Lough Derg (Ulster)

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Lough Derg
Loch Dearg
Purgatory at Lough Derg - geograph.org.uk - 449867.jpg
Station Island
Location County Donegal, Ireland
Coordinates 54°36′50″N 7°52′20″W / 54.61389°N 7.87222°W / 54.61389; -7.87222Coordinates: 54°36′50″N 7°52′20″W / 54.61389°N 7.87222°W / 54.61389; -7.87222
Basin countries Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland
Surface area 890 hectares (2,200 acres)

Lough Derg or Loch Derg (Irish: Loch Dearg)[1] is a lake in County Donegal, Republic of Ireland. It is near the border with Northern Ireland and lies about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) north of the border village of Pettigo. It is best known for St Patrick's Purgatory, a site of pilgrimage on Station Island in the lake.

The lake is about 890 hectares (2,200 acres) in size, but is quite shallow, making it dangerous during bad weather.[2] It has stocks of pike, perch and brown trout for angling.

Annual Pilgrimage[edit]

Pilgrims at Lough Derg

The traditional three-day pilgrimage follows a one-thousand-year-old pattern. It begins on Friday, during which participants may only have one meal. On arrival on the island, participants remove footwear and socks before commencing vocal prayers, walking around the island. A 24-hour night vigil then takes place. Generally, pilgrims depart on Sunday and complete their fast at midnight on Monday morning[3] Organisers prohibit children under fifteen years from participating in the fast.


Saint Patrick's Purgatory in a map of 1666

Including Station Island, there are about 30 islands and islets in Lough Derg, including:[4]

  • Allingham's Island
  • Ash Island
  • Boat Island
  • Bull's Island
  • Derg Beg Island
  • Derg More Island
  • Friar's Island
  • Goose Lodge
  • Gravelands Islands
  • Illan Philipboy
  • Inishgoosk
  • Kelly's Isles
  • Long Island
  • Saints Island (on which there is a graveyard and the buried ruins of a monastery)
  • Trough Island

See also[edit]