Lough Na Fooey, Galway’s Glacial Gem

Sep 14, 2014 by

Lough Na Fooey is a beautiful glacial lake that lies along the border between Galway and Mayo in Ireland.

Known as Loch na Fuaiche in Irish Gaelic, this small lough is set between the rugged Galway Mountains to the south and Mayo’s Partry Mountains ( Sliabh Phartraí ) to the north.

 

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Western end of Lough Na Fooey, with the Partry Mountains on the right and the Galway Mountains on the left.

The lough is in the heart of Joyce Country (Dúiche Sheoighe), a region of Galway and Mayo that takes its name from a Welsh family who settled in the region during the 13th century. We discovered this pristine lough when we drove to Finny from Westport in Mayo to see a sheep herding demonstration at Joyce Country Sheepdogs, which lies right beside Lough Na Fooey.

 

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The donkeys of Joyce Country Sheepdogs graze on hillside overlooking Lough Na Fooey

Lough Na Fooey is fed by numerous mountain streams, as well as the River Fooey, Abhainn na Fuaiche.  Not nearly as large as nearby Lough Mask, Lough Na Fooey is just half a mile wide and about 2.5 miles long. It has a soft, sandy beach on the western end which is ideal for a family picnic, boating or fishing for trout and pike in the cold waters.

 

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Sunlight falls through the clouds near the sandy beach of Lough NaFooey.

The Joyce Country area was hit hard by the Great Famine (an Gorta Mór), and you’ll see several abandoned stone cottages near Lough Na Fooey. The harsh terrain of the mountains made travel difficult in the mid 1800s, but those who could leave probably tried to do so, to save themselves and their families. I can only hope that some lived and simply decided to make do in another part of Ireland rather than return to their farms at Lough Na Fooey.

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Abandoned farmstead on the banks of Lough Na Fooey, County Galway, Ireland.

If you plan to travel through Mayo and Galway, making a stop along Lough Na Fooey is well worth the slight detour off the main road. Have a picnic on the beach or hike up one of the surrounding mountains for a better view of this remote, beautiful area of Ireland.

 

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The blue waters of Lough Na Fooey, a glacial gem in the Joyce Country of Ireland.

 

Just remember to slow down and watch for the many Scottish Blackface sheep (a tough breed ideal for hilly areas) inhabiting the nearby farms–they tend to pop up quite unexpectedly!

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Scottish Blackface sheep guarding the mountains around Lough Na Fooey.

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