The assessment of lacustrian water quality is necessary to comply with environmental regulations. At the regional scale, difficulties reside in the selection of representative lakes. Given the risks towards water quality associated with phytoplankton blooms, a mesoscale survey was carried out in Irish lakes to identify patterns in the distribution and diversity of planktonic cyanobacteria. A stratified sampling strategy was carried out via geographic information systems (GIS) analysis of river catchment attributes due to the range of hydrogeomorphological features and the high number of lakes within the study area. 16S rRNA gene denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis showed variation between the cyanobacterial communities sampled, with lower occurrence of cyanobacteria in August concomitant to increased wind and precipitation regimes. Multivariate analysis delineated three ecoregions based on land cover typology and revealed significant patterns in the distribution of cyanobacterial diversity. A majority of filamentous cyanobacteria genotypes occurred in larger lakes contained river catchments with substantial forest cover. In contrast, higher diversity of spherical cyanobacteria genotypes was observed in lakes of lesser trophic state. In the context of aquatic resource management, the combined use of GIS-based sampling strategy and molecular methods offers promising prospects for assessing microbial community structure at varying scales of space and time.