River Bann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the river in County Wexford, see River Bann (Wexford).

The River Bann (Irish: an Bhanna, likely from an bhan-abha, meaning "the white river"[1]) is the longest river in Ulster, its length, Upper and Lower Bann combined, being 129 km (80ml). However, the total length of the River Bann, including its path through the 30 km (19ml) long Lough Neagh is 159 km (99ml). Another length of the River Bann given is 90ml.[2] The river winds its way from the southeast corner of Northern Ireland[3] to the northwest coast,[4] pausing in the middle to widen into the enormous Lough Neagh. The River Bann catchment has an area of 5,775 km2.[5] The River Bann has a mean discharge rate of 92 m3/s.[6] According to C.Michael Hogan, the Bann River Valley is a settlement area for some of the first human arrivals in Ireland after the most recent glacial retreat.[7] The river has played an important part in the industrialisation of the north of Ireland, especially in the linen industry. Today salmon and eel fisheries are the most important economic features of the river. The river is often used as a dividing line between the eastern and western areas of Northern Ireland, often labelled the "Bann divide".[citation needed] Towns, councils and businesses "west of the Bann" are often seen as having less investment and government spending than those to the east.[8] It is also seen as a religious, economic and political divide, with Catholics and Irish nationalists being in the majority to the west, and Ulster Protestants and unionists in the majority to the east; and with the financial and industrial capital of Greater Belfast to the east with the west of the Bann being more agricultural and rural.[9][10]

The Lough Neagh catchment drains 43%[11] of the land mass of Northern Ireland, as well as some border areas in the Republic of Ireland, all in Ulster. The Rivers Agency manages the water level in the lough using a barrage at Toome. The current drainage scheme was engineered by Major Percy Shepherd and was enabled by the Lough Neagh and Lower Bann Drainage and Navigation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955.[12] The levels are regulated between 12.45 metres to 12.6 metres above Ordnance Datum, as defined in the Lough Neagh (Levels) Scheme 1955 (as amended).[13]

Upper Bann[edit]

The Upper Bann rises in the Mourne Mountains in County Down and flows 64.4 km (40ml)[14] into Lough Neagh at Bannfoot, County Armagh. This stretch is one of the most popular coarse fishing rivers in Europe. Near Portadown it connects with the now disused Newry Canal, which once gave access south to the Irish Sea.

Lower Bann[edit]

Overlooking the River Bann at Coleraine and the Riverside Retail Park on the eastern banks of the river

The Lower Bann flows from Lough Neagh at Toome to the Atlantic Ocean at Portstewart. The river is 64.4 km (40ml)[15] long and is a canalised waterway with five navigation locks at Toome, Portna, Movanagher, Carnroe and Castleroe. The river is very popular with water sports enthusiasts, anglers and cruisers and has minimal commercial traffic. It acts as most of the border between County Antrim and County Londonderry. The only commercial port on the river is at Coleraine. Ships from Londonderry Port and the Port of Belfast transfer coal and scrap metal.

The water level on the Lower Bann is controlled by Rivers Agency using gates situated at Portna (near Kilrea) and The Cutts at Coleraine.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  2. ^ Notes on River Basins: Page 69
  3. ^ 54°10′01″N 6°04′59″W / 54.167°N 6.083°W / 54.167; -6.083
  4. ^ 55°09′47″N 6°46′05″W / 55.163°N 6.768°W / 55.163; -6.768
  6. ^ Riverine Inputs and Direct Discharges to Convention Waters Annex V Statistical information on river catchment areas P. 76 (Convert 1,000m³/d into m³/s)[2]
  7. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Celtic Sea. eds. P.Saundry & C.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC.
  8. ^ BBC News
  9. ^ Register Of Research On Northern Ireland 1993 Edition, CAIN web service
  10. ^ Strabane Chronicle
  11. ^ "Rivers Agency Website". Lough Neaghwater level maintenance. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  12. ^ "legislation.gov.uk". Lough Neagh and Lower Bann Drainage and Navigation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  13. ^ "legislation.gov.uk". Lough Neagh (Levels) Scheme (Confirmation) Order(Northern Ireland) 2004. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  14. ^ Banbridge Council
  15. ^ Banbridge Council
  16. ^ "Rivers Agency Website". Lough Neaghwater level maintenance. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 

External links[edit]