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Lough Erne.

In County Fermanagh.

Lough Erne.

(Lake of the Erni)

Lough Erne is sixty miles long and up to six miles wide, there are 154 islands on the Lough. For the fisherman, bird watcher or those addicted to motor cruising the Lough is a veritable paradise, it is the most un congested waterway in Europe. The upper Lough at 26 miles long has been known in times of high winds induce the dreaded Mal de mare, the lower Lough is much shallower and narrower but with many more islands, the channels are well marked so navigation is quite easy, although a chart is useful to have.

There are several company's offering cruisers to hire, these are well equipped and there are plenty of public jetties, and small marinas, to tie up for the night many of these have waterside shops. In 1994 the Shannon-Erne Waterway, was restored and reopened making it possible to cruise the Shannon as far as Limerick. The Shannon Erne waterway is now the longest navigable inland waterway in Europe. If you have a day cruiser and would like to cruise the area, you might consider using one of the bed and breakfast establishments in the locality as a base.

The information below is reprinted from Samuel Lewis' Topographicla Directory of Ireland printed in 1837.

Of the two lakes, the northern or lower, between Belleek and Enniskillen, is the larger, being upwards of 20 miles in length, and 7½ in its greatest breadth ; the southern or upper, between the latter town and Belturbet, is 12 miles long by 4½ broad. Both are studded with numerous islands, which in some parts of the upper lake are clustered so closely together as to present the appearance rather of a flooded country than of a spacious lake.

It is a popular opinion that the number of these islands equals that of the days in the year ; but accurate investigation has ascertained that there are 109 in the lower lake, and 90 in the upper. The largest is Bo or Cow island, near the northern extremity of the upper lake ; it takes its name from being mostly under pasture. Ennismacsaint, also in the upper lake, is noted for a burying-ground, which is held in great veneration ; Devenish island, in the same lake, near Enniskillen, is particularly remarkable for its ancient round tower and other relics of antiquity, all of which are described in the article on the parish of that name.

The other more remarkable islands in this division are Eagle, Innisnakill, and Gully, all richly wooded ; Cor and Ferney, mostly under pasture, and Herring island, said to derive its name from the quantities of fresh-water herring found near its shores. Innismore, the largest island in the upper lake, forms part of the two nearest parishes on the main land. Belleisle has long been celebrated for its natural beauties, which were much heightened by the judicious improvements they received when it was the residence of the Earl of Rosse: it is connected with the main land by an elegant bridge.

Near it is Lady Rosse's island, so called from the improvements bestowed on it by that lady. Knockninny was used as a deer-park by the nobleman just named. In descending the lake from Belturbet, the first two miles present the appearance of a large river winding through the county without any striking features to arrest attention ; but as the lake widens, a succession of rich and picturesque views opens upon the eye.

The banks on each side, as well as the islands that present themselves in rapid succession, are clothed with stately timber, which rises boldly from the water's edge, occasionally interrupted by sweeps of low marsh overgrown with rushes and enlivened by herons and other aquatic fowl. After narrowing in to the strait of Enniskillen , and expanding again into a still wider sheet of water in the lower lake, it is finally contracted into a river which quits the county at the village of Belleek in a magnificent fall. The lakes called Lough Melvin, Lough Macnean, and Lough Kane, which form part of the boundary between Fermanagh and Leitrim, may be considered as partly belonging to the former county.

Information about the Erne Waterway.