Lough Cooter Castle, one of the “slow places” of the western counties, stands on the edge of the lake from which it takes its name, two miles from the town of Gort, in Galway county. The castle is quite modern, having been erected at a cost of about £80,000 by the second viscount, from plans by Nash, the renovator and architect of the newly added portion of Windsor Castle. It is described as built in “the severe Gothic” style. The walls are of massive solidity, and constructed of beautifully chiselled limestone. The lake covers an area of nearly eight square miles, and is studded with wooded islands. One of these has been for years the home of innumerable herons and cormorants; perhaps the only instance on record of an island in a fresh-water lake being inhabited by the latter birds.
The Gort river flows out of the lake and, at a romantic glen known as “The Punchbowl,” falls into a deep rocky abyss, totally disappearing underground until it reaches Cannohoun. Here it rushes out of a rocky cavern and then flows through Gort where it turns several mills and, falling again, makes it way – appearing and sinking several times – through the sands into Kinvarra Bay, six miles from Gort.