Lore and Legend

Piers gives a detailed account of the fairy lore associated with how Lough Owel came to be located in Westmeath as follows:

There were two sisters one in Roscommon and one in Westmeath who were famous for their skills in enchantments. The sister in Leinster sends word to her sister in Connaught that she needs a lake for some great design and requests the Connaught sisters lake on loan, promising to restore it on Monday. The good natured sister in Connaught quickly winds up her lake and places it in a sheet made to fit the purpose and sends it off to her sister in Leinster. The Leinster sister places it where it now is, makes use of it but does not return it on the Monday. Turbulent times evolve between the two ladies regarding which Monday the lake was to be returned however the lake remained in Westmeath where it is today

It was believed that the waters of Lough Owel gave signs of portended drownings and this is told in the folklore of County Westmeath as follows:

On the 5th September 1909 three young men went by boat from Portloman shore to Clonhue and walked the remainder of the way to the sports at the Friary Multyfarnham. It was night fall when they returned to Clonhue and they visited a woman near the lake shore before they started their journey. She begged them not to cross the lake as she had seen portends of a drowning on the waters that evening. They started out regardless of her warning however the boat capsized and two were drowned. The sole survivor could not explain what caused the accident or how he came to be saved. Some years previous to this a man fell overboard and was drowned in the same place and some old people had seen portends of a drowning at that time also.

One hundred years ago a long spell of very severe weather caused the lake to be frozen over. A funeral was brought on the ice from Ballinafid to Portloman graveyard. Four men carried the coffin and over three or four hundred followers. Cattle were also brought across and hay was carted on the ice.

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