Close to the source of the River Shannon, with Slíabh an Íarainn on one side and the Arigna Mountains on the other, Lough Allen is viewed by locals as the 'jewel in the middle'.

In 1934 Lough Allen was closed by the ESB (Electricity Supply Board) and used for 62 years as a reservoir for the Ardnacrusha Power Station part of the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme. 

In 1996 as a result of major investment in Leitrim Waterways, the North Western isolated lake was linked with the rest of the Shannon water system. It is estimated that by opening up access to the lake 40,000 new visitors would visit Lough Allen in the remaining months of 1996. Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Michael D Higgins travelled on the first boat into Lough Allen and performed the opening ceremony in Drumshanbo, county Leitrim.

The restoration work took 4 years to complete and cost £1.5 million. The project is part of a number of waterways developments where the Irish Government intends to invest £23 million by 1999.

An RTÉ News report by Ciaran Mullooly broadcast on 6 April 1996.