Fermanagh – Ireland’s Lake District (off season!!)

County Fermanagh is primarily an outdoor destination,  so a bad weather forecast,   with more expected precipitation than normal,  should have been enough to make me stay at home and light the fire!  But no,  once I got it into my head,  well that was that!   The weather was not the only reason to hold off on a February trip – many of the county’s main tourist attractions are seasonal and don’t open up until mid March or Easter.

So – not only do you need to imagine blue skies for this one,  but also remember this will not show you the full picture.   If I manage to convince you to visit the area then I think the Irish Tourist Board should come begging for my exceptional marketing skills!!!

Fermanagh is one of the 6 counties of Northern Ireland and one of 32 counties on the island.   Famous for its lakes – particularly Lough Erne – tourism is an ever increasing industry in the region.

Ireland_location_Fermanagh

I have long been very familiar with the main road through the county – although I was raised in Dublin,  both parents came from Donegal and this was our route on several occasions each year.   Apart from shopping or getting something to eat,  we never ever stopped to explore or enjoy the county.

So that was about to change in February 2020!

DAY 1

The local tourist board has done a great job throughout the county – all attractions are well signposted and there are info boards in scenic areas.

20200219_121518 (1)

 

20200219_121109

 

This is DRUMLIN country – small rolling hills ( formed by the movement of glacial sheets).

DSC_1550

 

20200219_122444

 

The road on the southern side of the lakes meanders on occasion over and back across the border – you won’t really notice until you see mile signs change to kilometres and back again to miles,  or money signs go from £ to € and back again.

 

Now – ignore the rain and mist for a while and enjoy Lough Erne and its neighbours….

DSC_1426

 

DSC_1438

 

DSC_1447

 

DSC_1425(These are the rushes that are used to make St. Brigid’s Day crosses)

 

DSC_1434

 

DSC_1473

 

DSC_1445

 

DSC_1470

 

Its not all about rolling hills and waterways – the area is rich in Celtic mythology:

This is popularly known as the Janus Statue (after the 2 faced Roman deity)  because it has two faces but is thought to be a Celtic God.   There is little known about its date or purpose.  It is located in Caldragh graveyard on Boa Island which is the largest island in Lough Erne and accessible by car

DSC_1465

 

DSC_1468

 

The Drumskinny site is believed to have been built around 2000BC,  possibly for religious or astronomical purposes –  there is no evidence that the site was used for burials.

DSC_1479

 

DSC_1477

 

DSC_1484

 

Entrance to Castle Caldwell Forest

DSC_1451

 

Beautiful but not a day for a walk!

DSC_1453

 

Enniskillen is the county town and located almost midway in the county between Upper and Lower Lough Erne.

The 15th century castle now houses 2 museums with interactive exhibitions.

DSC_1492

DSC_1504

 

Belleek Pottery was established in 1857.   Each piece of china passes through 16 pairs of hands from design to finished product and no 2 pieces are identical.   You can join a tour or just wander through the shop and in house museum.  Its a handy place for lunch – served on their own china of course!!!DSC_1446

 

 

DAY 2

With promises of a reasonable morning before bad weather descended again,  we decided to risk a walk between snow showers.   Rather than retracing our steps from the day before,  we headed for Florence Court,  an 18th century estate about 8 miles from Enniskilllen.

The house was closed but the grounds were accessible and almost deserted.

DSC_1552

 

DSC_1551

 

We headed off on the Blue Walk which took about 75 minutes allowing for an easy pace and stopping to read the info boards.

DSC_1559

 

DSC_1562

 

Lady’s Well used to supply drinking water to the big house

DSC_1568

 

This Yew Tree is the original mother tree of thousands of Irish Yews growing across the world. (Sorry about the photo – its snowing!)

DSC_1578

 

DSC_1589

 

Quick – smile for the camera before the sun disappears again!

DSC_1592

 

Big houses had the luxury of an ice house – Ice was gathered from lakes and rivers in winter and packed into chambers with meat and fish being suspended above

DSC_1594

 

DSC_1595

 

Eel House Bridge was a great spot for catching ….. yes – eels!

DSC_1601

 

This Hydraulic Ram was used to pump water from a stream into a tank in the attic which would then serve the rest of the house for all purposes except drinking water (which came from Lady’s Well).

DSC_1610

 

The saw mill produced estate necessities such as cart wheels,  fishing rods and coffins!

DSC_1612

 

Signs of spring in the gardens….

DSC_1619

 

DSC_1651

 

DSC_1684

 

The central block was built first and the colonnades and pillars were added later.

DSC_1632

 

DSC_1636

 

DSC_1635

 

The landscaped parkland stretches out in front of the house

DSC_1637

 

The stable yards are now home to public facilities – shop,  cafe,  bathrooms….

DSC_1642

 

DSC_1643

 

The 4 acre walled garden featured ponds,  lawns,  roses and vegetables.

DSC_1652

Volunteers from the National Trust are restoring the vegetable beds.

DSC_1675

 

Weather turning bad – time to give up and find a shop or a pub!!

DSC_1689

 

Not to be missed in summer….

Marble Arch Caves

9487760294_02aa54388e_c

Devenish Island Round Tower

960px-Ruins_on_devenish_island

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Visual Hunt / CC BY

8 thoughts on “Fermanagh – Ireland’s Lake District (off season!!)

  1. My you have explored the area thoroughly! I’m presuming the latter photographs were taken at a different time as they are lacking in the mist that is prevalent in your early ones. Not that that’s a drawback, as it is so typical of an Irish day. Lovely selection of illustrations you given us here and it does bring the place to life. I’ve only stopped at Enniskillen overnight so can’t say I know the area, but we visited Florence Court while we were in the vicinity. I can see I should make a return visit to see the things I missed, but then that applies to virtually everywhere in the world, possibly more so in Ireland which has changed so much over the past two decades. Great post.

    1. Thanks Mari… like yourself we only knew the area to pass through but we’ll definitely go back .. in better weather hopefully!!

  2. One of my sons is planning to move to Northern Ireland to be with his girlfriend there (they have both had to move to their respective homes because their work has stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak). If and when he does, we will be visiting Northern Ireland for the first time too and this post will be useful as we explore the less well travelled parts of Northern Ireland. Thanks

    1. I hope things work out and that their plans will soon be back on track. There’s lots to see and do in NI – you’ll be busy for several visits. And hopefully you’ve direct flights from close enough to home – you’ll be over and back all the time. Try and get to see County Donegal also…
      XXXMarie

    1. I think those few photos make it look even worse that day than it actually was – certainly not the best add for the place!!

Leave a Reply