Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles. It covers 160 square miles and drains almost half of Northern Ireland. Six major rivers flow into the Lough while only one, the Lower Bann, flows out. Due to its international importance for wildfowl the Lough is designated as a Ramsar site, Special Protection Area and Area of Special Scientific Interest.

A number of smaller lakes surround Lough Neagh, including Portmore Lough, Lough Gullion and Lough Beg. These, together with the associated terrestrial habitats of wet woodland, meadows and fen, mean that the Lough Neagh basin is of great importance for biodiversity. It is also famed for the Lough Neagh Fly, a non-biting midge which hatches in enormous numbers in spring and summer and provides food for migratory birds. In its larval form the midge is also the key food source of wintering wildfowl.

The Lough has long been important for people as well, providing many in Northern Ireland with drinking water and supporting eel-fishing and sand dredging industries. Historically reeds from the Lough shore were used for thatching the roofs of local cottages and willow from the surrounding scrub was used for basket weaving. Everybody also knows the legends surrounding the Lough, such as that of its creation by the giant Finn McCool!