Lough Foyle

Lough Foyle

Lough Foyle ("Loch Feabhail" in Irish) is the name given to the estuary of the River Foyle in Ulster. It starts where the Foyle leaves Derry. It separates the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal from County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

There is a saying, that when one is on a boat on Lough Foyle, one is at the only place in the world where north is south, and south is north. (The Republic of Ireland, even Donegal, is referred to as "the South" by many in Northern Ireland, while "the North" is a common term for Northern Ireland).


*In the summer time, a ferry service operates between Donegal and County Londonderry over Lough Foyle.
*The Broharris Canal was constructed in the 1820s when a cut, some two miles long on the south shore of Lough Foyle near Ballykelly was made in the direction of Limavady. It served both as a drainage channel and a navigation with goods being brought from the port of Derry, and shellfish and kelp from the sand banks along the shore.
*In 1792 the four mile Strabane Canal was constructed from the tidal waters of Lough Foyle at Leck, to Strabane. The canal fell into disuse in 1962. In June 2006 the Strabane Lifford Development Commission awarded a £1.3m cross-border waterways restoration contract. The project involves the restoration of one and a half miles of canal and two locks to working order. Work is due to start on the Lough Foyle side of the canal in the summer of 2006.

Flora and fauna


A survey of Lough Foyle was made between March 1937 and June 1939 by H. Blackler. Blackler, H. 1951. An algal survey of Lough Foyle, Northern Ireland. "Proc. R. Ir. Acad." 54B(6):97 - 139] In this a map shows the distribution of certain species of algae in the lough and a full annotated list of the algae recorded along with photographs of the different sites. The list included: Cyanophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Phaeophyceae, Rhodophyceae, lichens and two species of Zostera. The marine algae of Lough Foyle are also included in Morton (2003).Morton, O. 2003. The marine macroalgae of County Donegal, Ireland.. "Bull. Ir. biogeog. Soc."27: 3 - 164]


The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has a reserve at the lough. [ [http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/loughfoyle/index.asp Royal Society for the Protection of Birds] ]

Ramsar site

The Lough Foyle Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention), is 2204.36 hectares in area, at Latitude 55 05 24 N and Longitude 07 01 37 W. It was designated a Ramsar site on 2 February 1999. The site consists of a large shallow sea lough which includes the estuaries of the rivers Foyle, Faughan and Roe. It contains extensive intertidal areas of mudflats and sandflats, salt marsh and associated brackish ditches. The site qualified under Criterion 1 of the Ramsar Convention because it is a particularly good representative example of a wetland complex which plays a substantial hydrological, biological and ecological system role in the natural functioning of a major river basin located in a trans-border position. It also qualified under Ramsar criterion 2 as it supports an appreciable number of rare, vulnerable or endangered species of plant and animal. A range of notable fish species have been recorded for the Lough Foyle estuaryand the lower reaches of some of its tributary rivers. These include Allis shad, Twait shad, Smelt and Sea lamprey, all of which are Irish Red Data Book species. Important populations of Atlantic salmon migrate through the system to and from their spawning grounds.cite web | title=Designated and Proposed Ramsar sites in Northern Ireland | work=Joint Nature Conservation Committee | url=http://www.jncc.gov.uk/pdf/RIS/UK12014.pdf | accessdate=2008-07-07]

The site also qualified under Ramsar criterion 3 as it supports a large numbers of wintering waterfowl including internationally important populations of Whooper Swan, Light-bellied Brent Goose and Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as wildfowl species which are nationally important in an all-Ireland context, including Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Bewick’s Swan, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Common Teal, Mallard, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Eider, and Red-breasted Merganser. Nationally important wader species include Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Red Knot, Dunlin, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank and Greenshank.


The main character of Alfred Bester's famous science-fiction novel, The Stars My Destination, is named Gulliver Foyle. Bester took the names of his characters from various locations in Ireland and Great Britain.

ee also

*List of loughs in Northern Ireland
*List of Ramsar sites in Northern Ireland


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