Carlingford Lough


Sweep Down to the Sea

Both the Mountains of Mourne and the Cooley Penninsula sweep down to the sea inlet, Carlingford Lough.

The Shores of Warrenpoint, Rostrevor, Killowen, Cranfield and Greencastle are on the northern shores of Carlingford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The shores of Omeath, Carlingford and Greenore are on the Southern shores of Carlingford Lough in County Louth of the Republic of Ireland.

How it was Made

Carlingford Lough is a glacial fjord.

fjord is created by the massive movement of a glacier which carves into the earth as it slowly moves.

In the last ice age, all of this area of Warrenpoint and Co. Down was covered in ice. When the ice melted, water filled the hole the glacier carved and we have the Lough as we see it now.

The Vikings raided the shores of Carlingford plundering for food and riches. The name " Carlingford Lough" has it's routes in Scandinavia. We have a rich tapestry of history, legend and culture from the Neolithic ruins, The High King of Ireland's Coronation Stone to The Battles of Giants!
Carlingford Lough is a thriving natural reserve for many birds and marine life. We regularly have visits from dolphins, seals and birds looking for food or a place to bring their young into the world.
The Lough has been a naval waterway since the first humans inhabited the area. Trade, Famine, Battle and Tragedy have all taken place on the Lough and her surrounding shores! From the thwarted escape and tragedy of Medieval Lassara to the Holidaymaker arriving on Cruise Ships
CS Lewis was inspired by the Carlingford Lough area to write his epic tale The Chroniles of Narnia. Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor has a beautiful wood trail to mark the literary and fantastical connection. Lewis said 'That part of Rostrevor which overlooks Carlingford Lough is my idea of Narnia.'
Carlingford Lough is an thrill seekers paradise with leisure boating, water skiing, wind surfing and banana boat riding for those that love a bit of fun in the water. The cold water never seems to put off the kids jumping into the ater in summertime
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Life on The Lough

Carlingford Lough Lives and Legends

Carlingford Lough and Neolithic People

The Carlingford Lough area was a vibrant and important community in Ireland in Neolithic times – The Stone Age.

We know this because of the beautiful, mystical cairns, burial grounds and standing stones dotted all around the ancient lands of Carlingford Lough and Gullion.

Our Neolithic ancestors bequeathed to us their eternal relics of their customs, tradition and spirituality.

Ireland’s Ancient East settled, lived and died in this area 10,000 years ago long before our modern borders.

Video: Ballymacdermot Court Tomb 

Just look at the majestic Kilfeaghan overlooking Carlingford lough!

This place commemorated a person, clan or event of great importance.

Carlingford Lough was and is something special and has been for 1000’s of years!

Kilfeaghan Dolmen overlooking Carlingford Lough
Kilfeaghan Dolmen overlooking Carlingford Lough

Carlingford Lough and The Vikings

Vikings in Warrenpoint county Down visit warrenpoint

Carlingford Lough has a fascinating connection with the Vikings documented in the history books of ancient times.

The Lough may have been named by the Vikings ‘Kerlingfjǫrðr’ which translates the “narrow sea-inlet of the hag”.

When the Vikings first came to Ireland in the 700’s, they raided the coastal settlements and monasteries of Ireland. 

It is believed they got to this part of Ireland in and around 840 AD. (Around the same time as St Bronagh’s Christian Community in Kilbroney, Rostrevor)

Locally, they are known to have been frequent visitors (most likely unwelcomed!) to the monastery St Moninna’s (Killeavy Old Church) at Killeavy in County Armagh.

You can just imagine lookouts stationed at the Flagstaff (see it in our pic below), with a perfect view of the Lough raising the alarm as Viking raiding ships approached. 

Fascinately, Carlingford Lough may have been a battleground for dominance between the Scandinavian factions themselves.

Magnus Barelegs, King of the Vikings, had become King of Norway in 1098 and arrived in Ireland in 1102.

He was killed by the Ulaid in an ambush during a cattle raid and is buried in Downpatrick.

Christianity and Carlingford Lough

There is lots of evidence in our area of the clash of culture and spirituality between the old ways and the new.

Christianity spread throughout Ireland replacing or interweaving with the practices of the ancient civilisations led by Saint Patrick.

Rostrevor, on the shores of Carlingford Lough, has it’s very own saint – Saint Bronagh – who founded an early Irish Christian community here.

You can visit the Old Kilbroney Graveyard to see the 8th Century church and Celtic Cross.

The Normans

The Norsemen were firmly established in Ireland by the times the Normans landed.

The Normans called the inlet Carlingeford and is documented in Charters after the Norman conquest of Ireland in 1169.

Flagstaff View of Warrenpoint

Warrenpoint's Coronation Stone

There was King’s crowned in Warrenpoint on the shores of Carlingford Lough – read more here Warrenpoint’s Coronation Stone: Our path to the Ancient God of Love

Carlingford Lough: Trading Places

Carlingford Lough historically has been a trade channel for ships carrying goods in and out of Ireland.

