Lough Erne Attractions
Northern IrelandOne of the most attractive inland tourist areas in Northern Ireland is the county of Fermanagh (county town Enniskillen), which includes the large recreational area around the two halves of Lough Erne, probably Ireland's most beautiful lough.
It is about 50mi/80km long and at its point of greatest width measures some 6mi/10km. The northern half is known as "Lower", the southern as "Upper Lough Erne". The latter is a maze of narrow waterways, inlets and islands and gives the impression of a vast lakeland area, with new twists and turns at every point, rather than a single lake in the conventional sense.Lough Erne is a bird-watcher's paradise, where grebes, gray herons and swans can be observed, as well as a favorite destination for water-sports enthusiasts and anglers, the latter having the opportunity here to land roach, perch, bream, salmon, pike, etc. In summer there are motorboat services on the lough, and it is also possible to hire motor cruisers, which even the most confirmed landlubber can learn to handle in a very short time. The western end of the lough lies almost on the border with the Republic of Ireland and has sluices to regulate the water level.
Enniskillen is a popular holiday resort with a number of lovely old homes and parks.
Belleek, Northern Ireland
Belleek is located on the Erne River. The town is famed for its fine china.
This annual 10-day festival takes place in Belleek late June and includes a focus on fiddle-playing. Fiddlers come from throughout Ireland to perform during the festival. Traditional Irish music and performances make up the rest of the festival's program.
See local craftsmen create the world-famous Belleek pottery, or Belleek "basket weaving" technique.
No visitor to Lough Erne should omit the trip to the island of Devenish, at the south end of Lower Lough Erne, which has the remains of an abbey founded by St Molaise in the sixth century, with a perfectly preserved round tower over 80ft/25m high, tapering towards the top. There are also fragments of St Mary's Abbey and the Great Church (12th C.) with a cross some 6ft high.Ferries depart from Trory Point which can be reached along the lane to lough shore (carpark) from junction of A32/B82 three miles north of Enniskillen. (April-Sept.: Tues-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun. 2pm-7pm.
Opening hours: Apr 22 to Sep 30: 10am-6pm
Entrance fee in GBP: Adult £2.25, Pensioners (OAP) £1.20, Child £1.20
Devenish Monastic Site
Devenish Monastic Site contains the remains of Lough Erne's most important island monastery, St Molaise founded it in the 6th C. The remains include a Romanesque church and a 12th C. round tower, crosses and the Priory Church.
At the cemetery of Caldragh on the island of Boa, in Lower Lough Erne and accessible by a bridge, there are two Celtic double-faced sculptures of Janus dating back to the first century.
Marble Arch Caves
The Marble Arch Caves, southwest of Enniskillen and on the northern edge of the Cuilcagh Mountains, are worth a visit. Accessible to a depth of some 700yd/640m, they contain weird stalactite and stalagmite formations, sinter terraces and waterfalls.Visitors can take a tour which starts with an underground boat trip (1.25 hours). The visitor center offers a geology exhibition and audio-visual presentation.
Other holiday resorts in the area of Lough Erne are Ballinamallard, on the river of the same name (5mi/8km northeast); the village of Bellanaleck, in the heart of the lake district (5mi/8km south of Enniskillen); Kesh, beautifully situated on Lower Lough Erne, with possible excursions to Boa Island and White Island; Lisbellaw on Upper Lough Erne, with wool spinning and weaving mills; and Lisnaskea, also on Upper Lough Erne, with its ruined Balfour Castle; and the little village of Belleek, famous for its long tradition of porcelain manufacture.Ferries depart from Castle Archdale marina to White Island during summer months. The main attraction on the island is a ruined 12th C. church with a fine Romanesque doorway. The archaic stone figures in the wall pre-date the church itself.
Crom Estate and Nature Reserve
Crom Estate contains 1,900 acres of woodland, parkland and wetland, making it one of Northern Ireland's paramount nature conservation areas. Buildings include the Old Castle, boathouse and summerhouse.
Explore Erne Exhibition
The history of the people of Lough Erne and the formation of the lough itself is presented at the exhibition in the Erne Gateway Centre.