Fermanagh Gold Introduction
BELLE ISLE, Lisbellaw

Associated Families: GORE, PORTER, BAIRD

A house beautifully situated on an island in Upper Lough Erne; the seat of a distinguished C18 soldier, Sir Ralph Gore, 6th Bt, 1st and last Earl of Ross and Viscount Belleisle, who was C-in-C in Ireland 1788. Bought early in C19 by Rev. J.G. Porter.

The present house seems to incorporate a 2 storey C18 range with a 3 sided bow at one end, to which a range of 1820-30 was added at right angles, with a staircase hall, top-lit by an octangular lantern, in the re-entrant.

The house was remodeled post 1880 in the plain English Tudor manor-house style made popular by Norman Shaw and his disciples; producing a gabled entrance front with mullioned windows, a projecting porch and a tall, church-like battlemented tower at the corner of the 1820-30 range. The latter range, which is the garden front facing the lough, remains unaltered, apart from having Victorian plate-glass windows; at one end is the end bow of C18 range, with Georgian astragals. Inside the house, arches were opened up between the staircase hall and the rooms at either end of it, to make a much larger hall; the staircase hall was also widened at the expense of the rooms in 1830-30 range, the old wall being replaced by a massive oak beam. an oak staircase with barleysugar balusters replaced the original stairs' the walls were paneled in oak, or decorated with half-timbering. The octangular ceiling lantern, however, was left undisturbed. 

The drawing room, in 1820-1830 range, was redecorated, having been reduced in width, and given a chimneypiece of old oak carving, possibly of more than one period and nationality. The room extending into the bow of C18 range, which is now the drawing room, was given a stone Tudor fireplace; but it still keeps its original doors with shouldered C18 architraves.

In 1907 the entrance front was prolonged by a wing in Tudor style containing a long and lofty gallery, with a timbered roof, an elaborate Tudor fireplace and overmantel and a minstrels' gallery, the balustrade of which has slender turned uprights and would appear to be late C17 or early C18 woodwork brought from elsewhere. At this end of the entrance porch stands a pedimented and gable-ended office wing which would appear to date from quite early in C18.

After the death of N.H.A. Porter in 1973, Belle Isle was inherited by his niece, Miss Lavinia Baird.


Source: Burke's Guide to Country Houses: Volume I Ireland pp. 38