, is an important air base for the Battle of the Atlantic and the fight against the U boats. A secret agreement with the Irish Government is allowed to fly boats based there to fly directly to the Atlantic, avoiding the two-hour detour that would have been necessary for aircraft based in Northern Ireland.

In November 2012 it was announced that the Lough Erne Resort, a hotel on the south shore of Lower Lough would host the 39th G8 summit. [12]



The lakes contain many small islands and peninsulas, which is also called “islands” because of the very intricate shoreline and as many of them were the islands before the two major drainage systems in the 1880s and 1950s as the water level fell by about 1.5 meters. Islands

Islands in the lower lake include Boa Island, Cleenishmeen Island, Crevinishaughy Island, Cruninish Island, Devenish Island, Ely Island, Goat Island, Horse Island, Inish Doney, Inish Fovar, Inish Lougher, Inish Further, Inis Rath, Inishmacsaint, Inishmakill, Lustybeg Iceland, Lustymore Island and White Island.

Those in the upper lake include Bleanish Island, Dernish Island, Inishcorkish, Inishcrevan, Inishfendra, Inishleague, Inishlught, Inishturk, Killygowan Island, Naan Island and Trannish. Several of the islands are privately owned, and sometimes come out in the open market. In 2007 Inishturk on the market at a price of £ 695,000. [13] In 2012 Inisliroo went on the market at a price of £ 600,000. [14]

Sea islands is the most important Irish stronghold of scarce Garden Warbler.


Waterways Ireland, a cross-border organization, set up under the Belfast Agreement in 1999, is responsible for navigation on the Erne system, as well as the island of Ireland’s second fairways.

Rivers Agency, an executive agency within the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, remains the owner of the bed and foreshore and manages water levels within the ranges specified in the Erne Drainage and Development Act (1950). Drainage system was designed by Percy Shepherd. Water level control in connection with the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in Ireland under the terms of a contract in 1950 when the river Erne was used for hydroelectric power generation. The agreement requires that the levels are kept in Upper Lough between 150 ft and 154 ft (April to September) … / 155 feet (October to March), and Lower Lough between 147 ft and 152 ft. . [15] These levels relate to the Irish grid zero at Poolbeg lighthouse and are in imperial units feet.

Water levels in the Upper and Lower Lough Erne are managed by a control structures at Portora in Enniskillen and the hydroelectric power plant at Cliff between Belleek and Ballyshannon in Ireland. During the summer period the aim is to keep the water level in the steam down the side of Portora, at or above 150 ft. To avoid the need for gates closed requires use of the navigational lock. This is to prevent restrictions to boat traffic with the help of navigation facilities in the peak tourist season.

Quick draw down of water levels in the Upper Lough prevented by the limited capacity of the inter-Lough channel section. This means that the Rivers Agency must anticipate significant inflows by pulling down loughs to ensure storage flood there. In November 2009, the Erne system experienced a major flood. [16] Water levels were the highest recorded since the changes in the system in the 1950s.

The Erne rivers Rivers Trust is a trust NGOs are trying to help maintain clean water in Lough Erne catchment for all the flora and fauna.

Sports and Tourism

Lough Erne is a particularly scenic waterway, known for its beautiful environment. The area is popular for fishing and water sports, water skiing, boating and wakeboarding are among the most popular stretch of water at the side of Broadmeadow, Enniskillen has hosted stages of the World Waterski World Cup annually since 2005, and in 2007, a pro wakeboard competition ” Wakejam “hosted by Erne Wakeboard Club (EWC) after successful national wakeboard competitions during the previous years.Canoeing is also a popular recreational sport in the Erne.

Lough Erne Yacht Club is based in Gublusk Bay. The Lough Erne Regatta is Ireland’s oldest event for racing under sail, with a lineage beyond 1820. [17]The RNLI has an inner lifeboats and rescue watercraft based on Gublusk with an additional station on Carrybridge on the Upper Lake.

The Lough Erne Golf & Hotel Resort opened in October 2007 by Irish businessman Jim Treacy. It is located on a 600-acre peninsula between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne. On 12 May 2011 it was announced that the Castle Hume Leisure Limited – owner of the hotel – had gone into administration. And in May 2011, its future is uncertain [18]

The area also Lough Erne Challenge, a golf tournament.

Lough Erne Resort will also host the 2017 (golf) Irish Open golf tournament.[19] [20]


A channel, the Shannon-Erne waterway running between the top end of the River Shannon and River Erne, which boat movements from the Shannon Estuary in southwest Ireland, by West Midlands in the country, across the north and out to the Atlantic again (even if the last section of the Atlantic side of Belleek is not navigable).

The section of the Ulster Canal connects Lough Erne to Clones planned for navigation restored by Waterways Ireland.


  • Lower Lough Erne.
  • Upper Lough Erne.
  • Upper Lough Erne Panorama.
  • Lough Erne from the International Space Station (bottom right).

See also

  • List of Loughs in Ireland


  1. Jump up ^ See Google Books, for example, published online.
  2. Jump up ^ “Lough Erne”. Geographia – Original Official Site of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
  3. Jump up ^ Notes on watersheds Page 67
  4. Jump up ^ http://library.nics.gov.uk/pdf/dard/2011/EBNL.pdf
  5. ^ Jump up to: abcde Roulston, William J. Fermanagh: History and Society .Geography Publications, 2004. pp.577-578.
  6. Jump up ^ Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore . Infobase Publishing, 2004. pp.160, 319
  7. Jump up ^ Monaghan, p.27
  8. ^ Jump up to: ab Wakeman, William Frederick. Lough Erne, Enniskillen, Belleek, Ballyshannon and Bundoran . 1870. pp.72-73
  9. Jump up ^ Augusta, Lady Gregory. Part I of Book III: the great battle of Magh Tuireadh. Gods and Fighting Men (1904) on Sacred-Texts.com.
  10. Jump up ^ Michael O’Cleary. The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters translated into English by Owen Connellan.
  11. Jump up ^ “The Story of Conn-eda, or golden apples Lough Erne.” Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish peasantry (1888). Sacred-Texts.com.
  12. Jump up ^ Mason, Rowena (November 20, 2012). “David Cameron: Northern Ireland hosted the G8 summit in Enniskillen”. The Telegraph.London. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  13. Jump up ^ BBC News
  14. Jump up ^ “Inisliroo Island in County Fermanagh offered for sale”. BBC News. 2 May 2012.
  15. Jump up ^ http://www.doeni.gov.uk/…/emcsg-19feb2008-controllinglevelsofloughern
  16. Jump up ^ “Fermanagh suffer worst ever floods.” Belfast Telegraph.
  17. Jump up ^ “History of LEYC”. Lough Erne Yacht Club website. Retrieved 2011-05-18.
  18. Jump up ^ “Lough Erne resort must be a” going concern, “says Foster.”BBC News Online. 13 May 2011. Taken 2011-05-18.
  19. Jump up ^ “Northern Ireland hosted the Irish Open in 2015 and 2017 – the European Tour.” Www.europeantour.com. European Tour Official Website. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  20. Jump up ^ “Latest: Lough Erne Resort” honored “to host the 2017 Irish Open.” Fermanagh Herald. 3 April 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2014.