Lough Derravaragh or Loch Dairbhreach in Irish, is a lake north of Mullingar in County Westmeath. It is found on the river Inny which is a major tributary of the River Shannon. The Inny flows into and out of the lake on its northwest shore and flows on into the Shannon.
Lough Derravaragh is best known for its connection to the Irish legend of ‘The Children of Lír’. The story goes that the four children of Lír – Fionnuala, Aodh, Conn and Fiachra were turned into swans by their jealous stepmother, Aoife, on Lough Derravaragh. It was said that Aoife was taking the children to see their grandfather, Bobh Dearg, and stopped at the lake for a swim. Once in the water, Aoife took her druid’s wand and turned the children into swans. She then cursed them to spend 300 years on Lough Derravaragh, 300 years on the Straits of Moyle, and 300 more years on Inishglora.
Today, Lough Derravaragh is a beautiful scenic area and is part of the ‘Lough Derravaragh Natural Heritage’. It mostly comprises of the lake, but it includes a variety of wetland, grassland, and woodland habitats. There is a wide variety of plants and trees here. It is also a ‘Special Protection Area’ under the EU Bird Directive. There are three species of bird named on the directive: the Greenland white-fronted goose, the golden plover and, of course… the whooper swan!