Your one-stop hub of information about Lough Erne including facts, things to do and where to stay.
Your one-stop hub of information about Lough Erne including facts, things to do and where to stay.
Lough Erne is the second biggest lake system in Northern Ireland and Ulster. It is also the fourth biggest on the island of Ireland. Situated in County Fermanagh, Lough Erne actually consists of two lakes that connect together, which are widened sections of the River Erne that flow north and then curve west into the Atlantic.
The two lakes differ in size: the Upper Lough is the smaller one (19 km in length), and Lower Lough is the bigger one (42 km in length). Collectively, Lough Erne is 40 miles (64 km) long, boasting an average width of five miles (eight km) and a maximum depth of 200 feet (60 m).
Located on the short stretch of the river between the lakes is the quaint town of Enniskillen, a place where locals and tourists frequent for staycations and rural getaways to the countryside. There are several other neighbouring lakeside towns and villages, including Belleek, Kesh, Killadeas, Belturbet, Pettigo, Derrylin, Trory and Ballycassidy. Lough Erne has more than 150 islands, along with many coves and inlets, making it a fantastic place to explore for locals and tourists alike.
Lough Erne comes with an extensive and impressive history.
One example of this is during the Second World War, Royal Air Force station Castle Archdale was based on Lough Erne. Here, it provided an essential airbase for the Battle of the Atlantic and the battle against U-boats.
A secret agreement with the Irish Government permitted flying boats based there to fly West straight across neutral Ireland to the Atlantic, avoiding the two-hour detour that would have been necessary for aeroplanes based in Northern Ireland. This is just one example of the many ways Ireland assisted the allies while remaining neutral.
You can visit Castle Archdale Countryside Centre and War Museum to learn more about the role this part of the world played during the war. The exhibitions are fascinating and wide-ranging, showcasing collections of old parts of aeroplanes, fuel tanks, documents and much more.
Lough Erne contains many small islands and peninsulas, some of the best known being:
Devenish Island, also known as the Isle of Oxen, is about one and a quarter miles long and two-thirds of a mile wide. It was a holy place of worship, scholarship and burial that welcomed pilgrims and residents for work and prayer. It was also a safe meeting place for powerful chieftains and religious leaders, and thus was given the name ‘Devenish of the Assemblies’.
Its 70 or so acres supported a sixth-century monastic site founded by St Molaise, which was raided by Vikings and burned in the twelfth century, but it rose again to flourish in the Middle Ages.
Many venture to Devenish Island to take in the tranquil atmosphere and think about the history that filled this landscape in the centuries before. The remains of the buildings you see today date from the 12th, 13th and 15th centuries. Remnants of the island’s earlier history remain hidden beneath your feet. When you visit, expect to see ruins such as St Molaise’s Church, St Mary’s Abbey, and a round tower – and feel the eerie echoes of the Island’s rather turbulent 1,500-year history.
Devenish Island can be found just outside Enniskillen, County Fermanagh approximately one and a half miles by car, followed by a short boat trip. Ferry trips can be booked through Castle Archdale Country Park.
White Island is situated in Castle Archdale Bay off the east shore of Lower Lough Erne. It is renowned for being home to the ruins of an ancient church, built on the site of a sixth-century monastic settlement.
Inside the ruins live a group of mysterious carved figures and a still-intact arched Romanesque doorway – all of which are State Care Historic Monuments that intrigue many to visit. The carvings are thought to have been seized during a Viking raid in the ninth century before being discovered by workmen 400 years later. They then used them in the construction of the now-ruined church.
The island is accessed by ferry from the marina in Castle Archdale Country Park, near Irvinestown.
Boa Island is located near the north shore of Lower Lough Erne, which is accessible by road bridge.
Boa was named after Badhbh (pronounced ‘Bive’), an ancient goddess of war, which seems at odds with this idyll surrounding.
At Caldragh Cemetery you’ll find a tiny graveyard that boasts two of the most enigmatic statues on the island of Ireland. The largest of the figures is the Boa Island bilateral figure. It is regarded as one of the most enigmatic and remarkable stone figures in Ireland. It is called a Janus figure because it has two faces, reminding some of the Roman two-headed deity Janus, however, it is not a representation of Janus. It is thought to represent a Celtic deity and could represent a Celtic goddess as readily as a god, especially given the name of the island.
On the top of the bilateral figure is carved a deep indentation of unknown purpose, where tourists often place small mementoes such as coins in it for good luck.
From Fermanagh Town take the A32 North, then the B82 for about 10 kilometres then drive onto Boa Island (sign-posted).
Of all the islands of Lough Erne, the largest islands are Inishmore (at the northern end of Upper Lough Erne) and Galloon Island at the lower end of Upper Lough Erne. The next largest is Boa Island, within Lower Lough Erne. All three of these comprise multiple townlands. Many of the next largest islands constitute a single townland.
Islands in the lower lake include Cleenishmeen Island, Crevinishaughy Island, Cruninish Island, Ely Island, Goat Island, Horse Island, Inish Doney, Inish Fovar, Inish Lougher, Inish More or Davy’s Island, Inis Rath, Inishmacsaint, Inishmakill, Lustybeg Island, Lustymore Island and White Island.
Those in the upper lake include Bleanish Island, Crehan Island, Dernish Island, Inishcorkish, Inishcrevan, Inishfendra, Inishleague, Inishlught, Inishrath, Inishturk, Killygowan Island, Naan Island and Trannish.
Several of the islands are privately owned and occasionally come on to the open market.
Lough Erne is full of tourist attractions and activities, including:
The Faldo Championship Golf Course was designed by six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo and offers superb all-year-round playing conditions.
