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.
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!
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.
This is DRUMLIN country – small rolling hills ( formed by the movement of glacial sheets).
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….
(These are the rushes that are used to make St. Brigid’s Day crosses)
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
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.
Entrance to Castle Caldwell Forest
Beautiful but not a day for a walk!
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.
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!!!
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.
We headed off on the Blue Walk which took about 75 minutes allowing for an easy pace and stopping to read the info boards.
Lady’s Well used to supply drinking water to the big house
This Yew Tree is the original mother tree of thousands of Irish Yews growing across the world. (Sorry about the photo – its snowing!)
Quick – smile for the camera before the sun disappears again!
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
Eel House Bridge was a great spot for catching ….. yes – eels!
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).
The saw mill produced estate necessities such as cart wheels, fishing rods and coffins!
Signs of spring in the gardens….
The central block was built first and the colonnades and pillars were added later.
The landscaped parkland stretches out in front of the house
The stable yards are now home to public facilities – shop, cafe, bathrooms….
The 4 acre walled garden featured ponds, lawns, roses and vegetables.
Volunteers from the National Trust are restoring the vegetable beds.
Weather turning bad – time to give up and find a shop or a pub!!
Not to be missed in summer….
Marble Arch Caves
Devenish Island Round Tower