Carlingford Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest (NI)
CARLINGFORD LOUGH, United Kingdom
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Carlingford Lough (Irish: Loch Cairlinn – Cairlinn being a shortened form of Cathair Linn, which means "stone ringfort of the pool") is a glacial fjord or sea inlet that forms part of the international border between Northern Ireland to the north and the Republic of Ireland to the south. At its extreme interior angle (the northwest corner) it is fed by the Newry River and the Newry Canal, which link it to the nearby city of Newry (the Canal continues on towards the River Bann and Lough Neagh; the river, under the name River Clanrye, loops around County Down). The only other known glacial fjords in Ireland are Lough Swilly and Killary Harbour.
On the northern side, in County Down, are the coastal towns of Warrenpoint and Rostrevor, backed by the Mourne Mountains. On the southern coast are Omeath, Carlingford and Greenore backed by the Cooley Mountains, all on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth.
In older sources, Carlingford Lough is called Snám Aignech (meaning "swift channel", "swift shallows").
On 3 November 1916 two steamers, the SS Connemara and the SS Retriever, collided and sank in the loch with the loss of ninety-four lives. In the late 1980s Charles Haughey, the then Irish Taoiseach sailed his yacht into Carlingford Lough and raised an Irish Tri Colour. As Carlingford Lough is half in the U.K., the Royal Navy thought he was in the U.K. and believed he was a Republican, and grew suspicious. They pursued him. As they left dock, the Taoiseach realised what was happening. He called in the re-enforcements of Irish Navy ship LÉ Eithne, which was close by. Eithne sailed to the mouth of the Lough and stopped, effectively barricading the Royal Navy gunboat in.
Carlingford Lough is a popular venue for sea angling and yachting. Lough cruises are now a regular feature on the Lough during the summer months.
The northern shores contain mudflats and salt marsh, so provide winter feeding areas for the Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Branta bernicla hrota. At the mouth of the lough are several small rock and shingle islands which are breeding areas for terns, which feed in its shallow waters.
The Carlingford Lough Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention), is 830.51 hectares in area, at Latitude 54 03 00 N and Longitude 06 07 00 W. It was designated a Ramsar site on 9 March 1998. It is a cross-border site. The northern shore is in Northern Ireland and includes the most significant mudflats in the lough, and an area of salt marsh. The southern shore is in the republic of Ireland. At the mouth of the lough are several small rock and shingle islands which are of importance to terns. The Ramsar Site lies between Killowen Point and Soldiers Point on the northern shores of Carlingford Lough and the landward boundary coincides entirely with that of the Carlingford Lough Area of Special Scientific Interest and the Carlingford Lough Special Protection Area.
The site qualified under Criterion 2 of the Ramsar Convention because it supports important groups of vulnerable and endangered Irish Red Data Book bird species. It supports nationally important breeding populations of Common Tern. Roseate Terns returned to the site after an absence of six years with two breeding pairs recorded in 1997. It has also supported nationally important numbers of Arctic Tern. It also qualified under Criterion 3c for supporting internationally important breeding populations of Sandwich Tern and of overwintering Light-bellied Brent Geese.
Coordinates: 54°04′24″N 6°11′58″W / 54.07329°N 6.19938°W / 54.07329; -6.19938
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