Fermanagh Gold Introduction

Fermanagh, an inland county in the province of Ulster, is bounded on the north by Donegal and Tyrone, on the east by Tyrone and Monaghan, on the south by Cavan and on the west by Cavan and Leitrim. It’s length from near Rosslea to the north-west boundary near Beleek is 45 miles, and its breadth from north-east to south-west is 29 miles.

Name and Former Divisions
The name of the county is derived from the tribe called Fir-Monach. Monach who was fifth in descent from Cahirmore, King of Ireland from A.D. 120 to 123, settled on the coast of Lough Erne towards the end of the third century, and his descendants eventually spread themselves over the entire county. For several centuries the county belonged to the family of Maguire, and hence was known as the "Maguire’s Country." The ancient name of Enniskillen was "Inis-Cethlenn," so called from the island of Kethlenda, whoh was the wife of the famous mythical hero "Balor of the Mighty Blows," chief of the sea robbers called Formorians. Bellisle was formerly called Ballymacmanus or Senat Macmanus, after the family of Macmanus, its owners.

Here lived Cahal Maguire, Dean of Clogher in the 15th century, one of the greatest of Irish Scholars and Historians: his "Annals of Ulster" is one of the most valuable works dealing with Irish history. "Tooraw" was the ancient name of that part of the county which lies between Lough Melvin and Lough Erne. The Baronies of Clankelly and Clanawley are named after the tribes which inhabited these districts.

Physical Features
The chain of lakes formed by the two Loughs Erne practically divides the county into two halves. On either side of the lakes the ground is level for one or two miles, but the greater part of the remainder of the county is hilly. The Upper Lough Erne and the Lower Lough Erne are connected by the river Erne, the distance between the two being about eight miles. The Upper lake is about 10 miles long and has an average breadth of about two miles; its coast line is very much broken and it contains many small islands. The lower lake is about 18 miles in length, and is about 5 ½ miles at its greatest breadth. The other larger lakes are Lower Lough Macnean or Lough Nilly, a small portion of which is in Co. Cavan, and Upper Lough Macnean, 4 ½ miles long. Only a small portion of Lough Melvin is in the county.

Drumgay Lake, two miles north of Enniskillen is remarkable for a number of "crannoges" a name given to old island habitations. There are many smaller lakes scattered throughout the county.

The two highest Mountain summits, namely Cullcagh (2,188) and Tiltinbane (1,949) stand on the south-west boundary, and run into Cavan. Six miles west of Enniskillen stands Belmore Mountain (1,312) remarkable for some ancient sepulchral monuments, and near by is Ora More (854). Knockmore Cliff (919), near Derrygonnelly, is remarkable for its caves and the ancient inscriptions which they contain. Close by stands Trustia (989). Shean North (1,135) rises precipitously from Lough Erne, and near by is Drumbad (1,009). In the south of the county is Slieve Rushen (1,269) and Knockninny (628), a picturesque hill. On the eastern side of the lakes, starting from the south-east are Slieve Beagh which belongs partly to Fermanagh, Tyrone and Monaghan, the principal summit of this range is Dooharn (1,255) entirely in this county. Carnmore (1,034) lies east of Lisnaskea, Brocker (1,056) and Topped (909) near Tempo. Tappaghan (1,122) is the principal summit in the north.

The principal river in the county is the Erne which forms a very fine cascade near the town of Beleek: it has several small tributaries running into it from the hills on either side. The Woodford river forms part of the boundary, between Fermanagh and Cavan before it falls into Upper Lough Erne.

The Clodagh or Swanlinbar river and the Arney also flow into Upper Lough Erne. The Sillees joins the Erne above Enniskillen, and the Roogagh flows west into Lough Melvin. On the north-east side of the county the Colebrooke River flows by Maguiresbridge into Lough Erne, and the Tempo river joins it a mile below the town. The Ballinamard river flows by the town of that name into Lower Lough Erne, and into the same lake flow the Kesh, past Ederney and Kesh, the Bannagh and the Termon River flowing by Pettigo.

The islands of the two Loughs Erne are very numerous and of various sizes. In the Upper Lake the chief islands are Innismore Cleanish, Traunish, Inishcorkish, Naan and Belleisle. In the Lower Lake, Boa is 4 ½ miles long, and the other islands are Lustymore, Lustybeg, Cruninish, Hare, Crevinshaughy, Inishmakill and Inishmacsaint which contains an ancient church ruin. Two miles below Enniskillen stands the island of Devinish.

Published here with full permission of Jane Lyons