Lough Eske

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Lough Eske
Loch Iasc
Lough Eske.PNG
Location County Donegal
Coordinates 54°41′59″N 8°02′24″W / 54.6996°N 8.0399°W / 54.6996; -8.0399Coordinates: 54°41′59″N 8°02′24″W / 54.6996°N 8.0399°W / 54.6996; -8.0399
Primary inflows Clashalbin River, Lowerymore River, Corabber River, Clady River
Primary outflows River Eske
Basin countries Ireland
Max. length maximum of 3.7 km
Max. width maximum of 2 km
Surface area 900 acres (3.6 km2)
Surface elevation 27 m
Islands Pigeon's Island, Grania's Island, O'Donnell's Island, Roshin Island
Settlements Donegal (nearest town)

Lough Eske or Lough Eask (from Irish Loch Iascaigh or Loch Iasc, meaning "Lake of the Fish") is a small lake in County Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. The lake lies to the northeast of Donegal Town, to which it is connected by the River Eske. The lake is about 900 acres (3.6 km2) in size and is surrounded to the north, east and west by the Bluestack Mountains, which occupy most of Central and Eastern County Donegal.[1]


The surrounding hills of Lough Eske

The lake and its tributaries are popular for fishing, especially for spring salmon, sea trout and char, with the season running from 1 March to 30 September.

Because of its scenic and unspoiled surroundings, the lake is a popular getaway destination, with two major hotels on its shores.

The area also has many forest paths: unassigned paths on the south-western shores of the lake and there are also newly reconstructed paths in Ardnamona wood.

Local population[edit]

According to the 2006 census results, there are 119 people living in the 'Lough Eask Rural Area', down 16 (11.9%) from 2002.[2]


Following the burning of the Franciscan Friary in Donegal Town in September 1601, the friars were forced to flee into the surrounding countryside. They set up a new friary on the western shores of Lough Eske, giving the name of 'The Friary' to the local townland in the district of Killymard, and the 'Friar's Walk' along the shore of the lake. The friars remained in the vicinity of the lake for most of the following century but a Royal Proclamation in August 1687, ordering all Catholic clergy to leave Ireland within nine months, dealt the final blow to the Order in the Donegal area. Since they were brought to Donegal Town in the sixteenth century, the friars had had to abandon their convent on several occasions and it was frequently attacked and damaged, unsurprising given the political instability between the English and Gaelic Irish Lords at the time. About the time of the Royal Proclamation, it's believed the Friars were based around the lake once more, close to Barnesmore on the east shore, near Roshin Island in the southeast corner of the lake, which is believed to have been used as a graveyard by the friars. There is still evidence of graves on the island to this day.[3]

A view of Lough Eske.

Following the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the Plantation of Ulster saw this area of Donegal granted to Sir Basil Brooke, who rebuilt and extended Donegal Castle. About this time a manor was also constructed on the shores of Lough Eske by Scottish settlers, a cornerstone at the manor was later noted to have been inscribed with the date 1621. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Brooke family estates were passed to Thomas Young (who changed his name to Thomas Brooke) of Lough Eske Manor, through marriage with the heiress to the estate, Jane Grove. Thomas first built a new Church of Ireland called Christ Church on the southern shore of the Lake in 1846, before hiring the Derry architect Fitzgibbon Louch to completely redesign the existing manor house; the result was a grand Elizabethan-style residence finished in 1868 which became known as Lough Eske Castle. The castle was sold at the end of the century and later became a guest house; by the mid-twentieth century it was in a state of ruin, but was reopened as the Solis Lough Eske Hotel in December 2007. Meanwhile, the Church constructed in 1846 is still used as the parish church.[4]

A 'Famine Pot' from a local workhouse that was used during the Great Famine is now located on the shores of the lake as a testament to all locals who lost their lives or were forced to emigrate in the mid-1840s and 1850s.

The 'Lough Eske Monster'[edit]

In July 1998, the national daily, The Irish Daily Star, published a story entitled ‘Look out, it’s Eskie’, which made claims of a ‘monster’ sighting in the lake. Staff and residents at Harvey’s Point told the reporter that at 2.30pm on Sunday 28 June 1998 saw an unidentified object moving about 300 m of the shore. Other locals interviewed, such as bed and breakfast owners Annabel and Kieran Clarke, repeated some of the local folklore when they told the paper that ‘some lakes in Donegal are said to be connected by current to Scotland’, trying to make a link with the much more famous Loch Ness Monster. Some people suggested that the Lough Eske Monster was a publicity stunt by the chairman of the local Donegal Summer Festival committee, Zack Gallagher. He, however, has always denied this and has gone on record as believing in the existence of such a beast. The idea of a monster in Lough Eske was not raised after this and some commentators have suggested that it may have been a lost seal that swam the short distant up the River Eske from Donegal Bay.[5]

Lough Eske from Harvey's Point

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inland Fisheries Ireland
  2. ^ Donegal Democrat, 27 June 2006
  3. ^ Malachy Sweeney; The Sands Of Time, A History of Donegal Town and its Environs
  4. ^ Malachy Sweeney; The Sands Of Time, A History of Donegal Town and its Environs
  5. ^ Extracts of original Irish Star story and comment on the suggestion