|Location||County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland|
|Basin countries||Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland|
Lough Erne (Irish : Loch Éirne) Lake of the Érnai, one of the ancient Fir Bolg tribes) refers to two lakes in Northern Ireland, which are in effect widened sections of the River Erne. The waterway is mostly situated in County Fermanagh. The river begins by flowing north, and then curves west into the Atlantic Ocean. The southern-most lake is further up the river and so is named Upper Lough Erne. The northern lake is Lower Lough Erne. The town of Enniskillen is situated on the short stretch of the river between the lakes. The lakeside is high and rocky in some parts and, in addition to the 154 islands, there are many coves and inlets. When windy, navigation on Lower Lough Erne, running for 26 miles almost to the Atlantic, can be something of a challenge with waves of open-sea dimensions. Shallow Upper Lough Erne, flowing south-east of Enniskillen for about 12 miles, is a maze of islands.
The lakes contain many small islands and peninsulas, which are also called "islands" because of the highly convoluted shoreline and because many of them were islands prior to two extensive drainage schemes in the 1880s which dropped the water level by 1.5 metres.
Islands in Lower Lough Erne
Islands in the lower lake include Boa Island, Cleenishmeen Island, Crevinishaughy Island, Cruninish Island, Devenish Island, Ely Island, Goat Island, Horse Island, Inish Doney, Inish Fovar, Inish Lougher, Inish More, Inishmacsaint, Inishmakill, Lustybeg Island, Lustymore Island and White Island.
Islands in Upper Lough Erne
Those in the upper lake include Bleanish Island, Dernish Island, Inishcorkish, Inishcrevan, Inishfendra, Inishleague, Inishlught, Inishturk, Killygowan Island, Naan Island and Trannish. Several of the islands are privately owned, and occasionally come on to the open market. In 2007 Inishturk went on the market at the price of £695,000.
Interestingly, Fermanagh escaped the Irish Potato Famine better than any other county, as the county had so many islands. The potato blight had difficulty travelling over water, compared to the easier transmission across the green hills and fields of most of Ireland. Those Erne islands produced surprising amounts of potatoes (the staple diet on the island, from 1845-1849), whilst the mainland was largely starving in comparison.
The Annals of Ulster were written in the late 15th century on Belle Isle, an island in Upper Lough Erne.
Waterways Ireland, a cross-border organisation, established under the Belfast Agreement 1999, is responsible for navigation on the Erne System, as well the island of Ireland's other navigable waterways. Rivers Agency, an executive agency within Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, retains ownership of the bed and foreshore and manages water levels within the ranges specified in the Erne Drainage and Development Act (1950).
Lough Erne is a particularly scenic waterway, renowned for its beautiful setting. The area is popular for angling and watersports, with waterskiing and wakeboarding being amongst the most popular; the stretch of water alongside the Broadmeadow, Enniskillen, has hosted stages of the World Waterski Championships annually since 2005, and in 2007, a pro-wakeboard competition, 'Wakejam' was hosted by the Erne Wakeboard Club (EWC) after successful national wakeboard competitions in the previous years. Canoeing is also a popular recreational sport on the Erne.
A canal, the Shannon-Erne Waterway, runs between the upper end of the River Shannon and the River Erne, allowing boat movements from the Shannon estuary in southwest Ireland, through the western midlands of the country, across to the northwest and out to the Atlantic again (although the final section to the Atlantic side of Belleek is not navigable).
- "Lough Erne". Geographia - Original Official Site of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. http://www.geographia.com/northern-ireland/ukifer01.htm. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
- BBC News
- "Lough Erne Yacht Club". Club website. http://www.leyc.net/v2/. Retrieved 28 February 2009.