River Lagan (from Irish Abhainn an Lagáin, meaning 'river of the
Ulster Scots: Lagan Wattèr) is a major river
Northern Ireland which runs 53.5 miles (86 km) from the
Slieve Croob mountain in
County Down to
Belfast where it enters
Belfast Lough, an inlet of the Irish Sea. The
River Lagan forms much
of the border between
County Antrim and
County Down in the east of
Ulster. It rises as a tiny, fast-moving stream near to the summit of
Slieve Croob; Transmitter Road runs nearby. From here it continues on
its journey to
Belfast through Dromara,
Donaghcloney and Dromore. On
the lower slopes of the mountain, it is joined by another branch from
Legananny (Cratlieve) Mountain, just opposite Slieve Croob. At
Dromara, about four miles from its source, its height above the sea is
390 ft (119m). As the river continues on its journey to Belfast,
it turns east to
Magheralin into a broad plain between the plateaus of
Antrim and Down.
The river drains approximately 609 square km of agricultural land and
flows over 70 km from the Mourne Mountains to the Stranmillis
Weir, from which point on it is estuarine. The catchment consists
mainly of enriched agricultural grassland in the upper parts, with a
lower section draining urban
Belfast and Lisburn. There is one
significant tributary, the Ravernet River, and there are several minor
tributaries, including the Carryduff River, the
River Farset and the
Blackstaff River. Water quality is generally fair, though there are
localised problems and occasional pollution incidents, mainly due to
effluent from farms. Work is proceeding to restore a self-sustaining
Atlantic salmon to the river.
2 The Lagan in Belfast
2.1 Laganside Corporation
2.2 Lagan Weir
3 The Lagan in Lisburn
4 The Lagan Navigation
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Ptolemy's Geography (2nd century AD) described a river called
Λογια (Logia). The river name is thought to connect with Old
Irish loeg ("calf") and with *laks ("salmon").
The Lagan in Belfast
River Lagan and Lanyon Place, Belfast, October 2009
Lagan Weir, Belfast, October 2009
Belfast originates from the Irish Béal Feirste, or the mouth
of the Farset, the river on which the city was built and which flows
into the Lagan. The Farset has been superseded by the
River Lagan as
the most important river. The Farset languishes in obscurity, covered
over by the city's High Street.
In 1989 the
Laganside Corporation was established by the British
government to redevelop the areas surrounding the Lagan in Belfast.
Major developments of the
Laganside Corporation along the river
include the regeneration of the city's former Gasworks, the Odyssey
entertainment and leisure development, and the Lanyon Place
development, which includes the Waterfront Hall, in many ways the
flagship of the corporation.
One of the earliest and most important undertakings of the Corporation
was the Lagan Weir. Completed in 1994 at a cost of £14m, the weir
controls the level of water upstream. One of the main functions of the
weir was to reduce unsightly mud flats at low tide. This was mostly
successful, but mud flats are still evident on the river. The weir is
a series of massive steel barriers which are raised as the tide
retreats so as to keep the river at an artificially constant level.
This, improvements to the sewerage system, and massive dredging of the
river by mechanical excavators, has led to a marked improvement in
water quality and the environment around the river. Lagan Weir,
dredging and aeration have increased water quality in the river, and
salmon are returning. An otter and seals have followed the fish that
now move up river to spawn in what was once an aquatic death trap.
The river is used by a number of rowing clubs, including Queen's
University Boat Club, Queen's Ladies Boat Club, Methodist College Boat
Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) Rowing Club, Belfast
Rowing Club (BRC) and Lagan Scullers Club (). The Boathouses are
all based between the Governors Bridge and the Stranmillis Weir.
In September 2010, dredging commenced on the river Lagan. The
operation was expected to last until spring 2011.
The Lagan in Lisburn
In a similar way to the regeneration of
Council has embarked on a series of developments around the River
Lagan. The centre-piece of this strategy has been the Lagan Valley
Island complex; a new headquarters for the council and an Arts Centre,
wedding and conference facilities and a restaurant. Opened in 2001 the
building is surrounded by the Lagan on one side and a channel linked
to the river on the other.
The Lagan Navigation
The old Lagan Navigational Canal (disused) at Broadwater, near
Aghalee. (The disused canal is not now part of River Lagan, part of
The Lagan River was a part of this canal, giving the old canal its
In the late 19th century the Lagan Navigation was built from Lough
Neagh to Belfast, using some of the river as a navigable waterway and
diverting water from other areas to supply separate canal sections.
However, by the mid-20th century the route had fallen into disuse and
was largely derelict. The
M1 motorway (Northern Ireland)
M1 motorway (Northern Ireland) was built
across the route. Currently, the section of the navigation's towpath
Lisburn to almost the centre of
Belfast has been
The Lagan at Drumbeg
Atlantic salmon became extirpated in the River Lagan, which enters the
Irish Sea through the port of Belfast, between 1750 and 1800,
coinciding with a period of major population growth, industrialisation
and the construction of a navigable waterway based on the river. The
latest record of a salmon population in the river dates from 1744.
From 1950 to 1990, water quality in the river improved as a result of
improved sewage treatment, the Lagan Navigation was abandoned and fell
into disuse, and many industrial effluents were diverted to sewer. A
fish survey in the early 1970s found no fish at all in the urban reach
of river through Belfast.
Brown trout and several other species
remained present in the upper reaches of the river throughout the
worst of the downstream urban problems. The 1980s saw some
recreational angling for non-migratory fish developing in the Belfast
reaches of the river, and there were very occasional reports of
migratory salmon or sea trout being seen in the river. In 1991, the
first of a series of stockings took place and the first adult salmon
returned to the Lagan in 1993.
Plants such as
Elodea and others have been recorded from the Lagan.
The river also hosts a population otters and a variety of wildfowl. A
breeding population of yellow bellied slider turtles also live in the
river, thought to be abandoned pets. A seal locally known as Sammy the
Seal may often be seen swimming up the river as far upstream as
List of rivers of Northern Ireland
^ "Guide to Moira Station – Department of the Environment" (PDF).
Doeni.gov.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2013.
^ Ordnance Survey of Ireland: Rivers and their Catchment Basins 1958
(Table of Reference)
^ "River Lagan". Banbridge District Council. Archived from the
original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
River Lagan Impoundment". Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.
Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 28 February
^ a b c "Restoration of a self-sustaining
Atlantic salmon population
to the river Lagan, Belfast, Northern Ireland". Central Fisheries
Board. Retrieved 28 February 2009.
^ "17 September 2010 - River lagan to be dredged for first time since
1994 - Attwood
Northern Ireland Executive". Northernireland.gov.uk.
2010-09-17. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved
^ Hackney, P. (Ed) 1993. Stewart and Corry's Flora of the North-east
of Ireland. Institute of Irish Studies and The Queen's University of
Belfast. ISBN 0-85389-446-9 (HB)
Simon, B. 2011. By the Banks of the Lagan
Belfast to Drum Bridge.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to River Lagan.
River Lagan Wildlife
River Lagan Tidal Navigation and General Bye-laws (Northern
The Lagan Navigation at Inland Waterways of Ireland site
Rivers of Ireland
Flowing to the Irish Sea
Flowing to the Celtic Sea
The Three Sisters
Flowing to the Atlantic
Tributaries of the Shannon
River names in italics indicate rivers which are partially or wholly
in Northern Ireland, with the rest being wholly in the R