River Lagan ( ) is a major river in Northern
Ireland which runs 40 miles (60 km) from the Slieve Croob mountain in County Down
to Belfast where it
enters Belfast Lough, an inlet of the
The River Lagan
of the border between County Antrim
and County Down
. It rises as a tiny fast
moving stream off the Transmitter road near to the summit of Slieve
Croob. From here it continues on its journey to
Belfast through Dromara 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).
river continues on its journey to Belfast it turns east to Magheralin into a broad plain between the Antrim plateau and
the plateau of 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.
one significant tributary, the Ravernet River, and there are
several minor tributaries, including the Carryduff River, the River Farset and the Blackstaff
Water quality is generally fair though there are
localised problems and occasional pollution incidents, mainly due
to effluents from farms.
The Lagan in Belfast
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.
Lagan Weir during a falling tide
Interestingly, the Farset has been superseded by the River Lagan as
the most important river; the Farset now languishes under the
city's High Street in obscurity.
In 1989 the Laganside
was established by the 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
One of the
earliest and most important undertakings of the Corporation was the
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 put an end to the appearance of
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
of the river by mechanical
has led to a marked improvement
in water quality and the environment around the river.
is used by a number of rowing clubs including Queen's University Boat
Club, Queen's Ladies Boat Club, Methodist
College Boat Club, Royal 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.
The Lagan in Lisburn
In a similar way to the regeneration of Belfast riverside Lisburn City 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
late 1800s a canal 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
The old Lagan Canal (disused) at
Broadwater, near Aghalee (The disused canal is not part of River
Lagan, part of The Lagan River was another part of this
However by the mid twentieth century the
route had fallen into disuse and was largely derelict. The M1 motorway
was built across
the route. Currently, the section of the navigation's
towpath running from Lisburn to almost
the centre of Belfast has been
Atlantic salmon became extinct 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
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.