A Trip to Enniskillen area Northern Ireland - What to Expect
Enniskillen Travel Guide
If you are looking for stunning scenery then look no further than County Fermanagh and the picturesque market town of Enniskillen which is a perfect base for exploring the area around spectacular Loch Erne. Enniskillen is the vibrant county town of Fermanagh, and is a lively hub of events, festivals, and activities throughout the year.
This historic town is located almost exactly in the centre of County Fermanagh and is strikingly situated on an island in the River Erne between the Lower and Upper sections of Loch Erne. Enniskillen’s handsome high street is jam-packed with old-style pubs, boutiques and family-run shops. The tall church spires of the St. Macartin’s and St. Michael’s add character to the leafy town centre, as do the stylish redbrick Georgian houses.
It’s one of Northern Ireland’s hidden gems and is a wonderful spot to spend a weekend or discover the surrounding delights on a day trip to the Fermanagh lakelands. For those with a limited budget follow our travel guide recommendations of places to visit and things to do to make the most of your visit to the Enniskillen area.
Explore Beautiful Loch Erne
Enniskillen’s name is derived from its original Irish name, Inis Ceithleann, which means ‘Ceithleann’s island’. Ceithleann was a mythological Irish goddess, who legend says was wounded in battle, she tried to swim across the River Erne to escape the island but failed to reach the other side. The close proximity of the Loch Erne to the town is one of the enduring features of the town. Moorings can be seen just outside the town centre giving a continental atmosphere to the place.
The Lower and Upper Lochs are widened sections of the River Erne and are renowned for their beautiful setting. Enjoy exploring the surrounding countryside, walking along the lush banks of the Lochs, or Loughs as the are known locally, and picnicking on the rocky hilltops looking out across the many scattered islands that add such character to this most scenic waterway.
Or bring your mountain bike to experience the delights and challenges of the Kingfisher Cycle Trail and ride to the top of the Magho Cliffs to take in the breathtaking panoramic views.
Plentiful Fishing and Watersports
There are over 150 green wooded islands with picturesque coves and inlets just waiting to be discovered. With over 300 square miles of fresh water this vast expanse of water is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
Loch Erne is fantastic for fishing, so if you are a keen angler don’t forget to bring your rods and tackle for some leisurely wild brown trout fishing. Loch Erne is renowned as one of the best coarse fishing waters in the UK and is a regular venue for angling competitions. As well as brown trout, roach are plentiful, as are pike, salmon and perch. Shoreline fishing pegs are available at reasonable rates, while fly fishing is becoming increasingly popular.
Loch Erne is a great place for watersports such as rowing, canoeing and wakeboarding. Why not hire a rowing boat or Canadian canoe, stop off at an island or two and soak in the glorious scenery and peaceful surrounds. Half day and full-day rates for boats and canoes offer good value, however if you can extend your budget a bit further its possible to hire an outboard engine, giving you more scope to travel further afield.
The National Trust at Crom on Loch Erne have boat hire facilities including the Lady Erne that has a covered cab that provides shelter from unexpected rain showers. There are also more luxury cruises that tour the Loch waterways but they do tend to be quite expensive and are charged on a per person basis.
Museums, Nature Reserves and Parks in abundance
Make the most of the beautiful country parks in the Enniskillen area that offer free access and provide the perfect location for memorable days out. Castle Archdale Country Park is found on the shores of Lower Loch Erne, it has wonderful nature walks through flowering meadows, woodlands and along the shoreline where foxes and badgers can be spotted.
The impressive landscaped courtyard, pretty walled garden and sweat house are well worth looking around. Or take a magical walk through the ancient woods at Cladagh Glen, also known as the Marble Arch Nature Reserve, where the Cladagh River cascades down the steep sided gorge. Keep a look out for red squirrels and may be you will be lucky enough to see an elusive pine martin.
Families and children of all ages will enjoy rooting around the quirky Headhunters Barber Shop and Railway Museum in Enniskillen that combines a traditional barbers with an amazing display of Irish railway memorabilia. Whether you are a train enthusiast or not the fascinating exhibits, that include uniforms, signs, signalling instruments and railway tableware, are a rare treat.
