Enniskillen (Inis Ceithleann, "Ceithlenn's island") is the county town of County Fermanagh at the western edge of Northern Ireland. The town grew up on an island in the River Erne, which connects Upper and Lower Lough Erne and is navigable; boating and angling are major pastimes here. In 2011 Enniskillen had a population of 13,823.
Time was, every British schoolchild was taught (though swiftly forgot) about the Battle of Herrings (1429) and War of Jenkins' Ear (from 1739). They never heard of the Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits (1594) though in a sense it continues to affect British and Irish identities. The northwest of Ireland was the last part to come under London control, and the Nine Years War was a Gaelic resurgence. An English column were marching to lift the siege of Enniskillen Castle, but were ambushed. They lost 56 killed, 69 wounded, wagonloads of biscuits, and their military reputation. Their losses would have been greater had the Irish pursued, instead of gorging themselves on the biscuits.
The castle fell to the besiegers and the garrison were massacred, but England in the long term prevailed. In the 17th century the Gaelic chieftains fled into exile, Derry was walled against future uprisings, and Ulster was colonised with loyal Protestant settlers. Enniskillen became a garrison town, guarding the land route between the two Erne lakes. Its castle was kept in good repair against future troubles, including Napoleonic France. By 1921 the land east of the River Erne was majority Protestant, the west was mixed. At Partition all of County Fermanagh became part of Northern Ireland, while Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan joined the nascent Republic. Enniskillen brooded over a divided community, and during the Troubles lay near the porous border. There were 11 deaths from the Troubles up to 1987, then a bomb at a Remembrance Day Parade killed 12 - the last victim lay in a coma until 2000.
Industry and investment fled and has been slow to return with the peace accord. The silver lining is that there has been little industry or modern development, and the town retains its pleasant 19th century appearance.
Bus Éireann 30 / X30 runs from Dublin Busaras and airport via Virginia and Cavan Town, taking 2 hr 40 min to Enniskillen, and continuing to Belleek, Ballyshannon and Donegal Town. It runs daily every couple of hours. Some buses run via Belturbet.
Ulsterbus 94 runs five times Monday-Saturday from Omagh, taking just over an hour.
Ulsterbus 194 (a-j) runs north every hour or so to the hospital, Ballinamallard, Irvinestown, Lisnarick and Kesh, with one bus a day continuing to Pettigo on the border.
The 1 bus station is on Wellington Road in town centre.
By road from Belfast take M1 onto A4, maybe 1 hour 40 min.
By road from Dublin take M3 / N3 through Cavan, becoming A509 at the border, and reckon just over two hours.
Enniskillen is on the navigable River Erne, linked by waterways to the rest of Ireland: with your own boat you could even get here from Dublin, Waterford, Limerick and Athlone. Naturally there are limits on how far you may take a hired boat.
The town is compact. If you bring a car, park up at Erneside Shopping Centre and walk in, as town centre parking is limited and short-stay.
Rates in town (as of April 2021) are flagfall £2.30 then £1.30 a mile. They're usually waiting around the bus station and along the main street. Taxis in Northern Ireland are required to be registered. The taxis will display an additional plate on the front and rear bumpers showing vehicle info and drivers should have ID on display within the front of the taxi.
Taxis can be difficult to locate at weekends after a night out so it is recommended that you book a return taxi in advance if you need one. Most taxis will line up in The Diamond (Town Centre) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights but may be scarce towards the end of the night as the bars empty.
- A2B Cabs:, ☏ +44 28 6632 2033.
- County Cabs:, ☏ +44 28 6632 8888.
- Diamond Cabs:, ☏ +44 28 6632 8484.
- Speedia Cabs:, +44 28 6632 7327. 24hr
- Star Taxis:, ☏ +44 28 6632 3232. 24hr
397 a-c orbits town centre every couple of hours, via Coles Hill, Drumclay (for the hospital) and Breandrum.
- 1 Enniskillen Castle, Wellington Rd BT74 7HL, ☏ . M-F 9:30AM-5PM, Sa Su 11AM-5PM. There's been a castle here astride the Sligo road since the 14th century, and the picturesque watergate is from 1609, but what you see now is mostly 18th century when it was converted into a barracks. Most of the interior is a regimental museum for the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, founded in 1881 and amalgamated in 1968 into the Royal Irish Rangers (which in 1992 merged into the Royal Irish Regiment). Adult £5, child / conc £3.
- Castle Island in the river adjacent has a café and regular boats are available.
- 2 St Macartin's Cathedral, 2 Halls Lane BT74 7DR. 24 hours. Church of Ireland cathedral completed in 1842 as St Anne's but re-dedicated as St Macartin's in 1923 - Mac Cairthinn (d 506) was the first bishop of Clogher. There's a 150-foot tower and spire, with a peal of ten bells.