The Lough has been a waterway for traders, invaders, friend and foe ( it was prudent to protect yourself – Look at Narrow Water Keep) since the first humans inhabited the area.

The Newry Canal was built in 1769 to transport goods shipped in and out of Ireland via Carlingford Lough.

The Clanrye River which flows alongside the Canal through the City of Newry reaches it’s final destination of Carlingford Lough.

The Windmill in Warrenpoint was a centre of trade and commerce to the town of Warrenpoint and surrounding areas.

Pigit’s Dictionary of 1824 mentions the Windmill.

One can well imagine that it’s sentinel , the old windmill, was a heart gladdening sight to the sailor home from sea

Scenes of Sunrise Storm Calm Beauty

A beautiful January morning on Carlingford Lough! The Mountains of Mourne by Percy French is not about Newcastle at all - click here to find out more

Posted by What's The Point? on Thursday, January 23, 2020

Carlingford Lough: A Maritime Tragedy

The SS Connemara and the Retriever Collision

In 1916, there was a tragic shipping accident on Carlingford Lough causing the loss of 94 lives including that of James Curran.

The SS Connemara and the Retriever collided with each other on 3 November 1916 due to horrendous weather conditions on Carlingford Lough.

The master of Haulbowline Lighthouse could see that the ships were sailing towards each other and fired off a warning rocket but to no avail. (See the Haulbowline Lighthouse lit up in blue below)

James Boyle, aged 21, was the sole survivor.

James Curran who perished had a startling dream the night before the sailing of a shipping disaster.

He went ahead on his journey despite the dream.

He had only that day sewn a new button on his shirt.

His body was identified due to the newly sewn button.

James is buried in Kilbroney Graveyard, Rostrevor

Video: The 100 year Anniversary Commemoration of the Collision


The commemoration of the centenary of the Connemara Retriever disaster yesterday - the ships collided and sank on Carlingford Lough on the 3 November 1916!

Posted by What's The Point? on Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wrecks on The Lough

Carlingford Lough Wrecks

The James Postlethwaithe was a schooner that sank on Carlingford Lough  on 11 May 1929 but the wreck was successfully salvaged by the Carlingford Lough Commissioner’s Tug Slieve Foy.

The James Postlethwaithe schooner went onto to star in Gregory Peck’s 1956 Moby Dick described as “one of the great motion pictures of our time”.

James Postlethwaithe found it’s way from the Carlingford Lough bed to fame in Hollywood, starring as Devil Dam in the hit film.

There is a fascinating online database mapping out all of the wrecks on the coast of Ireland click here for nore > The National Monument Service – Wreck Viewer 

Carlingford Lough and The Famine

Carlingford Lough and The Famine

Thousands of people emigrated from Warrenpoint dock during the Great Famine or Gorta Mor in Irish – The Great Hunger.

One of the ships that set sail from Warrenpoint tragic fate on her journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Hannah set sail from Warrenpoint on 3 April 1849 but did not reach her destination sinking as a result of bad weather and hitting ice.

49 people lost their lives.


City of Merchants 2018 Newry Tall Ships
Famine Ship : An Escape to the Unknown

Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, unveiled a plaque commemorating all of those who had to flee Ireland due to the famine in 2015.

Famine Memorial Warrenpoint

The Lough Legends

Legend has it that Finn McCool flung Cloughmor (Big Stone in Irish) to put the finishing touches on the evil giant Ruscaire after an epic battle lasting three days that raged through the Carlingford Lough area.

Finn was so exhausted from the battle that he lay down, never to waken.

One of the enduring games passed down to children from generation to generation is to try and spot the outline of the eternal resting Finn on the Cooley Mountains.

The Chronicles of Narnia

The words of CS Lewis – author of The Chronicles of Narnia  -were fantasy and reality blur into one:

‘I have seen landscapes, notably in the Mourne Mountains and southwards which under a particular light made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge,’

When thinking about County Down and Carlingford Lough he wrote: 

‘I yearn to see County Down in the snow, one almost expects to see a march of dwarfs dashing past. How I long to break into a world where such things were true.’

This is a super set of the 7 Books of the Chronicles of Narnia HERE

That part of Rostrevor which overlooks Carlingford Lough is my idea of Narnia.

Creativity at The Lough

The Carlingford Lough is a hotbed of creativity – musicians, poets, writers and artists – and it’s no wonder it’s beauty inspires!

Jacqueline Rooney is a local artist born in The Mournes and living in Rostrevor – this is what she has to say about Carlingford Lough:

I have views out of my studio of Carlingford Lough, the Cooley Peninsula and the Mourne Mountains and subconsciously they are filtering through most of my work because I want to celebrate the beauty of where we live with the rest of the world as much as possible.

