(Baile Locha Riach
) is a town in County Galway
. The town has a range of wooded hills, the Sliabh Aughty
, along its southern boundary.
The population of the town and its immediate hinterland is in the region of 4500, and is undergoing a period of expansion, as it increasingly becomes a commuter town for the city of Galway.
The town takes its name from Loch Riach
for "the grey lake") on which it lies. It is also suggested that the lake's name derives from Loch Riabhach
- meaning "speckled lake". (The term 'riabhach/speckled' is used as the name for the local Irish-language multi-faith primary school: Gaelscoil Riabhach.)
Loughrea was traditionally a farming town that cut its industrial teeth with Tynagh Mines
, 6 km to the east. Tynagh
was for 15 years (1960-1975) the most important zinc
and silver mine
in Ireland. As well as being a dormer town for Galway, Loughrea now hosts a number of pharmaceutical and data-processing industries. Tourism and small cottage industries also play an important role in the community. Loughrea's tourist infrastructure is supported by several hotels, a country-resort, as well as many bed and breakfasts, restaurants, coffee-shops and pubs.
Places of interest
The Turoe stone
in nearby Bullaun
(8km north) is perhaps the most important Celtic
monument in the area and the Cathedral of St. Brendan
on the lakeshore, in the town centre, is considered an important repository of Celtic-revival art and architecture in Ireland. Spring-fed, Loughrea Lake
overlooked by Knockash
is popular for trout, pike and perch fishing. It is also an important bird sanctuary as well as being popular for water-sports and swimming. Immediately behind the Loughrea boathouse are the remains of an old crannog
. The Loughrea dwellers of another time would have sought protection from raiders by living in comparative security provided by the lake.
Loughrea was historically served by the Midland Great Western Railway
and a railway branch from Attymon Junction
, until 1975. This line was Ireland's last operational rural railway branch line, having outlasted most other country railway lines of this type by 10 - 20 years, and even surviving to have diesel trains used on it. The link road from the proposed Ballinasloe - Galway dual carriageway to Loughrea will remove most of the remains of the original trackbed. Loughrea railway station opened on 1 December 1890
and finally closed on 3 November 1975
Sport and culture
Loughrea GAA Club were 2006 Galway Hurling and 2006 Connacht Hurling champions. They also reached the 2007 All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship final, but lost out to Ballyhale Shamrocks. Loughrea has a Rugby club, Loughrea Rugby Club, an 18-hole golf course and an Athletic Club. Each year, In October, the town plays host to the BAFFLE International Poetry Slam. Loughrea also boasts a Musical and Dramatic Society, Historical society, and an active community association. In the 2006 National Glór na nGael awards for "Irish language in local communities", Loughrea's "Glór committee" was awarded first prize. Glór has an umbrella committee which involves local organisations in the promotion of Irish.
The town is the birthplace of Anthony Dominic Fahy
priest and head of the Irish community in Argentina
between 1844 to 1871.