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A border collie chases the black-faced sheep across the hill while the water of Lough na Fooey sparkles behind him. The 633-acre lough (lake) provides the perfect backdrop as the dog hunkers down and drives the sheep up the green rolling hills in the west of Ireland. The scene is a picture perfect Irish postcard - "From Connemara with love. Wish you were here."
Nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains, Loch na Fooey is a natural glacial lake. It is two and a half miles long and about half a mile wide. In addition to several small streams, the River Fooey feeds the lough on the western shore; the Finny River makes up its primary outflow, emptying into 22,000-acre Lough Mask. The west end of Lough na Fooey has what may be Ireland's only freshwater beach. Red Island sits near the southeast shore of the lake.
Lough na Fooey, also known as Loch na Fuaiche, has hundreds of acres of water for boating, and some of the holiday cottages and self-catering vacation rentals that dot the shores of the lake have boats available. Anglers can challenge themselves against the wild brown trout and pike that fill the lake. The hills that have been used for centuries for sheep farming provide the perfect place to hike and explore the surrounding countryside. The area around Lough na Fooey is known as Joyce Country, named for a Welsh family that settled in the area in the beginning of the 14th century. There are still descendents of the Joyce family living around the lough, and Joyce Country has a well deserved reputation as a fantastic place for hill walking. A route extends around the lough with striking views of Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord, and Devil's Mother Mountain.
The villages of Finny and Leenaun are just a few miles from Lough na Fooey on the northern edge of Connemara. Leenaun or An Lionai is Irish for the "filling pool," aptly named considering all the water in the area. Visitors can stroll through the quaint village, pausing to stop in the shops or one of the neighborhood pubs. Lough na Fooey is in the County of Galway. On the west coast of Ireland, County Galway has a rich history and was inhabited as early as 5000 BC. The City of Galway is the county seat, and Galway Airport is only 30 miles from Lough na Fooey.
Lough na Fooey is nestled in the middle of rolling hillsides, tucked behind mountains, and criss-crossed with quiet, lonely roads. It is a great place to rest, rejuvenate and let the peace of the Irish countryside fill weary travelers. Its proximity to the City of Galway, however, makes it easily accessible for anyone who wants to enjoy the solitude of Joyce Country.
The rocky Irish coast combines with green rolling hills and the sparkling water of Lough na Fooey to make the quintessential Irish picture postcard. After just one visit "Wish You Were Here" turns into "When Can I Come Again."
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