The name of the river which runs through Belfast in Northern Ireland. It rises to the South-West on Slieve Croob in County Down and makes its way to the sea at Belfast.
The river was the main communication route between many settlements in "The Lagan Valley" until the building of the Lagan Canal in the early 1800s, which runs parallel to the river along much of its course. The canal was used in import and export materials from Northern Ireland's burgeoning Linen industry and to bring coal to the inland factories and joined with a number of other canals to form a vital network throughout Ireland.

In the latter part of the 20th century, the canals fell into disuse and for many years the river Lagan was polluted by effluent from industry, sewage and litter.
During the 1990s a programme of improvements in the treatments of effluents, coupled with the introduction of the Lagan weir and aeration systems have contributed to a reduction in pollution. As a result, there has been a great deal of new development around the banks of the river in the centre of the City. These developments have the umbrella title "Laganside" and include trendy appartments, offices and culminate in The Waterfront Hall, a large and modern concert hall venue.

It is worth noting that the Lagan is the largest and most significant river which has shaped the City of Belfast's development, but the name Belfast comes from two Irish words Beal-fierste meaning "at the mouth of the Farset" (excuse bad Gaelic->English spelling!), the other river which now flows underground through the city centre and joins the Lagan near the sea.

Originally "lagan" meant goods cast overboard from a vessel with a floating buoy attached to mark their place for later recovery. By extension, it has also come to mean goods still inside a the hull of a sunken ship or loose on the seabed. It is unlikely that it derives, as Webster 1913 asserts, from the Latin ligare "bind"; a more probable origin is the Old Norse lagn-, from the Germanic base of lay.

La"gan (?), n. & v.

See Ligan.


© Webster 1913.

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