Glenamaddy Turlough

Useful Information

Location: At Glenamaddy.
R362 near Glenamaddy, car park and viewing area on the northern lake-shore opposite the graveyard.
(53.597222, -8.538889)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Karstkarst lake Turlough
Light: n/a
Dimension: Ar=170 ha.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: O. Naughton, P.M Johnston, L.W. Gill (2012):
Groundwater flooding in Irish karst: The hydrological characterisation of ephemeral lakes (turloughs).
Journal of Hydrology 470–471 (2012), pp 82–97. DOI pdf
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


190? Creggs road raised and a wall built to prevent road flooding.
1930 ten to fifteen yards of the Creggs road was washed away.
1960s Creggs road washed away again.
1989 concrete wall replaced by a strong stone wall which held the flood water at bay for some time.
2005 designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
2007 in the very wet summer the lake didn’t dry out and in August it was at its full winter level.
2016 road raised again to counteract unprecedented rainfall in successive years.


The Glenamaddy Turlough is possibly the explanation for the name Glenamaddy. Gleann means valley and Madagh means either dog or black in Gaelic, so Glenamaddy would translate as The Valley of the Dogs or Valley of the Black Plain. The second versions seems logical, as the lake dries up in summer, and the floor of the lake is covered by black sediments, consisting of a mixture of clay and peat. But there are also legends that it was named so because it has the shape of dog, a legend which is squashed by a look of Google Earth.

Turlough is an Irish term for lakes that dry up in the summer, we also call them karst lakes. But the Irish term is also used by scientific speleology. Glenamaddy Turlough is considered the largest and best representations of a turlough in Ireland The lake has no subaerial drainage, but it is connected by an underground cave system with Lough Lurgeen and Leitra.

The turlough has two swallow-holes, Pollnadeirce within the turlough and Pollanargid to the west in Garvey’s field. The water flows underground to the Leitra spring. There are no outlets on the surface. The lake is fed by rain water and the Lough Lurgeen raised bog in the southeast, which extends to over 1,000 ha. Lough Lurgeen, a lake inside the bog, 2 km from the turlough, is linked to the turlough via surface and underground streams.

Journeying still further eastward from Bweeownach towards Roscommon, and about three miles from the former, the wayfarer could not fail to notice, particularly if his journey were in the winter season, a fine lake situated to the south side of the road, and about a mile long by half a mile wide. If, at the time he was passing it, there happened to be a stiff south-westerly breeze blowing, the waters of the lake would compel him to notice it, for it abuts on the road, and the spray, cast by the wind in pail-fulls across his path, will oblige him, if he wishes to preserve a dry skin, to put up his gingham or wrap his water-proof more closely around him. And, at least in times past, he might be put to still greater inconvenience. For, if his passing were after an exceptionally heavy rainfall, the road would be covered to the depth of several feet with water, and he would be obliged, for safety as well as for convenience, to abandon the highway and make his way as best he could by a temporary passage opened through the fields on the opposite side of the lake. This inconvenience and possible danger are now obviated by the raising of the roadway and the erection of a strong concrete wall between it and the lake.


Returning again in the summer-time, by the same route the traveller would look in vain for the lake which pleased or inconvenienced him. To parody the poet’s line – Its site “was still there, but the waters were gone”. Gone, he knew not whither nor how. For, though there are many obvious inlets, there is no visible outlet, and he would have to be informed that the waters had disappeared through an orifice, hidden under liquid mud, in a recess or valley at the western end of the lake, and, after flowing a considerable distance through a subterranean passage, they reappeared three miles away and served to work a corn mill and to turn a lathe which an enterprising mechanic had set up to assist him in his craft as car and cartwright.

A Haul Of Fish

Had our wayfarer being in the “nick of time” – that is, if he had passed about twenty-four hours or so before the waters finally disappeared – he would have witnessed a scene far more exciting, if not nearly so awe inspiring, as that which took place on the shores of Genesareth over eighteen hundred years ago. He would have seen hundreds of persons of both sexes and all ages gathered round the pool of liquid mud, shouting, laughing, and cheering, while a score or more of boys and men were immersed to the armpits and deeper, in the pool, and provided with gaffs, landing nets, sand-screens, perforated buckets and other contrivances for catching the shoal of fish with which the pools seemed alive. These fish were bred in the beds of the streams which fed the lake, and matured in its waters, and have now been driven to their last resort – a vain effort to accompany the element which nurtured and sheltered them. He will be equally surprised to find that the whole area for some hundreds of acres which had been occupied by the waters of the lake, covered to a depth of several inches with slime and black mud. This mud had been carried down during the rainy season in large quantities by the streams which fed the lake, and which had their rise in the vast tracts of bog lying eastward. I have no doubt that it was this large black plain, with the valley at the western end, that gave its name to the adjacent village of Glenamaddy.

A Magical Lake by Very Rev, Walter Conway P.P. (*1896-✝1919), Glenamaddy, in: Historical Notes on the Parish of Glenamaddy