Aerial photo of Lough Gowna - photo by Media Eagle
Lough Gowna (Irish: Loch Gamhna, meaning "calf lake") is a fresh water lake which is the uppermost lake on the River Erne. It is located on the border between County Longford and County Cavan, with the largest part of the lake being in County Longford.
The north-western and south-western portions of the lake are connected by a narrow channel at Dernaferst (a townland on the western Longford shore of the lake, but which is in County Cavan). The northern and eastern shores of the lake are surrounded by peat bog, with areas of planted woodland along the southern shores of the lake in former demesnes in the townlands of Derrycassan and Culray. The lake is considered to be an important site for wintering wildfowl.
The lake contains one large island in the south-western part, Inchmore (Inis Mór in Irish, meaning "Big island"), which was the site of a monastery founded in the sixth century by Saint Colmcille. The monastery was raided by the Vikings in 804, being burned and looted. During the twelfth century, the abbey conformed to Augustinian rules and remained there until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1543. The site was still used as a graveyard by the local population until the early years of the twentieth century. The remains of the abbey are still to be seen on the island. A fifteenth-century tower bell, reputedly from the monastery, was recovered in the nineteenth century and now hangs in the Roman Catholic church in the nearby village of Aughnacliffe.
Ruins of the sixth century abbey on Inchmore Island
Lough Gowna is an important centre for coarse fishing and the shape of the lake, with wooded peninsulas interspersed with bays and inlets, make it attractive for tourism. Most of the shore fishing is accessible from public access points and is generally on clean, fishable shores, but the main areas of the lake are best fished from a boat. Boats can be easily launched at Dernaferst, Lisanny, and Dring. It is also possible to launch boats at Cloone, Aghanoran, and Corfree.
Lough Gowna produces pike all year round, but the most productive periods tend to be early in the season from March to May, and toward the end of the year from September to November. However, fishing may be affected by water temperatures and weather conditions. There are picnic sites at Dernaferst and at Derrycassin Woods at Dring (at the southernmost point of the lake). Gowna is quite a shallow lake, with depths averaging between 2-8 metres. Greater depths up to 15 metres are to be found at the southern part of the lake near Dring.
Useful links: Ireland - Lough Gowna,The Story of Lough Gowna, Lough Gowna & The Winding Banks of the Erne , Inland Fisheries Ireland