Truly breathtaking lakeland, unrivalled throughout Europe - from the loughs the night sky is jet black and studded with a panorama of brilliant stars.
The county derives its name from ‘Firmonach’, ‘the men of Monach’, a Celtic tribe that settled around the shores of the loughs in the early Christian era.
The twin lakes of Lough Erne, Upper and Lower, cover one-third of Fermanagh. With such an abundance of water including lakes, rivers and canals there are many opportunities to island-hop your way through the waves and currents, or you can join a cruise through the waters of Upper and Lower Lough Erne taking in the breathtaking scenery and landscapes.
Local folklore says that a graceful woman glides across Lower Lough Erne through the mists of May, clad in flowing garments and carrying a garland of wild flowers. Her appearance is an omen of good times ahead and is celebrated at the Lady of the Lake Festival each July in Irvinestown.
Evidence of the Celts abounds here, particularly in the enigmatic pagan stone idols of Boa Island. The two-headed Janus figure on Boa Island was the inspiration for Seamus Heaney’s poem, ‘January God’, with the Celts believing that the head was the seat of the soul and the centre of man’s life force.
Take a boat tour across to Devenish Island, one of the most important monastic sites in Northern Ireland. Founded by Saint Molaise in the sixth century, it includes a round tower, bell tower and a refuge from the Viking Raids.
Fermanagh is also home to three National Trust properties – Castle Coole, Crom Estate and Florence Court.
As one of Ireland’s greatest neo-classical houses, Castle Coole is an 18th century mansion with beautifully landscaped gardens and stunning interiors including a State Bedroom prepared for George IV. The grounds are perfect for a leisurely walk in picturesque surroundings. Crom Estate is considered to be one of the National Trust’s most important nature reserves as the largest surviving area of woodland in Northern Ireland. With a combination of historical ruins, islands and woodlands it also offers tranquil landscapes and beautiful surroundings. The Old Castle Garden is also home to the ancient Yew Tree, named among the 50 greatest British trees.
Florence Court is one of our most important 18th century houses, noted for its rococo plasterwork and a fine collection of Irish furniture – explore in detail with an organised tour.
Fought over and captured many times, Enniskillen Castle dates back to the early fifteenth century and houses the museum of the Inniskilling Fusiliers. The Duke of Wellington acknowledged that this regiment saved the centre of the line at the Battle of Waterloo. The town’s Portora Royal School, founded by James I in 1608, includes such literary alumni as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett.
Don’t forget to explore the underground network of caverns at the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. The longest is 7 kilometres, so don’t get lost!
Find out more about the Fermanagh's History
Enniskillen, capital of the Lakelands, is one of Ireland’s most charming country towns. Great for shopping and eating out, contemporary bistros offering fine food and a lively atmosphere are a perfect way to spend an evening off the boat.
Depending on your preference you may wish to head up town to Blakes of the Hollow, one of the great classic pubs of Ireland or spend another while enjoying Irish Coffees on the shimmering banks of Lough Erne before heading for a romantic stroll along the moonlit boulevard!