Lough MacNean, Ireland & United Kingdom

Also known as:  Upper Lough MacNean, Lower Lough MacNean

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lough MacNean — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Lough MacNean cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lough MacNean

Lough MacNean, a freshwater lake (lough) surrounded by picturesque scenery, is often referred to by Upper Lough MacNean and Lower Lough MacNean. This spring-fed body of water forms a natural boundary between the counties of Cavan and Leitrim in the Republic of Ireland and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. With a total surface area of 2,429 acres, Northern Ireland claims 1,131 acres with the majority of the water near the town of Belcoo.

Lough MacNean contains two islands, Cushrush Island and Inis Island, also known as Jinny’s Island. Inis Island is the smaller of the two and is completely forested. Cushrush Island is used for farming and grazing. A causeway connects the two islands and the mainland to make it easier to get the animals from place to place. Evidenced by a large find of flint tools and other relics, it is believed that Cushrush Island was inhabited as early as the Mesolithic period.

The shoreline and surrounding land of Lough MacNean vary distinctly. Upper Lough MacNean has wooded areas and deep bays with reed swamps and hedges. Lower Lough MacNean is characterized by steep limestone slopes and a more developed agriculture shoreline consisting of large open meadows perfect for grazing sheep and cattle. Privately owned real estate along the shoreline ranges from vacation resorts, small cottages, and farm houses to large estates owned by the same family for centuries.

During the early 19th century in the United Kingdom, recreational fishing was a sport reserved for the gentry who angled for what they called game fish, salmon and trout. Any other fish were disdained by this upper society and described as “coarse fish”. Today, the term coarse fishing is widely used in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Lough MacNean has a reputation for being a great coarse fishing destination for perch, bream, roach, hybrids, eels, brown trout, and most notably pike. Multiple launches around the lake allow for easy access for swimming, boating, canoeing, and kayaking.

The famous Lough MacNean Sculpture Trail, a 40-mile circular trail which winds through the boundaries of Cavan, Leitrim, and Fermanagh Counties and into Northern Ireland, was designed to promote reconciliation between the communities participating in the project. Sculptures were created by artists from the area and local schools, then placed along the walking trail so that hikers and bikers could enjoy the walk and ponder upon the meaning of the artwork created to overcome years of political strife between communities along the lough.

The area around Lough MacNean offers outdoor enthusiasts other unique opportunities for hill walking, golfing, cycling, and potholing, the local term for caving. Cuilcagh Mountain overlooks the lough and attracts hill walkers who prefer a more difficult terrain. For less strenuous walks, trails through the Glenfarne Forest provide classic wooded scenery and a chance to watch for the many rare birds that inhabit the area. A local geopark allows visitors to witness first hand the underground world of rivers, waterfalls, caves and winding passages led and narrated by guides. Golfers will have a hard time choosing between the 10 championship golf courses available within a 30 mile radius. Vacation rentals available during your exploration include ensuite rooms, bed and breakfast inns, hostels, self-catering cottages, and lodges.

Local residents take great pride in the clean water of Lough MacNean and are constantly working on ways to enhance their environment and refurbish the area. Come for a visit to their home and witness for yourself their efforts in heritage gardens, tree plantations, and bird box building to enhance the beauty of their home. A land with great history and an even greater future is waiting to give you a memorable holiday.

Things to Do at Lough MacNean

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Waterfall
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Lough MacNean

  • Brown Trout
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Lough MacNean

If you’re considering a Lough MacNean lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lough MacNean Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lough MacNean lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lough MacNean Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,429 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 151 feet

Maximum Depth: 70 feet

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Lough MacNean Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


Advertise Your Lough MacNean Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.


Looking for the Lough MacNean Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Lough MacNean Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Lough MacNean article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!