Lough Derg ‘Ireland’s Third Largest Lake’

Lough Derg, from the Irish ‘Loch Deirgdheirc’, was one of the names of the ‘Dagda’ recognised as the Irish God.. …”red eye”

During the medieval times, the lake appeared as an integral part of the water highway stretching from as far west as the Atlantic ocean, through the irish midlands and further to the east, with over 90 heritage sites around the Lough Derg, many associated with the High King of Ireland.. .

Brian Ború

TodaysWanderluster present’s you, with this week’s article on the ‘Lough Derg’ Lake,

‘Ireland’s third Largest Lake’

… would you like to read some more about lakes ? Be sure to check our our article on Killarney National Park where we talk about some of the lakes that you can stumble upon there… .

>To Killarney

hey guys,

Welcome to TodaysWanderluster !! It is Friday 5th of September, the day where we will hit the road once again, in search of yet another fascinating place which finds itself burried in the vast lands of beauty of the country of Ireland.

Our this week’s location, the Lough Derg

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>All images displayed within this article are un-edited versions and belong to Dawid Kucharski.

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Discovering the Lough Derg

The Lough Derg Lake is known in the Republic of Ireland as it’s third largest lake, just after the lakes of Lough Neagh and Lough Corrib.

The Lough Derg is located in the south-western part of the country bordered or ‘having shores’ in three different Munster Province counties, county Galway in the north-west, county Tipperary North in the east and the county of Clare to the south-west.

This Irish lake is said to be the southernmost of the three large size lakes on the River Shannon (longest river in the Republic of Ireland) that include the Lough Ree and Lough Allen with the lake itself measured to be 36 meters at it’s deepest, 12 Km wide at it’s widest, covering a distance of approx. 130 km².

It is also described as a ‘long and narow’ lake, with many towns and/or villages that are situated at or near the shores of the Lough Derg (the shoreline that measures 179 Km) that include, Portumna and Terryglass in the north-east, Dromineer and Garrykennedy in the south-east, and Ballina&Killaloe in the south, other places include ‘Mountshannon’ in the west.

Heritage . History . Culture

Many of you may have been wondering, what is the meaning behind this southern Irish lake. Lough Derg which evolved from the known Irish ‘Loch Deirgdheirc’ was one of the names of the ‘Dagda’ recognised as the Irish God. The literal translation meaning “red eye”.

The TodaysWanderluster has taken out it’s magnifying glass and wanted to take a little bit of a closer look onto the Lough Derg, digging down to some of the history of this Irish lake of a giant, that has sunken down over the years within the lake’s blue waters.

The lake of Lough Derg and it’s shores have a long history of habitation that extend to as early as the prehistoric times.

During the medieval times, the lake appeared as an integral part of the water highway stretching from as far west as the Atlantic ocean, through the irish midlands and further to the east. With over 90 heritage sites that are accessible today around the Lough Derg, many of these sites can be associated with the King of Ireland (Brian Ború) who ruled from Killaloe between the years of 1002 to 1014.

In the 19th century, the lake had also been regarded as an important artery, running through the multiple canals in the midlands of Ireland from the port at Limerick city to the Irish capital, Dublin. This being navigable over it’s entire 40 Km length.

Published in the year 2011 by the Dublin City Council, a plan for a pipeline that would supply up to approx. 350 million litres of fresh water a day from the Lough Derg and into the City of Dublin aswell as the surrounding regions.

Lough Derg is also home to the first ever inland RLNI Lifeboat Station in Ireland, which is located in the village of Dromineer. In June of 2013, an international rowing event which was taking place on the Lough Derg was hit by drastic weather conditions, where a major rescue effort had been undertaken which brought 35 people to safety.

Three years later, in 2016, the Parteen Basin (south of Lough Derg) has been chosen as the proposed site of extraction from the lake, where water would be pumped to a break pressure tank near the village of Cloughjordan at Knockanacree in the county of Tipperary from which would then be transported from there to Dublin City.