Jacqueline talks about her leap of faith and how where she grew up inspired her to follow her dream – Watch, Listen or Read here Jacqueline Rooney Art Podcast Interview

Jacqueline Rooney Artist Podcast Interview
Jacqueline Rooney Artist

Blue Light on The Lough

Blue Light Haulbowline Lighthouse Cranfield
Blue Light Haulbowline Lighthouse Cranfield

Haulbowline Lighthouse can be best viewed from Cranfield beach.

It is one of the few remaining 19th century lighthouses in Ireland that is still in operation.

In the picture above, the lighthouse is lit up blue in tribute to all of the frontline and care workers of the health service in Ireland for their courageous work through the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020.

Haulbowline Lighthouse was built in 1824 and still plays a vital role keeping ships navigating in Carlingford Lough safe from the treacherous rocky bar across the mouth of the Lough.

The lighthouse will be lit blue from 9.30pm for the month of August if you are are out and about in Ireland for a Staycation 2020

Fun on The Lough

Water sports on the Lough

Carlingford Lough is a popular destination for anyone who loves some fun in the water.

In fact, we are the best place in Ireland for a Staycation 2020

Water skiiers, Kitesurfers and leisure sailors all use the Lough for the joy it provides with our most natural of resources.

Kids having fun on a speeding banana boat with East Coast Adventure during the summer just leaves us all wanting to have a go.

East Coast Adventure Banana Boat Warrenpoint
Banana Boat Fun at Warrenpoint

Warrenpoint has a stony beach which is put to good use by local children who get all creative and paint the stones with all sorts of wonderful designs.

Warrenpoint Graceful 💓 Anyone who has taken a walk around the front shore in Warrenpoint can’t help but see the...

Posted by What's The Point? on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

If you want a beautiful sandy beach, make your way around the coast road to the beautiful Cranfield. (you will get a great view of the lighthouse at any time of the year.)

Fun on The Lough

The Yard at Church Lane Coffee

Carlingford Ferry carries Finn McCool

Finn McCool and Carlingford Lough

More footage of Finn's dramatic trip across Carlingford Lough! The countdown is on to the GIGANTIC parade through Warrenpoint Town Centre at 4pm. The Point Man will lead Warrenpoint in a chorus of noise and fun to try and waken Finn from his sleep!

Posted by What's The Point? on Saturday, August 18, 2018

Carlingford Ferry takes Finn the Giant across Carlingford Lough on his journey to Warrenpoint for the Wake The Giant Festival

Carlingford Ferry say that they are ‘The best way to get from Carlingford or to visit Mourne’

The ferry is in operation since 2017 and first set sail in June of that year. 

The journey across will take about 15 minutes.

Nature and The Lough

Warrenpoint Port and Carlingford Lough

Carlingford Lough Dredging Warrenpoint Port

Warrenpoint Port is one of Northern Ireland’s main commercial ports.

The Port operates on the shores of Carlingford Lough in Warrenpoint.

It handles over 3 million tonnes of cargo annually and according to the Warrenpoint Port Masterplan document in 2017, the value of goods moving through Warrenpoint Harbour was 6.2 billion.

The Masterplan document (link below) outlined the economic growth objectives of Port up until 2043 with development of a Newry Southern Relief Road, Carlingford Lough dredging and growth expansion.

Carlingford Lough: A Nature Reserve

Heron on Carlingford Lough
A Carlingford Lough Heron

Carlingford Lough is a protected nature reserve.

The Lough is the home to countless species of birds and marine life.

Much of the wildlife are visitors to the Lough to feed or have their young while others are permanent residents.

There are a number of local environmental action groups – Love Your Lough and Rostrevor Action Respecting the Environment – who provide a voice for nature when the progress of industry and the protection of the environment and our landscape, residential areas and daily life compete.

Bluebell Wood on the shores of Carlingford Lough

Warrenpoint’s magical Bluebell Wood can be found on the shores of Carlingford Lough.

The Bluebell wood can be found on the A2 dual carriageway from Newry to Warrenpoint. 

You can read all about the enchanting bluebell wood of fairies, secret codes and why Bees love the bluebells : Bluebell Wood, Warrenpoint Northern Ireland

Who owns Carlingford Lough?

Carlingford Lough who owns it?

This is a subject of dispute and confusion with neither the British Government or the Irish Government accepting jurisdiction of Carlingford Lough.

This issue was up for discussion between the British and Irish Governments particularly in light of the implications of sovereignty and regulation in light of Brexit.

As it stands, we are none the wiser!

One thing we do know is that the Lough belongs to everyone who call’s it home!

Videos of Carlingford Lough

Our Lough Neighbours

Carlingford: A Summer Visit

A last summer day out visiting our Lough neighbours in Carlingford! “Faith is the virtue of the storm, just as...

Posted by What's The Point? on Friday, March 13, 2020

Video: How a Glacier moves and carves away the rock

Video: Blues on The Bay Warrenpoint

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