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Touring Fermanagh

Upper Lough Erne courtesy Visit Britain County Fermanagh is dominated by the two Lough Ernes: Upper and Lower (the northernmost), with Lower being the largest and the two together measuring 50 miles in length. In the two lakes there are 154 islands, many of which housed monasteries in the past. The lakes are famous for their fishing.

Devenish Round Tower by Barbara Ballard Devenish High Cross by Barbara Ballard The county town of Enniskillen lies between the two lakes. Just north on Devenish Island is the site of a 6th century monastery, St Molaise. A museum displays some of its stone remains. An 81-foot high round tower dates from the 12th century, as does St Molaiseís House. Other buildings are 15th century St Marys Priory and High Cross and the 12th century Lower Church.

Castle Archdale country park courtesy Kenny Allen Castle Archdale courtesy Kenny Allen Continuing northward along Lower Lough Erneís shore leads to Castle Archdale set in a country park with a variety of trees and shrubs, deer, red squirrels, game birds, and other wildlife. Also in the park are an arboretum, walled garden, and 19th century pleasure grounds. Modern gardens include a Japanese garden and butterfly garden.

Castle Archdale country park centre courtesy Kenny Allen A visitor centre and the ruins of the castle are near the park entrance. Near the park is White Island, where a pre-Norman monastic site was located with the church ruins and eight stone figures remaining. On Boa Island are stone figures in a graveyard.

Castle Caldwell Forest Park entrance courtesy Kenny Allen The main A47 route goes across a bridge and to a peninsula sticking out into the lake. Here is Castle Caldwell Forest Park. The park serves as a breeding ground for the common scoter duck. Islands in the area serve as bird sanctuaries. The park has a visitor centre and the unstable ruins of Castle Caldwell built in 1612.

Belleek Pottery courtesy Kenny Allen At the far western end of Lower Low Erne is the village of Belleek, made famous by its pottery which has produced decorated Parian ware since the late 1850s. The pottery offers a tour, visitor centre, and shop. Belleek is linked to the city of Limerick by the 500-mile navigable Shannon-Erne Waterway.

Tully Castle by Barbara Ballard Heading down the western edge of the lake on the A46 leads to Lough Navar Forest with its cliffs of Magho viewpoint, and Correl Glen, then to the town of Tully. Tully Castle, a fortified planterís house, was constructed in 1613 at nearby Derrygonnelly.

Monea Castle by Barbara Ballard Continuing south brings ruined Monea Castle into view. It is a large and well preserved three storey, 17th century tower house. Towers, turrets, vaulted kitchens and upper chambers are on view. The road soon leads back to Enniskillen.

Enniskillen St Macartin Cathedral courtesy Rosemary Nelson Enniskillen Castle is made up of a 15th century castle and an early 16th century rebuilding. The central keep is home to a museum. Buildings of note in the town centre are the 1821 courthouse, 1898 town hall with six storey clock tower, 1842 St Macartinís Church of Ireland cathedral, and 1875 St Michaelís Roman Catholic church. The Fermanagh Heritage Centre and Museum has displays on natural history, folklife, archaeology, the townís history, and gives an AV presentation.

Castle Coole by Barbara Ballard Castle Coole just south of Enniskillen is considered one of Irelandís best neo-classical houses. The house, owned by the National Trust, was built in 1798 and restored in the 1980s. Rooms are complete with elaborate Regency furnishings, paintings, and plasterwork. The house sits in a landscaped park, which includes servantsí quarters and tunnel, a stable yard, ice house, and walks to tiny Lough Coole.

Florence Court by Barbara Ballard Marble Arch cave boat by Barbara Ballard South-west of Enniskillen and west of Upper Low Erne is Florence Court Forest Park and Marble Arch caves. A tour of the limestone caves is available and includes a boat trip on an underground lake. Florence Court, overlooked by the Cuilcagh Mountains, is a Palladian mansion house set in parkland owned by the National Trust. Much of the original house contents are on display in a tour that shows off the rococo decoration, Irish furniture, and servantsí quarters. Walks, a sawmill, and walled garden are other attractions.

