Turlough (lake)

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A turlough, or turlach, is a type of disappearing lake found mostly in limestone areas of Ireland, west of the River Shannon. The name comes from the Irish tur, meaning "dry", with the suffix -lach, meaning "a place" (in an abstract sense). The -lach suffix is often mistakenly spelled and/or thought to refer to the word loch, the Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Scots word for "lake". The landforms are found in Irish karst (exposed limestone) areas.

The features are almost unique to Ireland, although there is one example in Great Britain, Pant-y-Llyn at Cernydd Carmel near Llandeilo.[1][2][3] They are of great interest to many scientists: geomorphologists are interested in how turloughs were formed, hydrologists try to explain what makes turloughs flood, botanists study the unusual vegetation which covers the turlough floor, and zoologists study the animals associated with the turloughs.

The turlough at Carran, Co. Clare, Ireland. The water level is high following a spell of wet weather. (Late May, 2005)


Pant y Llyn turlough, South Wales

Turloughs are mostly found on the central lowlands west of the Shannon, in counties Galway, Clare, Mayo, and Roscommon, although a few are also found elsewhere, e.g. in Limerick, Sligo, Longford, and Cork.

Only three turloughs have been identified in Northern Ireland, namely Roosky, Green, and Fardrum Loughs located near Ely Lodge Forest in County Fermanagh.[4] These constitute the most northerly turloughs in Ireland and have been collectively designated a Ramsar site[5] and an Area of Special Scientific Interest.[6] There is one turlough in South Wales, Pant y Llyn.

Rahasane turlough in County Galway is the largest surviving turlough in Ireland and is an important location for migrating and overwintering birds.[7] It is noted for its greater white-fronted geese, whooper swans, wigeon, teal, and many waders in winter.[8]

See also[edit]

  • Karst – Topography from dissolved soluble rocks
  • Subterranean river – A river that runs wholly or partly beneath the ground surface


  1. ^ Blackstock, T. H.; Duigan, C. A.; Stevens, D. P.; Yeo, M. J. M. (September 1993). "Case studies and reviews. Vegetation zonation and invertebrate fauna in Pant-y-llyn, an unusual seasonal lake in South Wales, UK". Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 3 (3): 253–268. doi:10.1002/aqc.3270030309.
  2. ^ Joint Nature Conservation committee. "SAC Selection Turloughs". www.jncc.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
  3. ^ "3180 Turloughs : Habitat account - Freshwater habitats". jncc.defra.gov.uk. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  4. ^ Kelly, J. G.; Enlander, I.; Kelly, A. M.; Fogg, T. (2002). "The geological setting, hydrology and ecology of Roosky Turlough, Ely, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland". Cave and Karst Science. 29 (3).
  5. ^ "Fardrum and Roosky Turloughs". ni-environment.gov.uk. Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Archived from the original on 22 June 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Fardrum and Roosky Turloughs ASSI". ni-environment.gov.uk. Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Site Name: Rahasane Turlough SAC" (PDF). SITE SYNOPSIS. Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. pp. 1-3 [3180] Turloughs*.
  8. ^ "Rahasane turlough". datazone.birdlife.org. BirdLife International. Retrieved 15 June 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kilroy, Garrett, Catherine Coxon, Donal Daly, Áine O'Connor, Fiona Dunne, Paul Johnston, Jim Ryan, Henning Moe, and Matthew Craig. (2009) "Chapter 5.4 : Monitoring the Environmental Supporting Conditions of Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems in Ireland", in Quevauviller, Philippe, Case Studies for Groundwater Assessment and Monitoring in the Light of EU Legislation, pp245-258. Chichester, UK : John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi:10.1002/9780470749685.ch16, 9780470749685, 9780470778098, OCLC 552775381.
  • Moran, James, Michael Gormally, and Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. "Turlough ground beetle communities: the influence of hydrology and grazing in a complex ecological matrix". Journal of Insect Conservation : An International Journal Devoted to the Conservation of Insects and Related Invertebrates. 16 (1): 2012:51-69. doi:10.1007/s10841-011-9393-8, ISSN 1366-638X, OCLC 5659508429.
  • National Parks and Wildlife Service (c. 1980) Wetlands Discovered. (Duchas, National Parks and Wildlife Service)
  • O'Gorman, Fergus (ed) ; Gerrit van Gelderen, Eamon de Buitlear and Richard Mills (ill.) (1979) The Irish Wildlife Book, Irish Wildlife Publications, Dublin. (pages 58–60). ASIN B001F6YLO4, John Coughlan (pub.), revised edition (January 1, 1980).

External links[edit]