Lough MacNean
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Lough MacNean

Also known as: Upper Lough MacNean, Lower Lough MacNean

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Map: 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.

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Lough MacNean


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

Fish Species

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