The River Roe (Irish: Abhainn na Ró[1]) is a river located in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It flows north from Glenshane in the Sperrin Mountains to Lough Foyle, via the settlements of Dungiven, Burnfoot, Limavady and Myroe. The River Roe's length is 34.25 miles (55.12 km)[2]

River Roe
River Roe flowing through The Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady. - - 542102.jpg
River Roe flowing through The Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady
Etymologyróe, 'withe'/'rope'
Native nameAbhainn na Ró (Irish)
Physical characteristics
 • locationGlenshane, Sperrins
 • location
North Channel via Lough Foyle
Length34.25 miles (55.12 km)


The origin of the name 'Roe' is unclear. Suggestions include a Viking origin in the 8th/9th century, and the Irish 'rua', meaning 'red', i.e. the Red River. This may be a reference to the high amounts of iron found in some places along the river.[3]

The Irish government's placenames database,[4] held by Dublin City University, identifies the Irish version of the name as Abhainn na Ró. This roughly translates into English as "The River of Rowing", possibly due to common passage by oar-powered boat craft in earlier times.


The Roe Basin (or Roe Valley) is a wide, glacial valley. The river flows most of the way to Limavady through an open, grassy, pastoral farmland landscape before narrowing through a metamorphic rock gorge within the Roe Valley Country Park.[5] Beyond Limavady the river widens and meanders to an estuary feeding into Lough Foyle at Myroe Levels. Due to the wide, open nature of the upper reaches of the Roe, heavy rainfall can result in large surges of water or floods. Many lower lying fields have earth defences to prevent flooding when the river rises above its natural banks. The estuary is a feeding ground of many birds and nesting area for lapwing.

The main tributaries of the Upper River Roe are the Owenrigh River (which begins in Banagher) and the Owenbeg River (begins near Feeny). They merge outside Dungiven. The main tributary of the Lower River Roe is the Curly River which joins after Limavady.[citation needed]


The Roe Valley Country Park is a popular area for fishing, with stock of salmon, sea trout and brown trout.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Abhainn na Ró".
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey of Ireland: Rivers and their Catchment Basins 1958 (Table of Reference)
  3. ^ Lueg, Jochen. "The Name of the River". Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  4. ^ "Placenames Database of Ireland". Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  5. ^ "Roe Basin Landscape". Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Roe Valley - A selection of angling waters in Northern Ireland". Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.

External linksEdit

55°04′N 7°00′W / 55.067°N 7.000°W / 55.067; -7.000