- 3 Headhunters Barber Shop & Railway Museum, 5 Darling Street, BT74 7DP, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 9AM-5:30PM. Enniskillen was once a regional rail hub, but the creation of the border and rise of the road meant all of Fermanagh's lines had closed by 1957. This unique-in-the-world salon boasts champion haircuts surrounded by one of the most impressive collections of Irish railway memorabilia. Museum free, haircuts optional.
- The town centre is mostly 19th century low-rise, along a main street of multiple names. St Michael's built in 1895 is the RC parish church, facing the cathedral. The Townhall was built in 1901.
- 4 Forthill Park is a pleasant green space east side of the centre. The monument commemorates Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole (1772-1842) who served with the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War. Within are 108 spiral steps up to a viewing balcony: this is open Sa Su 1-3PM.
- 5 Portora Castle, Castle Lane BT74 5GH. 24 hrs. This is just a scrappy remnant of an early 17th-century bastion guarding the ford at the head of Lower Lough Erne. It was abandoned in the 18th C when the owners moved to Florence Court. Victorian schoolboys wrecked it further with home-made gunpowder and tunnelling: get those handy lads recruited into the Sappers, quick!
- 6 Castle Coole, Enniskillen BT74 4QW, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 9AM-5PM. Grand neo-classical mansion built in the 1790s; designed to impress and it still does. It was transferred to the National Trust in 1951. You see the interior by guided tour: the grand state bedroom was intended for a visit by King George IV in 1821 but he dallied too long with his floozie and never showed up.
- 7 Devenish Island at the head of Lower Lough Erne has the extensive remains of a monastery, with a fine Round Tower and three medieval churches. You reach it by ferry from Trory Jetty facing the northeast end of the island, sailing hourly 10AM-5PM: July Aug daily, Sept Th-M, Oct Sa Su. Otherwise join a boat trip round the lough (see operators below), these generally spend 45 min on Devenish.
- 8 Florence Court, Marble Arch Road BT92 1DB (8 miles south of town), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-6PM. Elaborate bling-mansion built in fits and starts over the course of the 18th century. It transferred to the National Trust in 1953 but suffered a fire in 1955: not all rooms have been restored. There's an attractive walled garden.
- See Belcoo for Marble Arch Caves near Florence Court, and religious sites in the village of Boho.
- 9 south side of Lower Lough Erne has a scenic drive and forest trails. It's open, free, 10AM to sunset.
- What's on? Listen to Q Radio[dead link] on 101.2 / 102.1 FM or read Fermanagh Herald or Impartial Reporter.
- Gaelic games: Fermanagh GAA play football and hurling at Brewster Park, capacity 18,000, half a mile north of town centre.
- IMC Cinema is on Factory Road between the GAA ground and Racecourse Lough. The racecourse itself closed in 1906.
- 1 Ardhowen Theatre, 97 Dublin Road BT34 6FZ, ☏ . In a modern building by the marina, they stage drama, music, opera and dance.
- Enniskillen Golf Course is next to Castle Coole. It's an 18-hole parkland course, yellow tees 6145 yards, par 71, visitor £20.
- There's another course at Lough Erne Resort, see Sleep.
- Church services include those at Graan Monastery or St Gabriel's Retreat off A46 3 miles northwest of town. The priestly Order are the "Passionists" founded in 1720. The buildings are early 20th century and unremarkable so you'd only come to attend the church.
- Boat trips putter round Lower Lough Erne and Devenish Island, daily June-Aug and weekends May and Sept, adult £10. The main operator is Erne Tours, sailing from Round O Jetty in Brook Park. Erne Water Taxi does bespoke tours for up to 8: they sail from the castle jetty.
- Boat hire is available from Erne Boat Hire Ltd. The boats can take six adults, a four-hour hire is £60. They're at Regal Pass Jetty near the bus station. The boats are easy to self-drive but remember: never hug the shore, pay close regard to the map and to navigation markers, and beware the weather in the open lough - it's aligned with the prevailing breeze so the waves can get rough. Castle Archdale also hire but they're 10 miles north near Kesh.
- Boat holidays with extended hire are available through agencies such as Waterways Holidays. You can explore the lower and upper loughs: they might jib if you head off down into the Shannon, but the navigable network reaches the length and breadth of Ireland.
- Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival is a literary festival in July. Dates for 2022 are tba.
- Lough Erne Food Festival is at the castle and other venues in September. The next is 12-19 Sept 2021.
- Erneside Shopping Centre is the main mall in the town centre, by the bus station.
- Buttermarket off Market Street is a pleasant quarter, with crafts and traditional wares.
- Derrychara Link is the big retail park southeast off Dublin Road, with Asda (open 24 hrs midweek) and Tesco.
- Dunnes Stores is a national retailer selling groceries, clothing and homewares.
- Ruby's Coffee Bar, 15 Townhall St BT74 8BD, ☏ . Coffee and light bites.
- Franco's, Queen Elizabeth Rd BT74 7DY, ☏ . Daily noon-10:45PM. Friendly place does modern Italian cuisine.
