Lough Neagh  , (pronounced / ˌ l ɒ xn eɪ /,  lokh ja  ) is a freshwater lake in Northern Ireland. The largest lake by area in the British Isles, deliver the 40% of Northern Ireland’s water.  [3] [4]  Its name comes from the Irish:  Loch nEachach  , which means “Lake of Eachaidh”, but today it is usually spelled Loch nEathach  (Irish : [ɫ̪ɔx n̠ʲahax].) in Irish  [5]  Lough owned by the Earl of Shaftesbury. 


With an area of 151 square miles (392 km  2  ), it is the largest lake on the island of Ireland, the 15th largest lake in the European Union  [3] [4]  and is ranked 31 in the list of largest lakes of Europe. Located 20 miles (30 km) west of Belfast, is about 20 miles (30 km) long and nine miles (15 km) wide. It is very shallow around the margins and the average depth in the main part of the lake (9 m), about 30 feet, although the lough deepest is about 80 feet (25m) deep. 


Of the 1760 square miles (4550 km  2  ) catchment, about 9% is located in Ireland and 91% in Northern Ireland,  [6]  a total of 43% of the land area of Northern Ireland is drained into Lough,  [7]  which itself flows out northwards to the sea via the River Bann. As one of the sources, the upper Bann Lough can itself be considered as part of Bann. Lough Neagh is fed by many tributaries, including the rivers  Main  (34 mi) Six Mile Water (21 ml), Upper Bann (40 mi) Blackwater (57 mi) Ballinderry (29 mi) and Moyola (31 mi)  [8]

Islands and peninsulas

  • Coney Island
  • Coney Island Flat
  • Flat Croaghan
  • Derrywarragh Island
  • Flat Kinturk
  • Oxford Island (peninsula)
  • Padian
  • Ram Island
  • Phil Roe plate
  • The shallow Flat
  • Traad (peninsula)

Towns and Villages

Towns and villages near the Lough include Craigavon, Antrim, Crumlin, Randalstown, Toomebridge, Ballyronan, Ballinderry, Moortown, Ardboe, Maghery, Lurgan and Magherafelt.


Five of the six counties of Northern Ireland have shores on Lough (only Fermanagh does not), and its area is shared among them. Counties listed clockwise:

  1. Antrim (eastern and northern shores of the lake)
  2. Down (small part in the southeast)
  3. Armagh (south)
  4. Tyrone (west)
  5. Londonderry (northern part of the western shore)

municipal Districts

The area of the lake is divided between four municipal districts in Northern Ireland, listed clockwise:  [9]

  • 3 Antrim and Newtownabbey, in northeastern
  • 4 Lisburn and Castlereagh, east
  • 6 Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, in the south
  • 9 Mid Ulster in the west


Although the Lough is used for a variety of recreational and commercial activities, it is fragile and tends to get very serious very quickly in windy conditions.

Water supply

Lough used by Northern Ireland Water as a source of fresh water. The Lough supplies 40% of the region’s drinking water. There have long been plans to increase the amount of water drawn from the Lough, through a new treatment plant works at Hog Park Point, but these have not yet been realized. The Lough ownership of the Earl of Shaftesbury has implications for planned changes in government domestic water services in Northern Ireland,  [10]  that the lough is also used as a sewer outlet, and this arrangement is only permitted by the British Crown immunity.  [ Citation needed ] In 2012 it was reported that Earl considering transferring ownership of Lough to the Northern Ireland Assembly.  [11]  


Traditional working boats on Lough Neagh include wide beamed from 4.9 to 6.4 meters (16 to 21 feet) clinker-built, Spirits-rigged working boats and smaller flat-bottomed “cots” and “flats”. Barges, here called “lighters” was used until the 1940s to transport coal over the lough and adjacent canals.Until the 17th century, log boats (  coití  ) were the main mode of transportation. Some traditional boats are left now, but a community-based group on the southern shore of the lough is based on a range of workboats. [12]

In the 19th century, three canals were constructed with the help of the lough to connect various ports and cities: Lagan Navigation link from the city of Belfast, the Newry Canal Attached to the port of Newry, and the Ulster canal led to Lough Erne navigation, providing a navigable inland route via the river Shannon to Limerick, Dublin and Waterford. Lower Bann was also navigable to Coleraine and the Antrim coast, and the short Coalisland Canal as a route for coal transportation. Of these waterways, only the lower Bann remains open today, although a recovery plan for the Ulster Canal is underway.

Lough Neagh Rescue provides search and rescue services 24 hours a day. It is a voluntary service funded by the district bordering the Lough. Its members are well trained and is a declared facility for Coast Guard coordinates rescue on Lough Neagh.


Lough Neagh attracts bird watchers from many nations due to the number and variety of birds that winter and summer in the bogs and beaches around the lough.


