The West of Ireland is dotted with many fresh water lakes and has often been described as Ireland's Lake District.The largest and most navigable of these lakes is Lough Corrib, and covering an area of 68 sq miles/175 sq kilometres (44,000 acres), it is also the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland.
From the Maam valley in Connemara to Galway city in the South it has a length of 40 miles /64 kilometers while the widest part of the lake reaches from Cong Co. Mayo to Oughterard Co. Galway, a distance of 9 miles 15 kilometres.
To the West of Lough Corrib you have Connemara a land of mountain and bog while to the East you have the more fertile plains of County Mayo. To the North an isthmus of land separates Lough Corrib from our second largest lake Lough Mask which is a spring fed lake measuring 40 sq miles/100 sq kilometres.
Lough Mask a more elevated lake sits 40 ft/12 meters higher in altitude than Lough Corrib. A series of sub teranean streams travelling south wards an eventually all of this water emerges from the ground in the village of Cong, at a place called "the rising of the waters". This water, now called the Cong river surrounds the Island village of Cong before eventually approaching Ashford Castle at which point it enters Lough Corrib. The name Cong actually comes from a Gaelic word "Cung" meaning narrow or slender and this describes the isthmus of land between the lakes on which the village lies.
Indeed in 1848 an attempt was made to join the two lakes by way of a canal whose main aim was to allow steamer traffic from Galway port through to Lough Mask and onto Lough Carra. Because of the porous nature of the limestone this was to become an engineering disaster because the bed of the Canal proved too porous and was unable to retain water. This artificial waterway elaborately finished with sluicegates, substancial locks of cut stone and arched bridges has since been now as the dry canal.
The deepest part of Lough Corrib is 152 ft/47 meters, but its average depth is approximately 40ft/12meters. To-day Lough Corrib is considered to be one of the best fishing lakes in Europe. It is home to a variety of fresh water fish including brown trout, pike, perch, and roach, and it also attracts salmon and eels from the Atlantic Ocean.
The lake enters the ocean at Galway city via the Corrib River. The Atlantic ocean is 27ft/8 meters lower than Lough Corrib in altitude and for this reason the lake is unaffected by tidal conditions. However the water level in the lake does vary by about 3 ft from winter to summer. Our salmon come from the coast of Nova Schoca while the eels come from the Saragoca sea.
Fishing methods on the lake and its rivers include spinning, trolling, dapping and dry fly fishing and the season runs from March to September.
It is said that there are365 islands on Lough Corrib, one Island for each day of the year. There are approximately 10 of these islands inhabited to-day:
Inishmacatreer 15 families
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Book: A Voyage of Discovery (English)