The Lee flows from the lake of Gougane Barra as a fast paced torrent, but at the village of Ballingeary it eases and flows into a string of lakes. This is Loch Allua, perhaps more correctly Locha Lua, for it is said that it is named after a water monster called Lua which St.Finbar threw out of Gougane Barra Lake. It landed here and the depression filled with water, hence the lakes.
Departing the lough, at Inchigeelagh, it again becomes rapid on it's way to Cork City and the sea. This area is often known as Gleann Allainn na Laoi (The Beautiful Lee Valley).
Lough Allua actually is a ten kilometre long chain of lakes situated between Ballingeary and Inchigeelagh in the Lee catchment. The lake has a surface area of 138ha and a maximum depth of 28m. The lake falls into typology class 4, i.e. deep (mean depth of over 4m, larger than 50ha and low alkalinity (below 20mg/l CaCO3). Under the 2009 Cork Development plan, Lough Allua has been proposed as a Natural Heritage Area, indicating the presence of important semi-natural and natural habitats, landforms or geomorphological features, wild plant and animal species or a diversity of these natural attributes.
A local tour boat, The Sheila Free, has recently commenced trips on the lake. Click here for details.
Historically Lough Allua was known for producing good trout, salmon and Arctic char. In the 1830s there was an accidental release of pike from a local privately owned pond and this event and human predation were attributed to the destruction of the char population in the lake'. The lake is now well known for its pike angling, with pike of between 10kg and 14kg regularly being caught. Water quality monitoring is carried out on the lake on a monthly basis by the Southwestern Regional Fisheries Board.
Lough Allua was surveyed in 2008 as part of the Water Framework Directive surveillance and monitoring programme. During this survey, perch were found to be the dominant species present in the lake. Roach, rudd, bream, pike, gudgeon, roach x bream hybrids, rudd x bream hybrids and eels were also captured during the survey. The mixed bags in Lough Allua make it very special angling location with perch, roach, rudd, bream and hybrids all making an appearance on the average day. With a backdrop of green hills, trees, open water and wildlife it really is a beautiful place to be.