Today, the Lough Derg lake is viewed as a popular destination for cruisers and for certain recreational activites such as sailing and fishing.

The University of limerick (UL), has an activity centre by the Lough Derg situated north of Killaloe, where a large number of activities is performed such as canoeing, Kayaking, sailing, windsurfing with the list going on further. Some of these activities which we will be covering in just a second in this article.

Exloring the Lough Derg

Now onto exploring some of the amazing landmarks that stand nearby and around the Lough Derg lake, observing the gorgeous irish countyside terrain and landscape aswell as touching on some of the ecology of this area.

Our first location is located to the north of the Lough Derg at Portumna village, where we can explore the Portumna Castle and the history it holds as well as it’s restored 17th century castle gardens, both located east of the Portumna Forest Walk which covers a vast area of land at the northern tip of the Lough Derg that encompasses a large variety of the different species and their habitats, excellent trails and one of the best spots on our list for activities like cycling, bike cycling or walking etc

Read more on the Portumna Forest Walk & Woods here

From Portumna, here we’ll be moving in a clock-wise direction to the east, near the small village of Lorrha.

Here we can come across the St. Ruadhan’s Abbey which stands just to the east of the Dominican Abbey in the area. Slightly to the north we can find the Lorrha Bog and if we choose to go even further, we will stumble upon a 1970s restored Gaeilic tower house castle Redwood Castle, Lorrha which is one of the last still standing tower houses in this region to be observed.

Further to the east from the St.Ruadhan’s Abbey, we can find the 12th century tower house Lackeen Castle which was later rebuilt in the 16th century resulting in finding a hidden in the walls mass book dating back to the 9th century called the ‘Stow Missall’ which is now stored in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

South-east of the Lough Derg now,

as we are approaching our next location we can already observe from outside town on the county roads, our highest point of historical reference in the area, the Nenagh Castle. Completed in the 13th century (1220) it served as the seat for the Butler family until the year 1391. The recently refurbished tower house counts over 100 steps that bring you to many different floors of the structure, until reaching the roof-less observation deck at the very top which offers amazing views of the whole town and the surrounding regions.

The Nenagh Castle, Nenagh North Co.Tipperary. Image taken by Dawid Kucharski (2020)

In the town of Nenagh, one can also stumble upon the Nenagh Heritage Centre which is located only a few stpes away from the Nenagh Castle in the centre of the town. The Heritage centre, located in the old governor’s House of the County Gaol, is home to a small museum, exhibiting a re-created school room from the 1900s, a kitchen from the goal from the 1800s along with a few others and a genealogy centre.

Other sites that can be found in the town of Nenagh include among others, the St. Mary’s of the Rosary Church and the Nenagh Friary.

Comment down below if you’d like to learn more about Nenagh, we’ll be more than happy to take our trip there

Moving out into the countryside, past the village of Portroe and half-way to Ballina-Killaloe (south of the Lourg Derg) hidden are the Graves of Leinstermen at Tountinna, which are also supposedly thought to be part of a Neolithic stone circle.

With this burial site situated on an area of high ground, the views obtained at the very top at the Viewing Point of the river Shannon nearby can be described as spectacular and jaw-dropping, as we can observe the full landscape all around the region and much more of the Lough Derg lake and the lands past it’s western shoreline.

Ballina & Killaloe are our next location by the Lough Derg, a twin town in the area connected by the Ballina-Killaloe bridge, two towns holding hands.

The Spirit of Killaloe, Balina & Killaloe. Image taken by Dawid Kucharski (2020)

Here, we can explore the St.Flannan’s Cathedral in Killaloe with the tower accessible to tourists.

Another site at the twin town is the Brian Boru Heritage Centre which can be found on the bridge in Killaoe. The Heritage Centre helps it’s visitors discover the history of Killaoe town from where the King of Ireland Brain Boru ruled from (The High King of Itreland) born in the year 940 AD.

