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Gaelic: Baile Locha Riach
County Galway
Loughrea 2.jpg
Grid reference: M621163
Location: 53°11’49"N, 8°34’1"W
Population: 5,057  (2011[1])
Post town: Loughrea
Postcode: H62
Local Government
Website: http://www.discoverloughrea.com

Loughrea is a town in County Galway. It lies to the north of a range of wooded hills, the Slieve Aughty Mountains, and the lake from which it takes its name. The town is also famous for its cathedral which dominates the town's skyline. The town has expanded in size significantly in recent years as it increasingly becomes a commuter town for the city of Galway.[2]


The town takes its name from Loch Riach (Irish for "the grey lake") on which it lies. It is also suggested that the town's name derives from Loch Riabhach (meaning "speckled lake"). This alternative Irish name is used in the name of the local Irish-language multi-faith primary school: Gaelscoil Riabhach.[3] The town is located within an area that was historically called Trícha Máenmaige.


Loughrea was traditionally a farming town that cut its industrial teeth with the Tynagh mines, four miles to the east. There is now a gas-powered electricity power station on the site of the mines. As well as being a dormitory town for Galway, Loughrea now hosts a number of pharmaceutical and data-processing industries. Loughrea's tourist infrastructure is supported by several hotels, a country resort, as well as many bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, coffee-shops and pubs.

Places of interest

The Cathedral of St Brendan on the lakeshore, in the town centre, is considered an important repository of Celtic-revival art and architecture in Ireland.[4] St Brendan's Catholic Cathedral was designed by William Byrne in 1897 and completed five years later. Its double transepts are an unusual architectural feature. It contains some very fine internal decoration. Spring-fed, Loughrea Lake overlooked by Knockash is popular for trout, pike and perch fishing.[5] The lake is home to many waterbirds. Migratory species from Europe live at the lake during the winters, and it provides nesting grounds for other species during the summer. The lake is listed as a site of international importance for the shoveller and a site of national importance for the coot and tufted duck.[6] In addition it is frequently used for water sports and swimming. Immediately behind the Loughrea boathouse are the remains of an old crannog. The Loughrea dwellers of another time would have sought protection from raiders by living in the comparative security provided by the lake.


Loughrea is connected to the M6 Dublin-Galway motorway via the N65. The town was historically served by the Midland Great Western Railway and a railway branch from Attymon Junction, in use until 1975. This line was Ireland's last operational rural railway branch line, having outlasted most other country railway lines of this type by 10–20 years, and even surviving to have diesel trains used on it. The link road from the Ballinasloe - Galway motorway to Loughrea removed most of the remains of the original track bed. Loughrea railway station opened on 1 December 1890 and finally closed on 3 November 1975.[7]

Sport and culture

Loughrea Lake

Loughrea GAA Club were Galway Senior Hurling Championship and 2006 Connacht Hurling champions. They also reached the 2007 All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship final, but lost out to Ballyhale Shamrocks. Loughrea has a Rugby Club, a Soccer Club, a Gaelic Football Club, an 18-hole golf course, a Cycling Club and an Athletic Club. Loughrea cricket club is currently one of the leading clubs in Connacht and is captained by local man Matthew Kearns. Actor Kiefer Sutherland has an affection for the town, twice visiting family as a young boy and is said to have been amazed at the skill of the players down at the handball alley.

Each year, in October, the town plays host to the BAFFLE International Poetry Festival (www.bafflepoetry.org). Loughrea also boasts a Musical and Dramatic Society, Historical society, and an active community association. In the 2006 National Glór na nGael awards for "Irish language in local communities", Loughrea's "Glór committee" was awarded first prize. The town is home to the nightclub Ringo's where famous producer DJ Alligator once performed. Glór has an umbrella committee which involves local organisations in the promotion of Irish. A local group, Gaeilge Locha Riach, promotes the Irish language in Loughrea among the community and businesses.[8] There is also a large, vibrant Foróige Youth club in the town.

Loughrea Main Street.
The old and new priories in Loughrea.

Annalistic references

  • 797(802). The demolition of Loch Riach by Muirghius, son of Tomaltach.
  • 821. Fearghal, son of Catharnach, lord of Loch Riach, died.
  • 823. Fearghal, son of Cathasach, lord of Loch Riach, died.
  • 881. Cormac, son of Ceithearnach, Prior of Tir Da Ghlas and Cluain Fearta Brenainn, and the second lord who was over Loch Riach at that time, died.
  • 1408. O'h-Echeidhein was slain by the O'Dalys on the plain of Moinmoy.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Loughrea)