A pleasant, conservative little town, ENNISKILLEN sits on an island like an ornamental buckle, the two narrow ribbons of water that pass each side connecting the Lower and Upper lough complexes. The strategic strength of this position has long been recognized – indeed, the town takes its name from Innis Ceithleann, “the island of Kathleen”, wife of Balor, who sought refuge here after a defeat in battle. Later the island became a Maguire stronghold before William Cole, a planter from Cornwall, was appointed governor in 1607. The town played a major role in the 1641 Rebellion and the later Williamite Wars, the latter leading to the formation of its two famous regiments, the Inniskilling Dragoons and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, which played a significant role in the victory at the Battle of the Boyne. However, the name Enniskillen is still often associated with one of the most devastating atrocities of the Troubles: on Remembrance Day 1987, an IRA bomb killed eleven and injured 61 people as they gathered to commemorate the dead of the two world wars. The resulting widespread outrage was instrumental in directing parts of the Republican movement towards seeking a political solution to the Troubles.
Today, Enniskillen is worthy of a day’s visit in its own right, with its castle and proximity to the elegant Castle Coole, plus a town centre relatively unspoilt by shopping developments. It’s also ideally situated as a base for exploring Lough Erne and touring the attractive local countryside.