Upper Lough Erne from Galloon Island courtesy Stephen McKay Lough Erne at Drumcraw courtesy Kenny Allen At the very bottom of Upper Lough Erne on the county border is the National Trust Crom Estate, made up of woodland, islands, and historic ruins. It is a nature conservation area with a visitor centre, guided walks, boats for hire, holiday cottages, a wildlife exhibition, and a 19th century castle (not open).

Lough Erne at Ely Bay courtesy Kenny Allen Heading back up the A34 on the eastern side of Upper Lough Erne, the road leads to Lisnaskea where a folklife display tells about rural life in the county. Castle Balfourís ruins are just off the main street of the town. An 1841 Cornmarket building has a high cross that once belonged to a monastery. The medieval church graveyard has a collection of 18th century gravestones.

East of the lake is the Vintage Cycle Museum at Brookeborough. The railway station built in 1887 is now a community hall.

Fermanagh Attractions

Belleek Pottery Visitor Centre
Tel. 028 6865 9300
Web: Belleek Pottery

Brookeborough Vintage Cycle Museum
64 Main St, Brookeborough
Tel. 028 8953 1206

Castle Archdale Country Park and Museum
Near Lisnarrick on B82, three miles south of Kesh
Tel. 028 6862 1588

Castle Balfour
Main Street, Lisnaskea
Tel. 028 6632 3110

Castle Caldwell Forest Park
On A47, four miles east Belleek
Tel. 028 6634 3032

Castle Coole
Tel. 028 6632 2690

Crom Estate
Upper Lough Erne, Newtownbutler
Tel. 028 6773 8118

Devenish Island Monastic Site
Devenish Island, leave from Trory Point from junction of A32/B82, down lane north of Enniskillen

Enniskillen Castle and Museums
Tel. 028 6632 5000

Explore Erne
Erne Gateway Centre, Belleek
Tel. 028 6865 8866

Fermanagh Crystal
Main St, Belleek
Tel. 028 6865 8631

Florence Court Forest Park
Tel. 028 6634 8249

Lisnaskea Folklife Display
Tel. 028 6772 1222

Lough Erne Cruises
Tel. 028 6632 2882

Lough Erne MV Kestrel Cruises
Round O Quay, Enniskillen
Tel. 028 6632 2882

Marble Arch Caves
Marlbank scenic loop, Florence Court
Tel. 028 6634 8855

Monea Castle
On B81, seven miles north-west Enniskillen
Tel. 028 6632 3110

Roslea Heritage Centre
Tel. 028 6775 1750

St Marcartinís Cathedral and Regimental Chapel
Tel. 028 6632 3110

Tully Castle
Derrygonnelly, near Tully

County Fermanagh Tourist Information Centres

Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism
Fermanagh Tourist Information Centre
Wellington Road, Enniskillen
Tel. 028 6634 6736
Open: Easter-Sep, Sat, 10am-6pm, Sun, 11am-5pm, Mon-Fri, 9am-5.30pm; in July and Aug, Mon-Fri hours are 9am-7pm.

Tourist Information Centre
Explorer Erne Centre, Belleek
Seasonal opening

Official Website

Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism

Photos of Devenish Round Tower, Devenish High Cross, Tully Castle, Monea Castle, Castle Coole, Florence Court, Marble Arch Cave boat © by Barbara Ballard

Photo of Upper Lough Erne courtesy of Visit Britain
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Castle Archdale, Castle Archdale Country Park, Castle Archdale Country Park Centre, Castle Caldwell Forest Park, Belleek Pottery, Lough Erne at Drumcraw, Lough Erne at Ely Bay by Kenny Allen; Enniskillen St Macartin by Rosemary Nelson; Upper Lough Earne from Galloon Island by Stephen McKay

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