River Swilly

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River Swilly
An tSúileach
River Swilly entering at Letterkenny
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationGlendore Mountain, County Donegal
 ⁃ elevation~15.2 m (50 ft)
 ⁃ location
Atlantic ocean at Lough Swilly
Length~41.8 km (26.0 miles)

The River Swilly (Irish: An tSúileach) is a river in Ireland, which flows in an eastern direction through Letterkenny, County Donegal. Letterkenny, the largest town in County Donegal, is built on the river and became the first crossing point on the river in the 17th century.


The river takes its name Súileach from a man-eating water monster that was chopped in half by Saint Columba, who was born in Gartan.[1] Letterkenny DJ and Producer Diarmuid O'Doherty produced a song, "A Monster in the River Swilly", about this legend.[2][3]


The River Swilly rises near Glendore, a mountain in County Donegal, and flows for around 41.8 km (26.0 mi) through Letterkenny before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean at Lough Swilly.

Navigation and use[edit]

The river is nearly 26 miles (42 km) long. A shipping industry once operated on the Swilly in Letterkenny. The river was extremely hard for larger ships to navigate, as it was narrow and has many bends near Letterkenny. The port was closed to commercial shipping in the 1960s and its warehouses were demolished in 2001. The coal yard still remains on the old site opposite the Mount Errigal Hotel. Newmills Corn and Flax Mills is powered by the waters of the river.


The Swilly traditionally produced approximately 300-400 salmon per year. The heaviest salmon recorded is of 24 lbs as well as a sea trout of 12 lbs.[4] The river is considered one of the best fishing rivers in the north west of Ireland.[citation needed]


The Swilly is spanned by numerous bridges mostly open to road traffic. In Letterkenny there are four bridges across the river:

Bridge Image
Oldtown Bridge Oldtown Bridge Letterkenny Donegal.jpg
Port Bridge Port Bridge Letterkenny.jpg
Rail Bridge LKBRIDGE.jpg
Devlin Way Devlin100.jpg

Devlin Way[edit]

Devlin Way at night

Devlin Way was the first pedestrian bridge built over the River Swilly. The bridge was installed on October 25, 2006 in Letterkenny. The bridge connects the suburban Oldtown area with the town centre. It was designed by TS McLaughlin Structural Engineers and the ironwork was constructed by Bonnar Engineering. The bridge cost €100,000 to construct. A maroon-coloured cambered steel structure which measures 28 metres long and 2.2 metres wide, the new bridge proves a major impact on the safety of pedestrians, especially OAPs and school-going children. It is lit by lamp cast from iron and it also contains a commemorative stone seat with a plaque. The bridge is neighbour to the much older and well known Oldtown Bridge.

The bridge was officially opened on November 14, 2006 by local councillor Ciaran Brogan. The bridge is named in honour of the Devlin family who live beside the bridge and sacrificed part of their land so that the bridge could be built.[5]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°58′N 7°41′W / 54.967°N 7.683°W / 54.967; -7.683