While in the Enniskillen area travel over to nearby Omagh to visit the Ulster American Folk Park that brings alive the story of Irish emigration from the 18th and 19th century. This exciting outdoor museum really brings to life the trials and tribulations of emigrant’s daily activities in the New World, as well as in the Old World they left behind.
Admission is free for children under 4 and family group tickets help keep the costs down, with so much to see and do its well worth the admission price. Enter the Ulster thatched cottages, American Frontier log cabins and climb aboard the full scale emigrant sailing ship. Along the way meet costumed characters who demonstrate their traditional crafts, tell tales of their emigration experiences and have traditional food to sample.
Mighty Enniskillen Castle
A trip to Enniskillen would not be complete without a visit to Enniskillen Castle. The castle’s is in a splendid location beside the River Erne and was built over 600 years ago as the medieval stronghold of the Gaelic chiefs of County Fermanagh. Throughout its history it has been strategically important as it guards one of the few passes into Ulster. It has recently undergone major redevelopment and now houses 2 museums, The Inniskillings Military Museum and The Fermanagh County Museum.
The admission charge is fairly cheap as your ticket permits entry into both museums and there is plenty to see in both. In the Regimental museum listen to the stirring sound of bagpipes, bugle calls and regimental music and see the collection of army vehicles, look inside a medical officer’s tent from WWI or walk into the 1850s Inniskilling Dragoons’ Farriers’ shop. On the castle’s south side are the two distinctive turrets and on the east is the county museum with regional history, local crafts, culture and natural history exhibits.
Eating Out on a budget in Enniskillen
Watching the pennies on your day or weekend trip to Enniskillen doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the quality of dining out. There is an alluring choice of venues and cuisines from delicious homemade local dishes served at the Kissin Crust to ciabatta baguettes with a huge variety of tasty fillings from the Jolly Sandwich Bar. Treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea in the sumptuous surrounds of Florence Court Tearoom or Castle Coole Tearoom, where home-baked scones are served with lashings of cream.
Pop into the ice cream farm shop Tickety Moo and watch their award-winning pedigree Jersey cows being milked before sampling one of their 18 flavoured ice creams. Top flavours include Bubblegum Mallow, Liquorice and Blackcurrant, Jaffa Cake and Lemon Meringue. Good value meals are served in some of the local pubs and inns such as the Three Way Inn and Bush Bar where you can also experience friendly Irish hospitality. The oldest pub in Enniskillen is Magees Spirit Store and Bar, it is open 7 nights a week with live music and a great ‘craic’.
Pick up a bargain
Enniskillen’s shopping experience is second to none with its array of small independent traders offering unique products that are exclusive to the area. Call into The Buttermarket Craft and Design Courtyard in the heart of the town where local artists and crafts people sell their pottery, original art, ceramics, textiles and handmade jewellery.
Soak up the artisan atmosphere while enjoying a cappuccino and homemade cake from Rebecca’s Coffee Shop surrounded by the beautifully restored buildings of this 19th century dairy market. Saunter round some of Enniskillen’s galleries such as the well-known local artist Frances Morris Studio and Marjorie Leonard watercolour Art Gallery. Foodies will love the famed Stewart’s Butchers and Delicatessen, a third generation family business. It is famous for its high quality range of locally sourced meats cut on the block using traditional methods in view of the customer.
Low cost weekend hotels, inns and lodges
Good quality budget accommodation can be found in Enniskillen throughout the year. Try the Carrybridge Lakeside Lodge, Valley Hotel or Customs House Country Inn for cheap room rates. If you prefer the personal touch there are B&B options such as the Abocurragh Farmhouse offering mouth-watering traditional Irish breakfasts and lovely cottage-style bedrooms.
Special offers and out-of-season breaks can often be found at Clancys of Glenfare, Westville Hotel or Belmore Court & Motel located close to the city centre.