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Irish: Camloch
The 'crooked lake' from which Camlough derives its name
Camlough is located in Northern Ireland
 Camlough shown within Northern Ireland
Population 1,081 (2011)
District Newry, Mourne and Down
County County Armagh
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town NEWRY
Postcode district BT35
Dialling code 028, +44 28
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament Newry & Armagh
NI Assembly Newry & Armagh
List of places
Northern Ireland

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Camlough or Camloch (/kæmˈlɒx/ kam-LOKH; from Irish: Camloch, meaning "crooked lake")[1] is a small village in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It is near Bessbrook and the slopes of the Ring of Gullion. In the 2011 Census it had a recorded population of 1,081.[2]



In December 1920, local man Frank Aiken led an abortive Irish Republican Army assault on the Royal Irish Constabulary station in Camlough. In reprisal the newly formed Ulster Special Constabulary burned Aiken's home and those of ten of his relatives in the area.

The Troubles

Camlough is situated in South Armagh, which was the most militarised region in Western Europe during the Troubles. The region was a stronghold of support for the Provisional IRA, earning it the nickname "Bandit Country" (see Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade).

On 19 May 1981, five British soldiers were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) landmine attack on the Chancellors Road near Camlough. The soldiers had been travelling in a Saracen armoured personnel carrier when the bomb exploded. This attack was during the 1981 Irish hunger strike in Maze (HM Prison), and near to the home of one of the hunger strikers, Raymond McCreesh.

World Record

A Guinness World Record for the longest open water relay swim was broken by a team of intrepid swimmers at Camlough Lake in South Armagh on Saturday 19 September 2009.[3] The group beat the world record for a 'continuous long distance relay swim' after embarking on the world beating attempt over a week before.

Two hundred swimmers from across Ireland took part in the challenge. The previous record was 480 km; Camlough set the record at 680 km.

Places of interest

  • Ballykeel Dolmen and Cairn are south west of Camlough, at the western foot of Slieve Gullion.[4] The dolmen is an example of a portal dolmen and is made up of two portal stones with a sill between, and a lower backstone supporting a huge capstone.


  • Feile Chamlocha is the annual festival held in Camlough in the summer months including Camlough Festival and the Crooked Lake Triathlon
  • Crooked Lake Triathlon is an annual triathlon held in Camlough in June.
  • Camlough Lake Water Festival CLWF is home to Irelands only outdoor / open water swimming festival over a weekend in August. As well as introductory swimming events the lake also hosts the National 5k & 10k swims for Swim Ireland. Other events include:
  • Lord & Lady of the Lake 2.4km
  • Night Swim
  • Coffee Dock Swim
  • Try a Tri
  • 1k swim
  • Kids & adults duathalon (swim run)


Open Water / Marathon Swimming Since breaking the Open Water Relay Guinness World Record the lake has been a prominent training ground for Triathletes and Open Water Swimmers. Local Swimmer and CLWF Chairman Padraig Mallon then went on to complete the English and North Channel in the same year (only 3rd person to ever do so). His sister Colleen Mallon went on to break the Irish record for crossing the North Channel in 2014 and Keith Garry completed the English Channel in 2014. The area has also produced 2 successful relay teams crossing the North Channel and world class ice swimmers.

Camlough Rovers F.C. is the local football team, playing in the Mid-Ulster Football League.

Camloch is famous for its links with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The village hosts two Gaelic football clubs. St Patrick's Carrickcruppen GFC has won four Senior county championships; Shane O'Neill's GAC, a continuation of the first Camloch club (William O'Brien's, founded in 1888), has won two Senior and three Junior titles.

Craobh Rua Camloch hurling club was established in 1991 in the Camlough and Bessbrook areas of South Armagh. As hurling had not been played in the area in some 40 years, the club received some help from Armagh Hurling Board chairman, Jimmy Carlisle, who helped set up coaching courses for the children and their mentors. Over its first ten years the club has successfully fielded teams at under 12, under 14, under 16 and since 2010 at under 8, minor and senior levels. They play their home games at Dunster Park (An Dún Rua) on High Street, Derrymore.

In 2010 the Seniors reached the Junior Championship Final and subsequently made it to the semi-final of the Ulster championship. The Under 14s won the 2010 Championship and the Feile, and represented County Armagh in the All Ireland Feile in Ennis, where they reached the semi-final. There are currently three Craobh Rua players representing Armagh at senior inter-county level, Fiachra Bradley, Micheal Garvey and Ryan Lewis.


2001 Census

Camlough is classified as a Small Village by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 500 and 1,000 people). On Census day (April 29, 2001) there were 910 people living in Camlough. Of these:

  • 27.6% were aged under 16 years;
  • 12.6% were aged 60 and over;
  • the average age was 31.8 years (NI average age 35.8 years);
  • 46.5% of the population were male and 53.5% were female;
  • 98.8% were from a Catholic Community Background;
  • 1.2% were from a 'Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)' Community Background;
  • 9.7% were born outside Northern Ireland; and
  • 0.0% were from an ethnic group other than white.

Notable residents


  1. Placenames Database of Ireland
  2. See Census 2011 - Headcount and Household Estimates for Settlements published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, available at
  3. "Longest distance swimming in relay (open water)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2015-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Archaeological Sites of Counties Armagh and Down" (PDF). Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum. Retrieved 2010-11-17. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>