The Case of the Disappearing Lake

Turlough at Kinvarra-Cloonnasee: Burren Nature Sanctuary

April 22, 2022:  Day 4. Kinvarra-Cloonnasee: Burren Nature Sanctuary

An early spring has arrived in Ireland.  Wildflowers carpet the meadows and paths, apple blossoms emerge, animals make tunnels through winter’s dry grasses and turloughs have appeared over the winter months.

Wild violets peak out among shaded areas
Apple Blossoms emerge
Animals leave burrowing trails in the dry grass

 A turlough (turloch or turlach in Irish), is an intermittent temporary seasonal water body, almost virtually unique to Ireland.  They are found mostly in limestone karst areas, west of the river Shannon.  A turlough lake or water body is typically wet in the winter and dry in the summer.  The fluctuation varies with the area’s groundwater table.  When the underground water table level drops, the water drains away through cracks in the karstic limestone. Annually, rainfall and springs and fissures fill the underlying limestone, flooding the above ground turlough area in the winter.

Turlough at Kinvarra-Cloonnasee: Burren Nature Sanctuary

The uniqueness of turloughs is of high interest to geomorphologistshydrologists, botanists and zoologists .

Turlough at Kinvarra-Cloonnasee: Burren Nature Sanctuary
“Turloughs are mostly found on the central lowlands west of the Shannon, in counties GalwayClareMayo, and Roscommon, although a few are also found elsewhere, e.g. in LimerickSligoLongford, and Cork…….. Turloughs will usually have specific place on the floor where water flows in and out, called a swallow-hole (slugaire in Irish[2]). Sometimes an actual hole can be seen, but more often it is a hollow filled with stones.”

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