Belcoo is a border village historically in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland; these counties have been abolished and it's now part of Omagh and Fermanagh District. In Irish Béal Cú means "mouth of the narrows" referring to the little river that drains Upper into Lower Lough MacNean. In 2011 its population was 540.
Blacklion on the south bank of that river is in County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland. Since 1998 the border has been open and unpatrolled, so Blacklion and Belcoo are a single community for practical purposes. The area's main attraction is its limestone scenery, both above and below ground.
Ulsterbus 64 also runs twice a day between Enniskillen and Belcoo.
The bus stops either side of the border are on the main road to Sligo: in Belcoo by Loughview Drive, and in Blacklion at the bend in Main Street.
By car take A4 from Enniskillen and N16 from Manorhamilton and Sligo.
You need a car to reach the area's scattered attractions.
If you cross the border, it's your own responsibility to check that your personal and car documents are valid - the rules changed in 2021.
- 1 St Patrick's Holy Well is a natural spring feeding a pool, cold and fresh from the limestone depths. It's tenuously associated with the saint and is supposed to have all sorts of healing properties, so this is the place to come if your cattle suffer from murrain, redwater, milk fever, spine disease or elf-shot. The pool is still a pilgrimage site, cluttered with religious kitsch.
- 2 Marble Arch Caves, 43 Marlbank Rd, Florencecourt BT92 1EW, ☏ . Closed ufn. Cave system of 11.5 km, the longest in Northern Ireland, formed by the confluence of three underground rivers. It's now an extensive show cave, visit by guided tour. Adult £10, child £5.
- 3 Cladagh Glen is the scenic dell of the river flowing out of Marble Arch Caves.
- 4 Florence Court: see Enniskillen for this grand 18th century mansion.
- Glenfarne forest park is 5 km west, see Manorhamilton.
- 5 Cavan Burren Park is an area of karstic landscape, open daily 08:00-dusk, free. Giant's Leap Wedge Tomb 500 m east of the Visitor Centre is the best-preserved of the megaliths in the area. "Burren" simply means barren and stony, so it's a common placename, best known being The Burren of County Clare.
- 6 Shannon Pot is the source of Ireland's great river, reached by a 500 m hike from the car park on R206 towards Corrbeg and Glengavlen. The Shannon flows southwest to enter County Leitrim at Dowra then into Lough Allen. From there south is navigable all the way to Limerick.
- 7 Boho sounds like a gentrified district of Boston but means "bothies" or huts. It's a tiny village with several prehistoric and early Christian sites. The High Cross in Sacred Church graveyard is probably 10th century, and on the hill behind are Reyfad Stones, with inscriptions similar to those at Brú Na Bóinne. There are extensive caves in the hills. Legend tells that Flanagan of Toora refused to pay tribute to the stewards of the King of Fermanagh, saying the king's wealth was safer in his keeping than theirs. The sly fellow may have had a point, but it was the cue for much mayhem and cartoon-chases back and forth with and without cattle across the bogs and heaths of Boho.
- Golf: Blacklion Golf Course is nine holes, by the shore of Lough MacNean. 18 holes is 5858 metres, par 72.
- 1 Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, 43 Marlbank Rd, Florencecourt BT92 1ER, ☏ . 4 km boardwalk over the blanket bog, with a final steep stairway to a viewpoint. It's a protected habitat so you may not leave the boardwalk, eg to reach the summit of Cuilcagh. No dogs in bogs, okay to bring sprogs. Parking £5.
- 2 Corralea Activity Centre, 184 Lattone Rd, Belcoo BT93 5DZ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. They organise various activities on and around the two loughs and have accommodation.
- 3 Polnagollum Cave is a 7 km walking trail along forest tracks, not a show cave. You peer down into the cave but it's flooded, so cavers must swim several sections. It's not named for Tolkien's Gollum: Poll na gColm means "pigeon-hole" and is a common name for caves in Ireland.
- Other caves riddle the entire area, the major systems being Reyfad–Glenkeel, Noon's Hole–Arch Cave and Boho Caves. They're only for suitably skilled cavers, and by the landowner's permission.
- Spar on Belcoo Main St is open M-Sa 07:30-22:00, Su 09:00-21:00 and has an ATM within.
- Jack's Bar, 15 Main St, Belcoo BT93 5FB (by Customs House), ☏ . Daily 11:00-00:00. Village pub, serves food.
- Chippy is a fish & chips takeaway on Blacklion Main St.
- McNean House, Main St, Blacklion, ☏ . Fining dining, also has rooms.
- The Well Bar is on Railway St, Belcoo, corner with Main St.
- 1 Customs House Country Inn, 25-27 Main Street, Belcoo BT93 5FB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Smart midrange place 200 yards north of the border, good restaurant. B&B double £90.
- Bellavista B&B off Belcoo Main St wasn't open in early 2021.
- 2 Rushin House Caravan Park, Belcoo BT93 5DU, ☏ . Well-run site on north shore of Lough MacNean, open Mar-Oct. Tent £20, caravan £27.
As of March 2021, Belcoo has a poor signal from all the UK and Irish carriers. 5G has not reached this area.
- Enniskillen is the main town in the area, with a ramshackle castle, and stately homes in the countryside.
- Manorhamilton in County Leitrim is surrounded by historic and prehistoric sites. Scenic glens lead west to Sligo.
- Cavan Town is at the centre of the drumlin belt, where dozens of islets dot the lakes.