Great to be back with you to continue our weekly journey through our gorgeous Emerald Isle. This week it’s the turn of county Fermanagh, a stunning landscape of gentle waterways, tranquil lakes and hidden caves. Before we take a cruise around its many delights, we must pay a visit to a Fermanagh institution and one of our most iconic makers here at The Irish Store.
In 1857 on the banks of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, the inimitable Belleek Pottery was born, beginning an enduring legacy that continues to this day. When John Caldwell Bloomfield inherited his father’s estate in Belleek, Co Fermanagh, he wanted a way to employ all the tenants who had been badly affected by the Irish famine. After finding out that this land was rich in minerals and suitable for the production of pottery, John started what was to become the renowned Belleek brand. It was initially just domestic products, then a lot of earthenware utility products were produced during the first and second world wars. Since then Belleek has become one of Ireland’s most recognizable brands, producing high-end china pieces of distinction.
Here’s one of our customer favorites from The Irish Store. Featuring the signature basketweave design and delicately hand-painted lucky Irish shamrocks and the words “Himself” and “Herself” on each mug. The perfect gift from Ireland for the perfect match!
One Irish myth claims that Lough Erne came into existence when a woman named Erne who was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Meabh fled with her fellow maidens from a giant in Cruachan in county Roscommon. Fleeing north, they drowned in a river and their bodies dissolved to form Lough Erne. What’s certain is that Lough Erne is a truly magical place offering truly breathtaking scenery. A paradise for anglers and water sports fans, it also boasts the 5-star Lough Erne Resort and a world-class golf course.
Staying on Lough Erne, it’s time for a visit to the most notable of its 154 islands. Take a water taxi to Devenish Island and be transported to ancient Ireland. Founded in the 6th century by Saint Molaise, it began life as a monastic site. Over the centuries it was raided by Vikings and burned. It flourished in the Middle Ages as St Marys Augustinian Priory. You can still see buildings from the 12th century as well as the hilltop church and a stunning stone high cross dating back to the 15th century.
As you all know, in Ireland we have our fair share of castles and county Fermanagh boasts the greatest number of surviving 17th-century castle ruins in the country. On the banks of the River Erne in the bustling town of Enniskillen stands the magnificent Enniskillen Castle. It began life as the seat of the Gaelic Maguire clan and it’s museum charts it’s varied history through the ages.
Cuilcagh Mountain Park
The mountain park covers over 6000 acres on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain standing at 2188 feet. This is a wonderland for serious hikers and gentle walkers alike and at the summit of the mountain, you can enjoy breathtaking views, including one of the finest examples of a blanket bog in western Europe. At the heart of this stunning landscape lies the entrance to our final stop in this gorgeous county.
Marble Arch Caves
Considered to be among the most spectacular show caves in Europe, Marble Arch Caves and Geopark is an absolute must-see on any trip to Fermanagh. Take a subterranean cruise through this stunning underworld of rivers, waterfalls and passages and be well and truly wowed by the glittering formations of stalactites and stalactites.
So it’s goodbye to Fermanagh for now. Please join me next week for the next leg of our Irish trip and as always, thanks for stopping by!
Slán go fóill!
The Irish Store Founder