Loughrea (Baile Locha Riach in Irish) is a thriving town in County Galway, Ireland. The town lies on Loch Riach, 'the grey lake' although some say the name derives from Loch Riabhach which means 'speckled lake'. The term 'riabhach/ speckled' is still used in the town as the name for the local multi-faith primary school - Gaelscoil Riabhach. The town has a pristine range of wooded hills, the Sliabh Aughty along its southern boundary.
Scene: Main St
Date: 1910 (estimate)
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Read aboutLoughrea below
The population of the town and its immediate hinterland is in the region of 4500, and is undergoing a period of rapid expansion as it increasingly becomes a commuter town for the city of Galway. As of 2004 the town is widely known for its traffic hold-ups (commonly referred to by locals and passers-through alike as 'grid-lock-rea'). This problem was largely resolved with the opening of a bypass in December 2005.
Loughrea was traditionally a farming town, that cut it's industrial teeth with Tynagh Mines, 6kms 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.
The Turoe stone in nearby Bullaun (8kms 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 easily the most important repositary of Celtic-revival art and architecture in Ireland. Spring-fed, Loughrea Lake overlooked by Knockash is a fisherman's dream, teeming with trout, pike and perch. It is also an important bird sanctuary as well as being a water-sport and swimming delight. Museum in Dartfield, in Kilrickle, 8 kms to the east. Immediately behind the Loughrea boat house are the remains of an old crannog. The Loughrea dwellers of another time would have sought protection from raiders by living in comparitive security provided by the lake. Horse-riding and trekking are well catered for in Aille and Kylebrack, 6kms to the south. Karting is katered to in Tynagh, and the Turoe Petting Farm is popular with kids and parents alike in Bullaun.
Loughrea was historically served by 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. A committee hearing in Dublin in December 2006, heard that Iarnrod Eireann has decided to redevolop the railway line as part of its reconstruction plan for the country' railroads. By 2008 Loughrea will hopefully be re-connected to the main Galway to Dublin rail-line.
Loughrea GAA Club are currently Galway and Connacht Hurling champions. They also reached the 2007 All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship final, but lost out to Ballyhale Shamrocks. Loughrea has a successful Rugby club, Loughrea Rugby Club a challenging 18-hole golf course and a competitive Athletic Club. Each year, In October, the town plays host to the BAFFLE International Poetry Slam. Loughrea also boasts a thriving Musical and Dramatic Society, Historical society, and a strong community association. In the 2006 National Glór na nGael awards for Irish language in local communities Loughrea's Glór committee was awarded first price in it's category as well as prices in other categories. GLOR has an umbrella committee which involves almost all local organistaions in the promotion of Irish and the language has a visible presence in the town.