Lough Lene, Ireland

Lake Locations:

Ireland - East Coast & Midlands -

Also known as:  Lough Lane, Lough Lein, Lough Leibinn

Ireland’s Lough Lene is a natural freshwater glacial lake in northern Westmeath, an inland county in the province of Leinster. This lake has an irregular, flattened oval shape and is noted for its clarity and pristine condition. References to its remarkably transparent waters repeatedly deem the lake “gin clear”–though at a maximum depth of 66 feet (20 meters), it’s a rather shallow lake by most standards. Research has suggested that the lake is fed by groundwater, since no surface inflow is apparent. Outflow is a stream from eastern Lough Lene that leads into the River Deel.

Lough Lene is situated centrally among the villages of Fore, Collinstown, and Castlepollard. Nearby villages Collinstown, Richardstown, and Glenidan all rely on Lough Lene as a reservoir for their water supplies. Other nearby lakes in the county include Lough Derravaragh, which is 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) from Lough Lene to the west; Lough Owel, 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) to the southwest; and the larger Lough Ree, 31 miles (50 kilometers) to the southwest. Lough Lene is only about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the Dublin airport, which makes it fairly accessible to air travel vacationers.

Mullingar, the nearby busy commercial and tourist center, is located about 20 minutes from Lough Lene by car; this area is connected to other parts of Ireland through the Royal Canal, a series of 46 locks, that links the River Shannon to the city of Dublin. With its presence on this popular travel and trade route, Mullingar has become known as possibly the best cattle-raising district in all of Ireland. It’s also the home of Mullingar Pewter, a company famed for its pewter products. The Mullingar Arts Centre is known for its cultural activities and live entertainment.

Mullingar sits at the head of the Fore Trail, which is a tour taken by car that covers many historic locations on a scenic route. Travelers on this circuitous route will encounter many attractions of note, including Knockdrin Castle, Crookedwood village, Taughmon Church and its fort, Lough Derravaragh, Collinstown village, Lough Lene, Fore Abbey, Lough Crew cairns and gardens, Tullynally Castle and gardens, and Multyfarnham. One the way back to Mullingar, Lough Owel and its islands are accessible, and along the trail there are opportunities to stop and rest or have a leisurely picnic.

Fishing in Lough Lene is allowed from March 1 to September 30 each year. From the shore or by boat, anglers enjoy the beautiful surroundings as much as the large-sized pike and wild brown trout that the lake yields. It’s been called the favorite and most productive fishing lake in Ireland. Some of its best features include its three islands, Nun’s Island, Castle Island, and Turgesius Island, which are extensively surrounded by shallows and excellent locations for good fishing, including fly-fishing. The three islands in Lough Lene are collectively known as Smythe’s Islands, which may be a reference to William Barlow Smythe, who once owned at least two of these islands during the 1880s. All three are thought to have been used for refuge and safety during times of turmoil; all have been sites of important archeological finds and contain ruins of significance. Monks Island, which was the fourth island in this lake according to older maps, seems to have been subsumed by the wetlands around the lake.

Lough Lene is a wonderful family vacation destination for its variety of flora and fauna and its unspoiled environment. Although many water activities are enjoyed there, including windsurfing, sailing, and swimming, restrictions keep jet skis and water skis from being used on the lake. The community of farmers in the area has long been active in keeping the lake free of pollutants and unnecessary man-made influence. This self-regulation, which includes the management of farm runoff to minimize impact on aquatic and other wildlife health, earned Lough Lene a Blue Flag, the first freshwater lake to receive such designation from the European Union’s international pro-environmental initiative. The Blue Flag Programme, made official in 1987, recognizes areas that have been shown to maintain good water purity and sanitation as well as an effort to upkeep high environmental standards.

With its excellent water quality and diverse environment, the lake’s area is a lush habitat for such birds as the tufted duck, gray heron, mallard, water rail, mute swan, teal, curlew, lapwing, snipe, cormorant, wigeon, and pochard. At the northwestern end of Lough Lene, which is a wooded area, sphagnum mosses, bilberry, and fragrant heather are abundant. In the wet woodland area, birch, alder, willow, march pennywort, jointed rush, pondweed, stoneworts, and the common reed are all present and thriving. At 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long and 1 mile (1.7 kilometers) wide, and covering about 500 hectares, the lake supports a wide array of species in the water and out. On land, goats, sheep, horses, and cattle are commonly seen dotting the picturesque countryside.

Outdoor activities are plentiful for visitors, including horseback riding, golf, cycling, hiking, and touring historic gardens and the numerous archeologically significant sites. Lough Lene boasts a variety of ancient ruins, prehistoric burial sites, and is purported to have been the home of a king, Turgesius.

Lough Lene has also been known by several other names in its past, including Lough Lein, Lough Leibinn, and Lough Lane. It’s an unusual lake for its hard-water status; marlstone and limestone are the dominant minerals in the lakebed. As a lake surrounded by historic significance and natural beauty, it’s no wonder that the area around Lough Lene is a popular destination.

A wide variety of lodging accommodations is available, including self-catering cottages, renovated farmhouses and charming bed and breakfasts, woodsy lodges and cabins, and most any other type of holiday rental one could imagine. Vacations and holidays spent in Ireland are unforgettable. It’s a magical land with a warm, welcoming population that draws travelers in and makes them want to stay on. Some vacationers do just that: real estate is available in Ireland for those wishing to buy a summer cottage or build their own dream home in this rugged and beautiful landscape.

Fore village’s Fore Abbey is the site of an ancient monastery which was built during the time of the yellow plague, around 630 A.D. Three decades after it was founded, more than 300 monks lived in the community. Located only 10 minutes from Lough Lene, this is an impressive destination for its standing ruins as well as the Seven Wonders of Fore, which includes “the water that flows uphill” and “the tree that won’t burn.” Fore Abbey is open year round and charges no admission. Although it was burned 12 times between 771 and 1169 A.D., Fore Abbey was always rebuilt. It’s a very popular attraction, and the area surrounding it feels thick with a sense of history and purpose.
it feels thick with a sense of history and purpose.

Things to do at Lough Lene

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lough Lene

  • Brown Trout
  • Pike
  • Trout

Lough Lene Photo Gallery

Lough Lene Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,029 acres

Shoreline Length: 9 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 312 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 311 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 314 feet

Maximum Depth: 65 feet

Water Volume: 26,117 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 4.4 years

Lake Area-Population: 1,200

Drainage Area: 5 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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