- Dollakis, 2 Cross St BT74 7DX, ☏ . Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM. Greek, just for a change.
- Horseshoe & Saddlers, 66 Belmore St BT74 6AA, ☏ . M-Sa 1-11PM, Su 1-10PM. Horseshoe is the pub, Saddlers the restaurant, with trad Irish offerings.
- Blakes of the Hollow, 6 Church St BT74 7EJ, ☏ . Daily 11AM-1AM. Atmospheric old pub with 3 different bar areas and nightclub.
- Pat's Bar, 1-5 Townhall St BT74 7BD, ☏ . Daily 10AM-1:30AM. 4 bars over two floors and a disco area.
- Charlie's Bar, 1 Church Street BT74 1DW, ☏ . M-W 11:30AM-11PM, F Sa 11:30-1AM, Su 12:30PM-midnight. Friendly traditional Irish bar.
- Crowe's Nest, 12 High Street BT74 7EH, ☏ . Daily 10AM-11PM. Pub and restaurant, often has live Irish music on Tues nights.
- Cornerstone Bar, 1 Queen St BT74 7JR, ☏ . Daily 10AM-midnight. Good atmosphere and conversation.
- Corner Bar, 22 Townhall St BT74 7BA, ☏ . Daily 9:30AM-11:30PM. Friendly cosy pub near bus station.
- Lough Inn, 1 The Brook BT74 7EU, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-11:30PM, F Sa 11:30AM-1:30AM, Su 12:30PM-12:30AM. Welcoming pub with live Irish music Saturday evenings.
- Magees Bar (Magee's Spirit Store), 21 East Bridge Street, ☏ . 24 hrs. Lively pub, trad music Monday nights.
- Willie Ramblers, 14 Forthill St, ☏ . W-Sa noon-1:30AM, Su noon-midnight. Trad pub, does food.
- Sheelin Brewery is in Bellanaleck 5 km south of town. No tours.
- 1 Enniskillen Hotel, 72 Forthill St BT74 6AJ, ☏ . Good midrange place near town centre. B&B double £70.
- 2 Westville Hotel, 14-20 Tempo Rd BT74 6HR, ☏ . Smart place east side of town with 28 rooms and good food. B&B double £90.
- Belmore Court & Motel, Tempo Rd BT74 6HX (facing Westville Hotel), ☏ . Well-run place, 15 mins walk to town. B&B double £110.
- 3 Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges, Dublin Rd BT74 6RW, ☏ , email@example.com. 4-star hotel and spa on riverside a mile south of town. B&B double £150.
- 4 Riverside Farm, 38 Derrylin Rd BT92 2FN, ☏ . The farm has B&B, self-catering, caravan pitches (but no camping) and moorings for boats. B&B double £70, Tourer £12.50.
- 5 Lough Erne Resort, 193 Lough Shore Road BT93 7ED, ☏ . Swish hotel in great lakeside setting with spa and golf. B&B double from £160.
As a very tourist driven town, people are generally friendly and will help you with directions and personal recommendations of where to eat and drink. The official language in Northern Ireland is English with Irish and Ulster Scots considered unofficial, or regional languages, so you will see signs in the town with all three languages. Few in the area speaks Irish or Ulster Scots in day to day life so English is the only language you need. As Fermanagh is a very rural county accents and dialects can differ considerably between those from urban areas and those from the countryside. People can have a tendency to speak quickly however generally slow down if asked or they sense you have a hard time understanding them.
Enniskillen also has a significant Eastern European population, the largest being Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian so it is common to hear these languages around the area too.
Enniskillen has been awarded Purple Flag status which is a UK and Irish initiative similar to the Blue Flag system seen on beaches. The Purple Flag scheme recognises excellence in the management of town and city centres at night. There is normally a small Police presence around the town centre on busy nights as well as CCTV located throughout the town. there are also numerous 'Help Points' (intercom boxes which can be used in an emergency). Note that Help Points are for emergencies only, not for public information or directions.
The county of Fermanagh is quite conservative when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. There are practically no gay scenes in Northern Ireland outside of the main cities of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. There have been attacks on local members of the LGBTQ+ community in the past although, as of 2022, there are plans to host the towns first ever Gay Pride parade.
Take extreme care if entering the waters around the town, lives have been lost due to the strong currents, usually as a result of intoxication.
As of April 2021, Enniskillen has 4G from all UK carriers. 5G has not reached this area.
- Belcoo on the border has limestone scenery above and below ground, with Marble Arch Caves.
- Belleek has a famous pottery factory.
- Omagh has the Ulster American Folk Museum.
- Lisnaskea has the grounds of Crom Estate.
- Belturbet and Ballyconnell in County Cavan are quiet places for boating and angling.
|Routes through Derry|
|Sligo ← Belcoo ←||W E||→ Dungannon → Belfast|
|Omagh ← Irvinestown ←||N S||→ continues as → Swanlinbar → Belturbet|
|Ballyshannon ← Belleek ←||NW SE||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Belturbet → Dublin|