The flooding of Roo

Roo is an area that suffers a great deal during severe winter flooding and this article will describe Roo and some of those dynamics and impacts that flooding has on the area.


Roo is located, as the crow flies about 5.5 km  directly West from Gort.  If you are driving from Gort to Kinvara, via Tierneevin, it’s about 3km from Tierneevin church on the left hand side of the road and it consists of a small village with several families (Kerins’, Moylans, Quinns)

Location of Roo, Co.  Galway

The village is bordered by Clare and further west the Burren rises as the Turloughmore  Mountains which are almost 200m high. Lough Bunny lies to the South and Kinvara is to the north.

Summer Levels

The Roo area has a permanent water body called Roo Turlough and the whole area toward Turloghmore mountains is relatively dry during the summer period . Here is the Roo turlough seen in the overall South Galway hydrology


Severe Winter Levels

Severe winter rains causes a flooding issue with the whole Roo area and surrounding areas of Clare such as Cushacorra,  Killeenmacoog.  In a similar dynamic to the Slieve Aughty mountains. Water flows off to the east side of 197m high,  Turloughmore mountains, which is a limestone region with many karst features and water flows both over and under ground. This water flows east and fills up Turloughs along the way and eventually overflows Roo Turlough and Roo Village.   This is shown in the map below:


If you compare the two previous pictures you can see the expanding water flows. And the diagram below shows this on a satellite image.  It floods a huge amount of farmland and threatens and floods farm buildings and houses as well as blocking roads and access to the area.


Between Roo Lake and Roo village it flows across a road and then as it flows into Roo village the water simply has nowhere to go (it seems) as there is no direct outlet and it floods the little village.

Lena Moylan’s house in Roo. (Courtesy Sean Brady Aerial Photography)

This flooding can be seen in detail on the drone video (Courtesy of Sean Brady Aerial Photography)


The impact of the Roo community is devastating as the levels rise.  The farmers here have a very tough time as the cattle have to be moved and in one case, instead of 300m, on farmer had to drive 17km twice a day to deliver his feed to his Cattle.  One house flooded and 10 more were badly threatened and many farm buildings were flooded. The people here support each other to keep the flooding out of each others houses.


There is also a substantial amount of farmland flooded. It’s hard to believe now but the flooding was up past the digger on the right, and would have been 40-50ft deep in the valley in the center of the picture, which is between Roo Turlough and Roo Village. This is only one area in Roo but there was substantial farmland flooded upstream in Clare toward the Turloughmore mountains.

Another key impact from the flooding was the blocking of access around Roo and also on the new line between Kinvara and Tubber which caused significant impact on people trying to get to work or drop/pick-up kids from school or farmers wanting to monitor or feed their cattle. This situation lasted over 9 weeks.

Flooding blocked significant access to the surrounding area

Swallow holes

Most of the Turloughs have their own drainage (e.g. Roo Lake is drained by a swallow-hole in the middle of the lake) but with severe winter rains, as with much of South Galway, the underground systems simply cannot handle the flows.

The only way that Roo itself drains is through a swallow hole within a woodland beside Roo village (53.069371 Lat.,  -8.897702 Long.) .  Even though it is 120m away from the nearest house, the water flow can be heard in full flow and seems to keep the levels of Roo in check (although this is already flooding houses in the village)   Another telling dynamic is a depression in Moylan’s field that seems to act as water-level indicator. The locals remark that when there is water on the new line (Newtown) there is water in this depression which  would seem to indicate a connection between Roo and Coole lake and consequently this means that the levels of Coole lake will determine the rate of water flow through the swallow hole (Similar to what happens in Tierneevin and Kiltartan)


We got accurate flood levels (Using highly accurate GPS Altimeter taken by Liam Stapleton) taken in some of the areas and found the following:

Levels taken by Liam Stapleton (formerly of OS Ireland)

The flood at it’s maximum level Roo village was at 16.322m which was 1.5 m from level of Coole-Garryland which had maximum flood level of 14.68m and about 2km away.   That’s a 1.5M difference.  Given the connection to Coole highlighted by locals it’s reasonable to assume that the high-levels of Coole lake would reduce the flows out of Roo.

Also, at this stage, the level of Roo, Roo Turlough and back to Poulasluggagh was close to even with a flow across the road.


Remedial Works

During and after the flooding, Clare County council (with Galway County council?) raised the road between Roo Lake and Roo village and without sufficient drainage for the water flow.  In fact, as they raised the road, a cascade was created over a metre and it made it’s way from the Source in Turloughmore and Roo lake into Roo village.  While this may slow some of the water flow into Roo village,  this will have a bigger impact westwards as it will probably increase levels and duration of flooding – something that locals think hasn’t been considered.

Why can the county council do this without consideration of the impact on the local area? – As usual it seems to be about indiscriminately raising roads without due concern to impacts locally.

If a road that had been flooded and water flows across it then it’s simply not acceptable to just raise the road becaue this will increase levels upstream and generally water will still have to flow across the road anyway.


The Geology of the area seems to work against the area as heavy rainfall  running east off the Turloughmore mountains doesn’t have any overground outlet and it seems that the swallow hole in the woods close to Roo village is the only drainage mechanism.  The locals speculate that the swallow hole did have some work done in the distant past as there seems to be rocks taken up from it.  It may be useful to explore the depression in Lena Moylan’s field to see if it could drain more water.

As with many areas in South Galway, reducing the peak flood levels of Coole Lake by several meters would provide better flows our of Roo.  For Roo village itself some minor works (raise road close to Moylan’s house to stop from entering the driveway around the bunds, would be useful

One key concern is the indiscriminate raising of roads that act like dams which increase levels and prolong flooding duration.  They may benefit downstream but surely this should be analyzed and discussed with all concerned.

-David Murray



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