Titanic: Belfast Built

`
Fermanagh: Life on the Water

Welcome to a water wonderland

A magical place, a majestic history

County Fermanagh is a water wonderland. Strange, maybe, for a county without a coastline but here’s the thing: Fermanagh has an amazing abundance of lakes, rivers, peninsulas, inlets and waterways. Either island-hop your way via kayak or canoe, take a tranquil cruise, cycle waterside or trek the mountains. This is a place with a rich history, too. Think rock carvings dating from 3000BC, majestic estates and mysterious island sculptures.

And they know their food in Fermanagh. Just ask the G8 leaders who tucked in at Lough Erne Resort if you don’t believe us. This is, after all, a place where organic pigs live on their very own island. No, really.

All sounds a little unusual, doesn’t it? Well, the Fermanagh Lakelands have always been a little different. Perhaps that’s why we like it so much…

"Lough Erne, The most beautiful runway in the world"

Leonard "Tuck" Smith, American co-pilot of the Catalina 2, 209 Squadron.

Eat

Fermanagh food is fresh and fabulous. Sit down to a seafood supper or a sizzling Ulster Fry and you can be sure that the food is free-range and locally sourced. Take Pat O’Doherty, whose black bacon sandwiches are legendary. We think we know why – check out the video above to find out more. Fancy whipping up your own gourmet meal? The stunningly located Belle Isle Cookery School boasts a state-of-the-art kitchen and the freshest ingredients. Private cookery lessons mean that you don’t just cook a culinary masterpiece – you eat it, too.

Enjoy

Grand estates are key clues to Fermanagh’s aristocratic legacy. The elegant Florence Court in Enniskillen, for example, boasts the discovery of the first yew in Ireland, around 1760. Stay for a walk around the estate; the adorable thatched summerhouse and water-powered sawmill are just two highlights. Nature lovers should head to Crom Castle’s nature reserve to convene with rare butterflies and a small herd of fallow deer that were reintroduced here in the 1970s. Having vanished without a trace during WWII, they’re back home where they belong.

Explore

The UNESCO Marble Arch Caves are widely considered one of the finest show caves in Europe. Why? Situated at the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain, this subterranean world is a captivating underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers. Kids especially will adore the adventure aspect of it all. Just remind them that Batman operates from something similar. If you’re looking for an above ground adventure, we recommend Lusty Beg Island. Go off-road driving on the rustic terrain, learn to string a bow with archery lessons and spend a day canoeing and kayaking on Lough Erne. 

Beckett in Fermanagh

Did you know that Nobel Prize-winner Samuel Beckett was schooled in County Fermanagh? Long before penning Waiting For Godot, the Dubliner was a schoolboy at Enniskillen’s Portora Royal School. Quite rightly, the town celebrates this literary link with the Happy Days Festival, the world’s largest annual celebration of Beckett. Running from 31 July – 01 August the festival is a busy eleven days of theatre, music, visual art, talks, discussions, and plenty of Beckettisms. Of course, you can’t have a Fermanagh festival without something water-related: one of this year’s events can only be reached by boat…

Festival dates: July 31 - August 10

Festival location: Enniskillen

Festival website: happy-days-enniskillen.com

Festival brochure: Download here

Fermanagh Facts

  • Lough Navar forest in Enniskillen gives you a panoramic view of the whole of Lower Lough Erne, and on a clear day you can even see the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.
  • A collection of 154 islands and countless nooks and crannies make Fermanagh an explorer’s paradise.
  • Scenes from the film Miss Julie were shot on location in Castle Coole in Fermanagh, and starred Irish actor Colin Farrell along with award-winning actors Jessica Chastain and Samantha Morton.
  • Lough Erne Resort golf course is getting ready to host the Irish Open in 2017
  • If you were to cruise the length of the Shannon-Erne waterway between Leitrim and Lough Erne, you would travel 40 miles.
  • Oscar Wilde is a Portora Royal School alumni, having graduated in 1871 – 48 years before Samuel Beckett became a pupil.
Watersports

Sport + water = Fermanagh. Lough Erne’s open waters are a paddling paradise in a kayak or canoe. Row your own merry way or follow the Lough Erne trail which spans 50 kilometers and links to the river Shannon. For a gentler paddle, Lower Lough Erne provides shelter with its maze of bays and narrow channels of slow-flowing water. For extreme water activities try Ultimate Watersports: water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, water trampolines are all on offer…you won’t want to get out of the water!

Water Living

A stay in Fermanagh means you’re always going to be close to water. For 5-star luxury, try Lough Erne Resort: host of 2013’s G8 Summit and winner of Northern Ireland Tourism’s Hotel of the Year 2014. Fermanagh Lodges offer a wide selection of self-catering cottages and apartments – all water-adjacent. Take Cygnet Lodge: a cozy lakeside retreat offering fishing boat and engine hire, and even complimentary canoe paddles. Everything you need for a lazy (or a splashy) day on the lake.

Waterways

The Fermanagh Lakelands boasts Europe’s longest network of waterways - perfect for traffic-free cruising. A luxurious cruise on the Lough Erne waterways ensures you don't miss the 12th century church on White Island with its eerie stone figures, or the mysterious two-faced Janus statue on Boa Island. Hiring your own boat is easy too, as no license or experience is required. Got the travel bug? A trip on one of Corraquill Cruising’s adorable Dutch Barges will take you the whole way to the River Shannon.

On Tour: Alternative touring options in the Fermanagh Lakelands

Don’t fancy rowing or paddling yourself around Fermanagh’s lakelands? Hop on a cruise. The luxury Inishcruiser tours Upper Lough Erne, taking in the likes of Gad Island, where you will find Crichton Tower, a stone folly built in the mid 1800s to serve as an observatory. The cruise alights at the Tudor-style Crom Castle Boathouse, allowing you to take a tour of the estate.

Walkers should head for Cuilcagh Mountain – the highest summit in the county and a part of the UNESCO Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. There are a vast array of terrains, including forests and castle walks, as well as a network of quality walking routes known as the Waymarked Ways, covering a total of 360km (225 miles)!

Good news cycling fans: Fermanagh is part of The National Cycle Network in Northern Ireland. Routes vary from traffic-free to more challenging long-distance routes. For a taster, try the Kingfisher Cycle Trail; a designated route of over 370km (230 miles) crossing a unique mixture of lakelands, canal sidetracks, and rolling hills.

Offers

Your trip to the Fermanagh Lakelands needn't cost you an arm and a leg. Check out these special offers for satisfying savings that could make your trip.

Itineraries

Enjoying your visit to Fermanagh? There’s a lot more to see in Northern Ireland, from the Causeway Coast Route to HBO’s Game of Thrones Territory. Explore Northern Ireland with these itineraries.

Getting Around

There are many ways of getting from a to b in Ireland, and we’ve got all the information you need.