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Lough Corrib
View on Lough Corrib, south of Clonbur.jpg
View on Lough Corrib, south of Clonbur
Lough Corrib location.png
Location Connacht
Coordinates 53°26′N 9°14′W / 53.433°N 9.233°W / 53.433; -9.233
Native name Loch Coirib Error {{native name checker}}: parameter value is malformed (help)
Primary inflows Cregg River, River Clare, Black River
Primary outflows River Corrib
Basin countries Ireland
Max. length 43.5 km (27.0 mi)
Max. width 16.1 km (10.0 mi)
Surface area 176 km2 (68 sq mi)
Average depth 6.5 m (21 ft)
Max. depth 50.9 m (167 ft)
Designated: 7 June 1996
Reference #: 846

Lough Corrib ( LOKH-_-KORR-ib; Irish: Loch Coirib) is a lake in the west of Ireland. The River Corrib or Galway River connects the lake to the sea at Galway. It is the largest lake within the Republic of Ireland and the second largest on the island of Ireland (after Lough Neagh). It covers 176 km² and lies mostly in County Galway with a small area of its northeast corner in County Mayo.

The first canal on the island of Ireland was cut in the 12th century. Known as the Friar's Cut, it allowed boats to pass from Lough Corrib to the sea at Galway.

Lough Corrib was designated a Ramsar site on 16 June 1996. It has also been designated a Special Area of Conservation.


Loch Coirib is a corruption of Loch Oirbsean. According to placename lore, this refers to Oirbsen or Oirbsiu—another name for the Tuatha Dé Danann figure Manannán mac Lir—who is believed to have been a god of the sea. In Irish, the lough is also called An Choirib ("the Corrib").

Marine archaeology and charts

Surveys have been undertaken since 2007 by a local surveyor/cartographer to create up-to-date charts of Lough Corrib. These have uncovered a number of objects of historical significance, which have been investigated by the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the National Monuments Service. These include Bronze Age and Iron Age vessels (Dugout canoes), the "Annaghkeen Boat" being 40 ft in length and intricately carved, the "Carrowmoreknock Boat", a well preserved 10th century vessel carrying three Viking battle axes, and the wreck of a Victorian pleasure yacht. The lake is hence of international importance as a marine archaeological site. All historic wrecks in the lough are protected, and a licence to dive them is required from the National Monuments Service.


The wildlife in Lough Corrib includes birds and hawks, otters, mink, stoat, frogs, and bats. Lough Corrib can be divided into two parts: a smaller shallower basin to the south and a larger deeper basin to the north. These two parts are connected by a narrow channel. In the southern and eastern parts of the lake, the lake bed is dominated by limestone bedrock covered by deposits of precipitated marl. The surrounding land is mostly pastoral farmland to the south and east and bog to the west and north. In addition to the lake basis, some areas of scientific interest adjoining the lake, e.g. woodland, callows grassland and raised bog, have been incorporated into the Special Area of Conservation.

Threats to ecology

A map taken from the Admiralty Chart made in 1846

In early 2007, large numbers of the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium were detected in water from the lake, leading to contamination of the public water supply in Galway city and an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis. Another unwelcome visitor is the invasive species Lagarosiphon major (also known as 'curly-leaved waterweed' or 'South African pondweed') which is destroying fish habitat and the zebra mussel.

Cryptosporidium outbreak

On 21 March 2007, Cryptosporidium was confirmed to be present in the drinking water of Galway City, Moycullen, Oughterard and Headford, which had been instructed six days earlier to boil their water before drinking. The water taken from Lough Corrib was likely contaminated by migration of animal and human faeces. Controversy emerged when it was revealed that funds previously earmarked to improve Galway's water system had not been spent. Dick Roche, the Minister of the Environment, later announced allocation of additional funds to tackle the issue. Measures included upgrading existing water treatment and filtration systems, as well as the projected importing of water from nearby Luimnagh, Tuam, County Galway. This plant at Luimnagh has facilities for Cryptosporidium eradication and filtration.

The Community Care Organisation, Cope, delivered bottled water to their elderly clients from 30 March 2007. A lobby group was formed in April 2007 to highlight the issue.


Lough Corrib
Minor islands in Lough Corrib

While Lough Corrib is reputed to have 365 islands, a recent figure from the creator of the charts of the lake is 1,327. These islands include Inchagoil Island, midway between Cong and Oughterard. It is one of the largest of the wooded islands along Lough Corrib. The island has views of the Maumturk range, Joyce Country and the mountains of Connemara. There are some beaches and woods with walks around the island. There is evidence of an early monastic settlement, and two churches - Saint Patrick's and the 12th century church known as the "saints" church. St. Brendan of Clonfert is also said to have spent some time on an island in this lake after returning from his travels in Britain. There are several paths around the island, an old cemetery and remains of four or five cottages which housed the few inhabitants.

Another lake island is Caislean-na-Circe, between Maam and Doon. This section of Lough Corrib is free from islands except for the rock on which the ancient Hen's Castle of the O'Connor's and the O'Flaherty's stands. The castle was home of the pirate Queen Gráinne O'Malley, who lived in the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England. In 1225, the Lord Justice caused Odo O'Flatherty to give up Kirk Castle to Odo O'Connor, King of Connaught; for assurance of his fidelity. Cruises on the lough depart from Cong, Ashford Castle, Galway City, and Oughterard.

Influence on writers

William Wilde, father of Oscar Wilde, wrote a book about the lake, Lough Corrib, its Shores and Islands (1867). He built a summerhouse on the banks of the lake, called Moytura House.

The Irish Times states that "the unspoilt countryside around Lough Corrib provided the inspiration" for The Hounds of the Morrigan, a children's novel by Pat O'Shea.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lago Corrib para niños

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