The flora of the northeastern part of Northern Ireland contains algae:  Chara aspera  ,  Chara globe  . Each  sphere  ,  Chara globe  . Where  virgate  ,  Chara vulgaris  . Where  vulgaris  ,  Chara vulgaris  var.  Papillata  ,  Tolypella nidifica  each.  Slick  .  [13] The  record of Angiospermae include:  ranunculus flammula  . was  pseudoreptans  ,  ranunculus auricomus  ,  Ranunculatus sceleratus  ,  Ranunculatus circinatus  ,  Ranunculatus peltatus  ,  extended box  ,  coastline box  . subsp  minus  ,  Nymphaea alba  ,  Ceratophyllum demersum  ,  sylörter water  ,  Erophila Verna  . sub  samples  ,  Cuckooflower  , lundbräsma  ,  Cardamine flexuosa  ,  sumpfräne  ,  fran amphibian  , mignonette  ,  sweet violet  ,  herb pansy  ,  Viola tricolor  ssp.  Violoa tricolor ssp.  curtissi  ,  hypericum androsaemum  ,  Hypericum maculatum  ,  Elatine hydro  ,  Silene vulgaris  ,  Rödblära  ,  SOAPWORT  ,  [13]


Eel fishing has been a major industry in Lough Neagh for centuries. These European eel get from the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean, about 4,000 miles along the Gulf Stream to the mouth of the River Bann, and then get into the lough. They remain there for about 10 to 15 years, matures, before returning to the Sargasso to spawn. Today Lough Neagh eel fisheries export their eels to restaurants all over the world, and Lough Neagh Eel has been granted protected geographical status under EU law.  [14]

Mythology and folklore

The Irish mythical story  Cath Maige Tuired  ( “Battle of Moytura”), is Lough Neagh known as one of the top 12 Loughs in Ireland.  [15]  The origin of the lake and its name is explained in an Irish tale that was written down in the Middle Ages, but is probably pre-Christian.  [16] [17]  According to the tale, the lake is named after Echaid (modern spelling: Eochaidh or Eachaidh), who was the son of Mairid (Mairidh), a king of Munster. Echaid falls in love with his stepmother, a young woman named Ébliu (Ébhlinne). They try to escape, along with many of its holder, but someone kills their horses. In some versions, the horses are killed by Midir (Midhir), which can be another name for Ébliu husband Mairid.Óengus (Aonghus) will appear and provide them with a huge horse that can carry all their belongings. Óengus warning that they must not let the horse rest or it will be their downfall. But after reaching the Ulster horse stop and urinate, and a spring rising from the site. Echaid decides to build a house there and cover the spring with a cornerstone to stop it overflowing. One night Capstone is not replaced and spring flooding, drowning Echaid and most of his family, and to create  Loch n-Echach  (  Loch nEachach  : Lake Eochaidh or Eachaidh).  [16] [17]  

The character Eochaidh refers to the Daghdha, a god of the ancient Irish also called Eochaidh Ollathair (which means “horsemen, father of all”).  [17] Ébhlinne, Midhir and Aonghus was also the names of the gods. Mary McGrath and Joan Griffith writes that the idea of a supernatural being create the landscape with their own body is an old man that is common to many pre-Christian cultures.  [17]  A Gaelic September called UI Eachach (which means “descendants of Eochaidh”) lived in area and it is likely that their name comes from the cult of the god Eochaidh.  [16]

Another story tells how the lake was formed when Ireland’s legendary giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) scooped up a bit of earth and threw it at a Scottish rival. It fell into the Irish Sea, form the Isle of Man, while the crater left behind filled with water to form the Lough Neagh.  [18]

See also

  • List of Loughs in Ireland
  • Lough Beg
  • Portmore Lough


  1. Jump up ^ Naijural Heirship: Peat Moss NI Environment and Heritage Service.
  2. Jump up ^ org
  3. ^ Jump up to: a b Official Tourism Ireland website
  4. ^ Jump up to: a b com
  5. Jump up ^ Deirdre Flanagan and Laurance Flanagan, Irish placenta (Gill & Macmillan Ltd, 1994)
  6. Jump up ^  “Lough Neagh.” UK Environmental Change Network.Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  7. Jump up ^ Northern Ireland Rivers Agency
  8. Jump up ^ Ordnance Survey of IrelandRivers and their watersheds, 1958 (table reference)
  9. Jump up ^ nisra.gov.uk
  10. Jump up ^  “Sudden death can affect NI Water”. BBC News. 19 May 2005.
  11. Jump up ^  “Earl of Shaftesbury does not exclude Lough Neagh sale”.BBC News.
  12. Jump up ^ Lough Neagh Boating Heritage Association
  13. ^ Jump up to: a b Hackney, P. 1992.  Stewart & Corry Flora in northeastern Ireland.  Third Edition. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen’s University of Belfast. ISBN 0 85389 446 9
  14. Jump up ^ official list of UK protected foods. Taken Accessed 15 christmas 2011.
  15. 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.
  16. ^ Jump up to: a b c Ó hÓgáin, Daithi.  Myth, Legend & Romance: An Encyclopedia of the Irish folk tradition  . Prentice Hall Press, 1991. p.181
  17. ^ Jump up to: a b c d Mary McGrath, Joan C. Griffith.  The Irish Draught Horse: A History  . Collins, 2005. p.44
  18. Jump up ^ Lough Neagh Heritage: Folklore & Legends