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The Castle Coole Estate.

County Fermanagh.

 

Castle Coole House.
 
 

(Corner, secluded place, nook.)

The present Castle Coole estate dates from 1611 when Roger Atkinson was granted an estate of 1,000 plantation acres called Coole. Atkinson and his family took up residence on the estate building a castle and bawn, the property came to be known in the first half of the century as Castle Atkinson.

In 1640 Atkinson sold the estate to an Arthur Champion, Champion who had an estate in County Monaghan, Shannock was killed there the following year. During the rebellion of 1641 Castle Atkinson was destroyed by fire.

In 1646 the estate was leased to Emery Hill, reportedly a brewer of Westminster, Hill then leased it to Henry Gilbert who had married Arthur Champion's widow. In 1656 the property was bought by John Corry for £860. Corry was a a Belfast merchant of Scottish origin.

The property together with the estate is a mere fraction of its original size, extending to 32 ha (79 acres) it was given to the National Trust by the Ulster Land Fund in 1951, and is open to the public during the summer season. After the National Trust had the property for some time it was discovered that the facing was starting to come away from the building in places, the facing stone was attached to the building with iron set in lead. At great expanse the stone was removed and reattached using 316 grade stainless and resin.

The present Lord Belmore still retains the family wine cellar in the house, situated in the basement of the house it is equipped with a massive iron door which is surmounted by a carved effigy of Bacchus god of wine.

Across the lawn is Lough Coole where greylag geese have nested for the last 300 years.

The Lords Belmore have a triple barrel surname "Armar Lowry-Corry" these names represented the three components of the estates, passing via both male and female heirs, an explanation of which would be as tedious as it would be boring. Armar the church lands in Fermanagh, Lowry the estate in Tyrone, and Corry the rest of his Fermanagh estate and his country seat.

The family also owned land in Longford, Monaghan, Armagh and Dublin as well as Tyrone and Fermanagh, land held during the period when the estate was owned by the 1st Earl of Belmore were as follow.

  • The Fermanagh estate 7,140 acres
  • Church land leased from the Bishop of Clogher.14,900 acres
  • The Longford estate 4,647 acres
  • The Tyrone estate 41,448 acres
  • Making a total of 68,135 Acres

In 1798 the properties had a combined yearly rental income of £12,795. Despite this the family fortunes began a steady decline, in 1802, the Belmore's estate debt amounted to £133,000, of which about £70,000 was attributed to the building of Castle Coole. The outlaying estates being sold off first, the famine of 1845-48 adversely affected the profitability of estates, the majority of the remaining property was disposed of under the encumbered estates act of 1848.

The present castle was designed by James Wyatt and built between1789 and 1795 on the site of an earlier plantation castle, for Armar Lowry Corry, later Earl of Belmore, it was intended to out do Florence Court ten miles away, built some years earlier for Belmore's brother in law the Earl of Enniskillen

Castle Coole House is faced with Portland stone shipped from Dorset to Ballyshannon and from there by bullock cart to Lower Lough Erne and then by barge to Enniskillen. The house has a lavish oval saloon with mahogany doors inlaid with satin wood curved to follow the outline of the room, the ceiling has exceptionally fine plaster work, by Joseph Rose.

The scagliola pillars in the hall are by Dominic Bartoli, and statuary by the English sculptor Richard Westmacott. Upstairs is a lobby which is lit by three domed sky lights, this area is heated by iron stoves set in niche's their chimneys hidden in hollow columns above.

Castle Coole

Enniskillen
Co Fermanagh
BT74 6JY
Tel +44 (0)28 6632 2690
E Mail
Web Site

Recently (January 2012) the National Trust decided despite widespread opposition from the people of Enniskillen, near which Castle Coole is located to impose a charge of 2£ per adult and 1£ per child over the age of 5 to walk in the grounds of Castle Coole.

In these times of financial austerity it seems more than a little unreasonable that an origination which it would appear has many million of £'s on deposit deem it necessary to extract funds from people, the majority of whom in all probability can ill afford them.

To find out more about Castle Coole House and what the Castle Coole Estate have to offer visit the Castle Coole page on The National Trust web site.