21 Oct Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
Enniskillen (Inis Ceitleann, Ceithle’s Island) the capital of County Fermanagh illustrates very well the long, neat, narrow street of the Northern Irish agricultural town. It stands on the winding River Erne between Upper and Lower Lough Erne. At this strategic bridge head the Maguires, turbulent Lords of Fermanagh, built their castle, and the remains of the 15th century keep may still be seen. In the 16th century, when the Lord Deputy of Ireland sent word that he was about to send a Sheriff into the district the Maguire replied that “Her majesty’s would be received; but at the same time he desired to know his eric – the fine to be imposed on his murder.” The Maguire stronghold was confiscated by the Crown in the following century and awarded to Sir William Cole who settled it with 20 English families and defended it in the war of 1641. The town continued to be stubbornly disputed, and in 1689 the Garrison decisively defeated an attacking Jacobite force of twice its number. Song and story have ever since celebrated 2 of the oldest and most famous of British regiments, the Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Inniskilling Dragoons – The Skins – who’s home-link is with Enniskillen. At the Battle of the Boyne (1690) William of Orange led he ould Skins in person. “Gentleman,” he said, at the height of the Battle, “you shall be my guards this day. I have heard much of you.” Tradition says that, earlier, the Jacobite troops had almost surprised the sleeping troops of William when suddenly a little bird alighted on the drum of an Inniskilling lad and proceeded to tap out the alarm which saved the day. How neatly tradition telescopes the Skin and the drum-skin!
Enniskillen dominates one of the loveliest lakes in Europe on whose shore is the famous Portora Royal School where Oscar Wilde was educated.
Enniskillen is a must see attraction, well worth a visit on your tours of Ireland.