When it comes to castles, the island of Ireland is a goldmine. From county to county, you will find plenty of epic castles, whether in ruins or in use, that will make you feel like you are in another time.
The county of Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, in particular, is home to remarkable displays of peaceful landscapes and beautiful scenery, making it the perfect place for castles to dwell. Many castles sit within this county that is one-third water, where history runs as deep as the Fermanagh Lakelands.
From stately palaces to castle ruins, this is our rundown of the five best castles in County Fermanagh.
5. Enniskillen Castle – for riverside charm and history
Sitting in the town centre of picturesque Enniskillen is this 17th-century castle that was once the “Gateway to Ulster.” Since it was built 600 years ago on the shores of the River Erne, the castle has played an important role throughout history.
Nowadays, it is home to two fascinating museums: Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum, where visitors can take a walk through the local history of Fermanagh.
Throughout the year, the castle plays host to many events, such as lectures, craft fairs, literature performances and family entertainment, so any time of the year is perfect to visit one the best castles in County Fermanagh.
Visitors can avail of the “Pilgrim Pass,” which allows entry to Enniskillen Castle and access to Devenish Island, a monastic site that dates back to prehistoric times.
Address: Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
4. Castle Coole – for Neo-classical palace vibes
On the outskirts of Enniskillen town, the National Trust-owned Castle Coole was designed to wow. This Neo-classical palace is one of Ireland’s finest, and the exterior alone leaves a lasting impression.
But it’s possible to see the inside too, via a guided tour. While the Earl of Belmore privately owns part of the house, the tour does show off the grandeur of the entrance hall, library, dining room, drawing room, and bedrooms, sitting as they were 300 years ago.
On the beautiful estate, there are walking trails and shops to enjoy. Castle Coole offers two idyllic walking trails: the Lake Trail and the Beech Trail. When hunger strikes, visit the Tallow House Tea Room, neighboured with the gift shop and second-hand book shop.
Address: Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
3. Belle Isle Castle and Estate – for an immersive day out
What makes this place one of the best castles in County Fermanagh is the fact that it’s entirely private for those who visit. Spread over 400 acres and eight separate islands, this a site where couples, families, and friends can spend their days enjoying the available activities, lake views, formal and wildflower gardens, and, of course, the striking castle.
Visitors can choose to stay in one of four places: the castle, a courtyard apartment, the coach house cottage, or a holiday cottage. The estate is only accessible to those who are staying; however, wedding parties are an exception.
Those who visit Belle Isle Estate leave their worries behind as they enter via the single-track lane and immerse themselves in a truly unique experience.
Address: 10 Belle Isle Demense, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
2. Castle Caldwell – for fairy-tale forest ruins
On a peninsula of lower Lough Erne, Castle Caldwell Forest Park boasts outstanding views of the lake’s shores and a castle. While it would now be impossible to stay at Castle Caldwell, the sight of the old castle ruins is one to leave a lasting impression and sits surrounded by ancient woodland.
With three walking routes, picnic areas, water activities, and a picturesque jetty, there’s plenty to see and do here as well.
Castle Caldwell is located 5 miles from the village of Belleek and holds a significant link to the world-famous Belleek Pottery, as it was at Castle Caldwell that owner and namesake, James Caldwell found the rich minerals in 1662.
Address: A47, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
1. Crom Castle and Estate – for a romantic, tranquil estate
On the upper side of Lough Erne, Crom Castle and Estate sits 2,000 acres wide. While the estate is owned by the National Trust, Crom Castle is privately owned by the Earl of Erne, and the West Wing is only available for organised parties.
However, it’s the old castle ruins and surrounding estate that hold incredible points of interest. The castle was destroyed in 1764, but walls and towers were added in the 19th Century to adapt to the already romantic and tranquil estate.
Next to the old castle sit two of Ireland’s oldest Yew trees, one of which is debated to be 1,000 years old. It’s a must to sit under their branches, lost in another world. The entire estate is a conservation area for wildlife, which can be seen from taking one of the many walking trails.
For instance, walk along a beautiful boathouse, across the White Bridge, and on to Inisherk Island to see Fermanagh’s swimming cows! Visitors are also able to stay at Crom, with the choice of holiday cottages, a campsite, or award-winning glamping pods.
Address: Newtownbutler, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Each castle in Fermanagh holds unique and varying features. Why not turn your Fermanagh castle tour into a road trip, exploring the Fermanagh Lakelands, unique villages, and beautiful landscapes, and find the castle perfect for you?
By Bethany Kyle