A little up north from the twin town of Ballina&Killaoe we can find the Brian Boru Ring Fort situated on the road to Tuamgraney and served as the ancient seat of Brian Boru, it is another great location to explore whilst on the road.

Some of the other locations near the Lough Derg that may be worth a visit are the Fall of Doonass, the largest waterfall found on the otherwise gently sloping river. These falls can be found near a hydroelectric power plant near Ardnacrusha, the world’s largest built plant when first built back in 1927.

Having reached the western shoreline, let’s take a look at what awaits us there.

The East Galway Family History Society, Woodford is the place to go if your interested in tracing your family history in Galway. The Society at Woodford has been collecting every record to land in the aid to help compile family histories, as far back as 1991.

Holy Island on the Lough Derg, south west of Mountshannon belongs to one of the biggest islands that can be found on th entire lake. Holy Island or in Irish ‘Inis Cealtra’ was once a monastic settlement and currently displays an irish round tower, the ruins of many small churches, part of a 4 high crosses and a holy well.

In 2012, the Lough Derg welcomed a new resident which were a breeding pair of the white-tailed eagles marking a success for the ‘Irish Reintroduction programme’ which started it’s works back in the summer of 2007.

2016 saw the ‘Nitellopsis obtusa‘ or an invasive alga from the family Characeae for the first time in Ireland at the Lough Derg lake. Listed as a Special Area of Conservation is the North-East Shore of the Lough Derg .


“..an area of great charm, natural beauty and heritage”

Lough Derg as described by discoverloughderg.ie.

Surfing, Canoeing, Waterskiing and Kayaking are just some of the many fun activities that one can try out when at the Lough Derg Lake.

However, if you feel like your not really the ‘water loving’ person, don’t worry, as you can discover this magnificent Irish lake and it’s stunning scenery and the landscape of the region by foot from it’s shorelines when following one or both of it’s two known walking trails, the ‘East Clare Way’ and the ‘Lough Derg Way’.

Following the river Shannon and all of it’s associated canals that run north-west towards the Dromineer lake port on the Lough Derg, 64 Km long and marking it’s start in Limerick City at the Tourist Office behind the hunt museum, the trail runs through the hamlet of Clonlara, the village of the O’Briensbridge and the twin town of Killaloe-Balina (Killaloe known as a heritage town in the county and the home town of a once great 11th century High King of Ireland, a very important figure in Irish history, ‘Brian Boru’.)

More information on the Lough Derg Way can be found here

Cycling routes and mountain bike trails can also be found around the area that guarantee amazing views and scenery aswell as a set of great challenges that one would be inclined to face for oneself.

Tipperary countryside, between Balina and Portroe and the Lough Derg Lake. Image taken by Dawid Kucharski (2020)

Thank you for joining us on this adventure of the Lough Derg. We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and found it informative.

Next Week, we will be moving west, just across to Limerick county next door, where together we will discover the ancient lake of ‘Lough Gur’.

Our previous article on the ‘Portumna Woods’ you may find here or in the below panel if featured.

Share with us your feedback in the comment section below, tell us what you thought of our article today and perhaps what would you like to see us write about in the future. Reach us out on our social media platforms below.

Thank you for your support, slán go fóill !!

Published by Dawid Kucharski

Would you like to know more about me? Hey!! My name is Dawid Kucharski, I'm the administrator of TodaysWanderluster and head of our team. I help with the publishing of our weekly articles and I'm also the team's Photographer. I have been building my online presence since joining on Instagram in 2015, where I picked up an interest in photography. Recently I took part in the LensCulture Street Photography competition 2020 and currently I'm working hard on improving my photography skills. Earlier in April, together with my team, I helped with launching our project 'TodaysWanderluster' and we are constantly working hard to produce amazing weekly content for you. Thank you for visiting. Check out the 'About us' page for more information.

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