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Who lived in Enniskillen Castle

  • Date: April 27, 2024
  • Time to read: 3 min.

A Brief History & Visitor Information For This County Fermanagh Castle

There’s something uniquely majestic about Enniskillen Castle. Nestled right on the banks of Upper Lough Erne right in the centre of Enniskillen – Ireland’s only island town – it is a striking emblem of the town’s fascinating history.

Beloved by locals, the castle is considered one of the most prominent architectural monuments in County Fermanagh and attracts visitors from across the country and abroad; it’s a draw for tourists and historians alike.

Enniskillen Castle is a must-visit for anyone wanting to get a better understanding of the history of Enniskillen. A walk around the castle offers stunning views and photography opportunities aplenty, while inside, in the state-of-the-art museum, you’ll take a walk through time, discovering 600 years of fascinating local history.

Here, we offer a brief summary of Enniskillen Castle’s interesting past, including who lived there and when was it built.  

Who lived in Enniskillen Castle? A brief history

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Enniskillen Castle was built. The earliest known reference to the castle can be found in the ‘Annals of Ulster’ in 1439, where we’re told of Tomas Óg Maguire being taken prisoner there by Domnall Maguire ‘the Freckled’.

However, it’s believed that the castle was built sometime before Hugh ‘the hospitable’ Maguire’s death in 1428. In short, the castle has stood on the banks of Lough Erne for around 600 years.

If you haven’t guessed already, the castle was home to the Maguires, a powerful Ulster family who ruled the area around Lough Erne.

Enniskillen was the family’s stronghold until it was besieged and captured by the English under Captain John Dowdall in February 1594.

But the castle didn’t stay in English hands for land. In May 1594 an Irish army led by Hugh Maguire and Cormac MacBaron O’Neill besieged the English garrison of the castle, defeating English forces in August of the same year.

In May 1595, English forces surrendered and Enniskillen Castle once again belonged to the Maguires.

In 1607, Enniskillen Castle came under English control once more following the Flight Of The Earls – the departure of many of the local earls and their followers from Ireland to the continent.

Now in the hands of Sir William Cole, the castle keep was refurbished and a watergate was added.

In 1689, Enniskillen was besieged and two local regiments – the Inniskillings Fusiliers and the Inniskillings Dragoons – were formed to defend it.

Today, Enniskillen Castle is home to two museums: the Fermanagh County Museum and the Inniskillings Museum.

The site recently underwent a £3.5 million investment and has become a popular tourist destination.

Visiting Enniskillen Castle

Enniskillen Castle is now home to a start-of-the-art visitor centre – recently visited by King Charles III himself.

It’s free to visit and includes the Fermanagh Visitor Information Centre, the Fermanagh Genealogy Centre, the Café at the Castle, a gift shop and toilet facilities.

While there you can enjoy a self-guided tour around the Castle’s two museums.

This video shows you what to expect…

What other castles are nearby?

If visiting castles is your thing, then there are quite a few for you to choose from in Fermanagh.  

Castle Coole

This neo-classical house is really something to behold. Surrounded by acres of woodland and a peaceful lake, it’s the perfect spot for a nature walk too – and just a short drive from Enniskillen Castle.

Portora Castle

These 17th-century castle ruins are situated on the outskirts of Enniskillen and guard a former crossing point where the river meets Lough Erne. Peering out across the Lough, you can see monastic site Devenish Island from here on a clear day.

Crom Castle

A little further afield situated in Newtownbutler, but worth a visit nonetheless. This stunning 19th-century castle is like something out of a fairytale and Disney seems to think so too. The castle was scouted as a potential filming location by the movie company in 2014. It’s surrounded by 2,300 acres of woodland and has lakeside walks.

Looking for more attractions in Enniskillen? Visit our Enniskillen and County Fermanagh tourist guide

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