The spectacular Fermanagh Lakelands setting provides a stunning backdrop to the course. There are stunning views from every vantage point and the waters of the Lough come into play on 11 of the 18 holes.
A top 100 course in the UK and Ireland – it measures 7,071 yards from the tips and is a Par 72. The course record of 68 was set by Rory McIlroy (touring professional 2009-2011) and still remains unbeaten.
Whether it be for society outings, tournaments, corporate and fundraising events or for those who just want to experience 18 of the very best golf holes in Ireland, the Faldo Course is a must-play venue where you will remember every hole and every shot. Each hole has been individually named in line with its individual traits and a tribute to the local area and each is beautifully framed in the natural landscape.
The Lough Erne Yacht Club sits on the eastern shore of Lower Lough Erne, on Gublusk Bay. It is a clubhouse that offers full facilities, including jetties and moorings to accommodate sailing as well as motorised boats of varying sizes.
At Lough Erne, visitors can expect unspoiled sailing and cruising waters. The lake is not congested like many other waterways, meaning you can cruise or sail for hours without the worry of meeting another vessel. There is no commercial traffic other than several sightseeing tours which are there to enjoy the nature-lovers paradise that is Lough Erne.
Lough Erne’s many bays, inlets and islands are within a short distance of the Yacht Club, making it a great departure spot for exploring the fascinating and stunning surroundings of the lake.
Whether you want to sail or waterski – there’s no better way to enjoy the natural beauty of Lough Erne.
With over 300 square miles of water, Lough Erne is one of the finest coarse fishing waters in Europe, and has become popular as a competition venue for anglers.
With its many loughs and rivers, the Fermanagh Lakelands offer game and coarse anglers the opportunity to fish for a range of species. For game anglers, expect to find salmon and wild brown trout as well as stocked rainbow trout. The famous sonaghan, ferox and gillaroo can also be found in these diverse waters. Coarse anglers will enjoy the chance to find bream, pike, roach, pollan, perch, tench and many more.
Enniskillen is full of specialist tackle and bait shops. Here, you can get equipped with the latest in lures, reels, and rods so you can truly enjoy the Fermanagh angling experience.
Some great fishing spots at Lough Erne include:
The Navar Lakes comprise three main lakes: the Achork, Meenameen and Glencreawan. These lakes are located in nearby Derrygonnelly, with the Achork and Meenameen Lakes having a high number of brown trout, while the Glencreawan Lake has a mix of brown and rainbow trout. For experienced anglers who want to do fly fishing, spinning and worm fishing – the Achork and Meenameen Lakes would be the best options. Glencreawan Lake provides the best results for fly fishing only.
Located in Belcoo, Lough Scolban is full of pike fish, with some weighing up to 9 kg, as well as plenty of perch and roach which tend to be on the smaller size. Trout and bream are occasionally found in this lake, too.
At Lower Lough Erne, which is best accessed from Enniskillen, the mayfly makes its appearance in mid-May and continues for three to four weeks. So if you are into fly fishing, this is the perfect time of year to book a fishing break at Lough Erne.
Blessingbourne Estate, which is located near Fivemiletown, is home to a large stately Manor House which offers peaceful walks and exciting bike trails for all visitors to enjoy. The main attraction for anglers are the two Blessingbourne Lakes which sit amongst the woodland within the estate. The larger lake is around three metres deep and is best known for its specimen pike, perch, roach and rudd fishing. If you wish to fish on the Blessingbourne Lakes, you must first have the Landowner’s permission prior to arrival.
Note: all locations mentioned above require a full fishing licence from The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
When staying in Fermanagh, its best to stay by the water to make the most of your time here and ensure a truly relaxing, tranquil experience. The Lodge at Lough Erne Resort offers guests luxury self-catering with an exclusive ‘home from home’ experience.
The French chalet-style three-bedroom property sleeps up to six adults and two kids (using sofa bed at additional charge), making it an ideal choice for groups and families looking for a place to unwind after a fun-filled rural getaway.
Nestled within grounds of Northern Ireland’s first Tourism NI and AA 5 Star Resort, Lough Erne, The Lodge directly overlooks Castle Hume Lough and the fourth green of the renowned Faldo Championship Golf Course.
Guests can make themselves at home as soon as they step in the door. The Lodge is a comfortable, beautifully designed holiday home featuring modern interiors. Highlights include: three spacious bedrooms, a large open plan kitchen and a dining area which opens out onto a paved patio area with outdoor furniture, a spacious living area and utility room.
Conveniently located a short walk away from the Lough Erne Resort; guests of The Lodge at Lough Erne can enjoy the luxury Resort’s facilities at an additional charge. These include: the Thai Spa, fitness suite, a variety of dining experiences with menus curated by acclaimed chef Noel McMeel, two championship golf courses and the chance to perfect skills at The Golf Academy.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s included on-site at The Lodge at Lough Erne:
The Lodge At Lough Erne is a pleasant stroll away from the five-star Lough Erne Resort, where guests can enjoy the Resort’s luxury facilities during their stay for an additional charge.
On the ground floor of The Lodge, there is a full-size kitchen/dining room with full self-catering facilities including a dishwasher. The dining area seats six beside a gas fire and 50 inch Smart TV. There are also two bedrooms (one twin room and one double room) along with a bathroom and a utility room.
Upstairs, you will find the living room that comfortably seats eight people with panoramic views of the fourth green in front of the Lough Erne Golf Resort. Another gas fire and Smart TV can are available for guests to use. The master bedroom, ensuite and sofa bed are also located on this floor.
You can find the Lodge at Lough Erne five minutes away from Enniskillen (St Angelo) Private Airport. It is a 90-minute drive from Belfast International and Belfast City Airport, and 120 minutes from Dublin Airport.