Friday, 25 September 2020

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles, fascinates me.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, published in 1844-45, describes Lough Neagh in considerable detail thus:-

LOUGH NEAGH,  a great lake, an inland sea, is in the centre of the eastern half of the province of Ulster.

It is very nearly as large as Lake Geneva; and is second in size to no other lake in Europe, except Lake Ladoga in Russia, and Lake Vänern in Sweden.

It extends from north to south between County Antrim in the east, and counties Tyrone and Londonderry in the west; and its foot belongs to County Antrim, its head to County Armagh, and a tiny portion of its south-east corner to County Down.

Its length, from south to north, is fourteen miles; its length, in diagonal lines from south-east to north-west, and from south-west to north-east, is respectively fifteen and sixteen.

Its breadth, from east to west, but exclusive of a contracted portion at its northern extremity, is from six to eight and a half.

Its surface area is 151 square miles, or 96,640 acres.

The surface elevation of the lake above low-water sea-level [in 1845] is 48 feet.

The principal bays are Antrim Bay, Sandy Bay and Barton's Bay, and Washing Bay.

The islands are few, very small, and all situated near the shores; chiefly Ram's Island, crowned by a pillar tower, in Sandy Bay; Bird's Island, at the south-east corner; Coney Island in the south-west, near the influx of the river Blackwater; Skady Island, and The Three Islands, in the north.

The principal streams which flow into Lough Neagh are the river Maine, and the river Sixmilewater, into Antrim Bay; the Crumlin and the Glenavy rivulets, into Sandy Bay; the Upper Bann river into nearly the middle of the south; the river Blackwater into the south-west; the Ballinderry rivulet into the west; and the Moyola rivulet into the north-west.

The depth of Lough Neagh in nearly all its central and its southern parts varies from two to twenty-six feet.

SEVERAL good landing places and ports occur in each great sweep of shore, and are more or less used by numerous craft which navigate the lake.

The Lagan navigation or canal goes off from the south-east corner to carry vessels down to the sea at Belfast.

The river Upper Bann takes craft to the Newry Canal, along which they are conveyed past Newry to the sea at Carlingford Lough; and the river Blackwater communicates with both the short navigation by the Ulster Canal to Upper Lough Erne.

The waters of Lough Neagh usually attain a surface elevation in winter about seven feet higher than that of summer; and they, in consequence, effect widespread inundations every season, covering upwards of 50,000 acres of good land, and a vast aggregate of boglands and morasses.

About probably every fifteen years they achieve so great and expansive a flood as threatens to render a large portion of the peopled shores totally uninhabitable.

Very much of the land on the immediate shores is so low and constantly morassy, as to be unimprovable except by considerably draining the lake; and even if a considerable draining could be effected, the reclamation of land would perhaps be dearly purchased by the damaging or destruction of the navigation.

The shores all round, though occasionally a little bold, and somewhat curved and indented, never rise to nay considerable elevation, and are, for the most part, so flat and tame, as rarely to depart from almost a dead level.

FISH of various kinds, particularly perch, trout, bream, and the dollaghan [brown trout], are abundant.

Medicinal properties were at one time ascribed to the waters of the lake; but, if not quite imaginary, seem to have belonged to influx of some mineral springs from the neighbouring land, and of course to have been confined to special localities.

A petrifying power was long universally believed, and is still occasionally contended, to exist in the lake; but this power, so far as it is a reality, resides not in the water of the lake, but in the soil of some portions of the shores.


1 comment :

Unknown said...

Hardly the fourth largest lake in Europe - its the 33rd largest.
Largest in area within the British Isles, but a lot more water in Loch Ness
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_lakes_of_Europe

Also deeper than stated - average about 8.9 m. Most of the central open water is around 12-14 m with a deep of 30+m in Toome Bay.
Bob Foy