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Enniskillen

The Jewel of County Fermanagh

Nestled amidst the serene landscapes of County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, the historic town of Enniskillen stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of Irish culture, history, and natural beauty. With its impressive heritage, breathtaking surroundings, and vibrant community, Enniskillen invites visitors to step into the heart of Northern Ireland’s charm.

A Historic Gem

Enniskillen boasts a history that spans centuries, bearing witness to countless events that have shaped the region. Its name, derived from the Irish “Inis Ceithleann,” means “Ceithleann’s island,” a nod to the town’s island setting within Lough Erne. Throughout its history, Enniskillen has been at the heart of the region’s culture, trade, and administration.

The Flight of the Earls

The town is closely associated with the Flight of the Earls in 1607, a significant event in Irish history. Following a failed rebellion against English rule, the Gaelic lords and their families fled Ireland, leaving behind a power vacuum. The subsequent Plantation of Ulster saw the arrival of English and Scottish settlers, contributing to the changing demographic and political landscape of the region.

Market Town and Trade Hub

Enniskillen has long served as a bustling market town and trade hub. Its strategic location at the heart of Fermanagh, with access to the navigable waters of Lough Erne, made it a center for commerce, drawing merchants and traders from far and wide.

Lough Erne’s Embrace

One of Enniskillen’s most captivating features is its location between the upper and lower sections of Lough Erne, an extensive and picturesque waterway celebrated for its tranquility and beauty. The town’s setting along the shores of this pristine lake offers residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy boating, fishing, and leisurely lakeside strolls.

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Community and Culture

The town, despite its size, boasts a strong sense of community and camaraderie. Enniskillen locals are known for their warm hospitality, often seen in the town’s traditional pubs and local events. The welcoming atmosphere encourages travelers to immerse themselves in the local culture and engage with the community.

Enniskillen Castle

Enniskillen is home to the remarkable Enniskillen Castle, an imposing structure with historical significance. The castle has witnessed many pivotal events in Irish history and now houses two museums that delve into the region’s heritage. Its stunning architecture and surrounding grounds make it a centerpiece of the town’s history and culture.

The castle’s history is chronicled within its walls, and today it houses two museums, the Fermanagh County Museum and the Inniskillings Museum, which offer visitors an in-depth look into the region’s past.

Outdoor Pursuits

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Enniskillen provides a gateway to explore the natural beauty of County Fermanagh. The nearby Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is an underground wonderland where visitors can explore geological marvels. Castle Archdale Country Park, located on the shores of Lough Erne, offers walking trails, birdwatching, and picnic opportunities in a peaceful countryside setting.

The Troubles and Peace

In more recent history, Enniskillen was touched by the Troubles, a period of political and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. The town was the site of a tragic bombing in 1987 during a Remembrance Day parade, resulting in numerous casualties. However, Enniskillen is also symbolic of the peace and reconciliation efforts that followed the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The town has made significant strides in fostering a sense of unity and healing in the years that followed.

In Conclusion

Enniskillen, the jewel of County Fermanagh, embodies the essence of rural Northern Ireland. Its rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant community make it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat and a deep connection with nature and heritage. Whether you’re interested in exploring the surrounding countryside, engaging with local culture, or simply savoring the tranquility of the town, Enniskillen offers an authentic Irish experience that lingers in the memory. It’s a place where time seems to slow down, and the beauty of nature takes center stage, inviting visitors to relax and discover the magic of rural Northern Ireland.

Enniskillen Town

Enniskillen is the County Town of Fermanagh, located almost exactly in the Centre of the County on the natural island which separates the Upper and Lower sections of Lough Erne. The town is home to a population of approximately 11,500, by far the largest settlement in the County. As one would expect, the town is a retail centre for the County, and beyond, but it has yet to succumb to the blandness which infects many modern towns.

The town centre is firmly built along the long, narrow Main St, which actually changes name six times along its length! This gives the town a real sense of bustle and life as well as imbuing the shops with their own unique character. There is no new, anonymous, development to be found on the Main Street and the established High Street Stores sit comfortably beside small independent traders, creating a special atmosphere for the place. A feature of Enniskillen which is becoming increasingly unusual is the number of small bars and hostelries which appear on the Main Street, providing welcome relief from the shops!

At the centre of the town is the Town Hall, which was completed as recently as 1901. The Clock Tower here is six stories high and can be seen from everywhere, complete with its statues marking the proud military heritage of the Town. The Bandstand outside the Town Hall is used regularly through the Summer and works well to add to the impression that this is a very warm and unusual retail center.

At the west end of the Main Street can be found the town’s two main Churches. St. MacCartan’s Church Of Ireland Cathedral dates from 1842. Inside, General Lowry Cole, who also overlooks the town from his Column in the Town Park, is commemorated. The Cathedral is noted for its Bells, with one in particular being cast from a cannon used in the Battle of the Boyne. St Michael’s RC Church is opposite St. MacCartan’s, on the other side of the Main Street, and dates from 1875. The building has a steep roof and is actually best viewed from the rear. Inside a window portrays St Molaise, founder of the Devenish Monastery.

One of the key images that a visitor to Enniskillen may take home with them is the proximity of Lough Erne to the town. Moorings just outside the town centre certainly ease the pressure for parking spaces and add a continental feel to the town.

These moorings are also close to Enniskillen’s Erneside Shopping Centre. Erneside has a number of High Street Stores, including Marks & Spencer, Argos and Next and there are now large ASDA and Tesco Supermarkets in the same area of town – all your shopping needs are within walking distance of the Town Centre.

Further down the Lough is the Ardhowen Theatre, Fermanagh’s own cultural entertainment centre, which boasts a full and varied program of entertainment.