Introducing Lough Corrib
The Republic's biggest lake, Lough Corrib, virtually cuts off western Galway from the rest of the country. Over 48km long and covering some 200 sq km, it encompasses more than 360 islands, including Inchagoill, which has a monastic settlement that can be visited from Oughterard or Cong.
Lough Corrib is world-famous for its salmon, sea trout and brown trout. The highlight of the fishing calendar is the mayfly season, when zillions of the small bugs hatch over a few days (usually in May) and drive the fish – and anglers – into a frenzy. Salmon begin running around June. In Oughterard, the owner of Canrawer House is a good contact for information and boat hire, as is Thomas Tuck's Fishing Tackle, an excellent shop teeming with local knowledge.
The largest island on Lough Corrib, Inchagoill is a lonely place hiding many ancient remains. Most fascinating is an obelisk called Lia Luguaedon Mac Menueh (Stone of Luguaedon, Son of Menueh), which marks a burial site. It stands about 75cm tall, near the Saints' Church, and some people claim that the Latin writing on the stone is the second-oldest Christian inscription in Europe, after those in the catacombs in Rome. Teampall Phádraig (St Patrick's Church) is a small oratory of a very early design, with some later additions. The prettiest church is the Romanesque Teampall na Naoimh (Saints' Church), probably built in the 9th or 10th century. There are carvings around the arched doorway.
Corrib Cruises sail from Oughterard to Inchagoill and Ashford Castle near Cong.
North of Lough, you can literally go to the dogs near the town of Clonbur. Joyce Country Sheepdogs offers a chance to see the amazing feats performed by working sheep dogs on an actual farm. Book in advance.