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Displaying items by tag: Lough Erne

County Fermanagh in the west of Northern Ireland is home to a myriad of loughs and lakes, the largest of which is the well-known Upper and Lower Lough Erne, but one you don’t hear much about is Lough Head near Lisnaskea, the second biggest settlement in the County.

Now the publication of Lough Head Revealed by the Lisnaskea Historical Society serves to tell about the Lough Head in some detail, and it is indeed a revelation. The work is the culmination of much research by several contributors and brings the history of this interesting site to life in a most colourful book. The 164 pages are crammed with fascinating accounts by over 20 authors and is the result of many years of research.

Lough Head Revealed by the Lisnaskea Historical SocietyLough Head Revealed, a new book by the Lisnaskea Historical Society

The first chapter is written by Archaeologist Dr Paul Logue and called Lough Head, Co. Fermanagh, and its Landscape of Gaelic Lordship sets the scene. The area around Lough Head is often linked with the Chief of the Name of the Irish clan Maguire, the anglicised version of Aodh Mag Uidhir, who was Lord of Fermanagh during the reign of Elizabeth 1. Maguire was targeted during the English conquest of Ireland, and most of the Maguire lands were confiscated and then largely colonised by English settlers and lowland Scots.

Lough Head near Lisnaskea in County Fermanagh Courtesy Google EarthLough Head near Lisnaskea in County Fermanagh Courtesy Google Earth

Well before the coming of roads and railways, personal and commercial transport was by water, and the Erne was always known as The Highway of the West. The Lough Head quay, built in 1842 served as a station for trade boats of the Ulster Canal which connected Lough Erne with Lough Neagh and the Lagan and Newry Canals in the eastern counties of Ulster. Before the arrival of the railways, practically everything was shipped to and from Fermanagh by the Ulster Canal. The small river that flows out of the Lough Head is called Creeve River - it connects Lough Head to Kilmore Lough, which flows into the Colebrooke River and on into Upper Lough Erne. It's approximately two miles from Lough Head Quay to the Upper Lough. The Creeve is now only navigable in winter when the water level is high.

The Vikings probably ventured into it during the 9th and 10th centuries; following their raids of Devenish Island, they sailed to Clones, so they had to pass what is now known as the Colebrooke River, which connects to the Lough Head to the Erne.

There is evidence to suggest that the Lough Head area was used by even earlier travellers, as there was a log boat found in the nearby Colebrooke River that dates from the pre-Christian era. It is believed that the Lough Head was used as a "pagan passage" from Cornashee, where the Maguires were crowned as kings and chiefs of Fermanagh and  Knockninny, an ancient megalithic site. Both are within sight of each other.

The fascinating articles ranging from personal reflections on life in the area to poetry, the natural flora and fauna which existed before the Middle Ages -  sure to interest readers both local and further afield. Much of what is presented in this attractively bound and colourful book has never been seen in print before.

Brian Osborne of Lough Erne Heritage said “No words can express our gratitude towards Linda Swindle, the editor, who laboured tirelessly over these past couple of years to compile the varied articles contained within this book.  Lough Head Revealed truly is a revelation and I can assure you, will open many people's eyes as to the significance of this historic corner of Lisnaskea.”

The book costs £12 and is available from McBrien's newsagents in Lisnaskea. 

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The RNLI’s new inland lifeboat station on Lower Lough Erne is complete and fully operational.

The station team at Enniskillen RNLI are now looking for new volunteers to join the crew in several roles including lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authorities and fundraisers.

After being housed in temporary accommodation for 21 years, volunteers at Enniskillen were handed the keys to their new state-of-the-art building on the Killadeas Road at Gublusk earlier this month.

The modern purpose-built lifeboat station is located close to the lough to allow for an efficient launch of its inshore lifeboat.

And the station — which also houses the associated launching tractor and equipment, full crew changing facilities, a workshop, office and training room — will be officially opened at a special ceremony next year.

The build, which took little over a year to complete, was carried out by Omagh-based company Woodvale Construction and handed over to the RNLI on Friday 4 November.

A generous contribution towards the cost of the build was made by the daughter of the late Alfred Russell Wallace Weir from Bangor in Co Down, in his memory.

The building is designed with a heating system which allows the heat to be drawn from the ground, keeping the temperature at an ambient 16C inside. The excess is used to heat the water for showering, washing up and cleaning the vessels. The building is also fitted with solar panels on the roof to generate electricity.

In 2001, Enniskillen became home to the RNLI’s first inland lifeboat station based on Lower Lough Erne.

Due to the overall size and complexity of the lough and its high leisure usage, the decision was taken by the RNLI in 2002 to base a second lifeboat on the upper lough at Carrybridge that would work in conjunction with the original lifeboat station on the lower lough at Killadeas.

Last year Enniskillen RNLI launched 33 times, bringing 73 people to safety.

Enniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat in its new boat shed | Credit: RNLI/Rogan WheeldonEnniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat in its new boat shed | Credit: RNLI/Rogan Wheeldon

Speaking following the handover of the new building to the RNLI, area lifesaving manager Rogan Wheeldon said he was delighted that the station was now complete.

“From the outset, we wanted to build a modern station with full crew facilities with areas for the crew to change and train and space to keep their lifeboat and lifesaving kit safe,” he said. “We now have those facilities and are very happy to be in a position to take over the new lifeboat station and are delighted with both the design and quality of the building.”

Gary Jones, Enniskillen RNLI lifeboat operations manager said the new station was what the crew deserved and is “a testament of the RNLI’s commitment and dedication to the community here locally and a credit to the efforts of our crew in continuing to bring people to safety on Lough Erne”.

He added: “Our volunteers had an opportunity to be shown around their new station and they are overwhelmed with the structure and facilities that they now have when they come together for call outs and training. We would like to thank everyone who has helped us to get to this stage.

“Now that we have our new building, we are keen to have new volunteers join our team. If you are interested in becoming lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authority or helping in another officer capacity or with fundraising, please contact us to find out more about how you can be involved and help us to continue to save lives on Lough Erne.”

To find out more about how you can volunteer at Enniskillen RNLI, get in touch with Gary at [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI’s new inland lifeboat station on Lower Lough Erne is complete and fully operational.

The station team is now looking for new volunteers to join the crew in several roles, including lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authorities and fundraisers.

After been housed in temporary accommodation for 21 years, volunteers at Enniskillen RNLI were handed the keys to their new state-of-the-art building on the Killadeas Road at Gublusk earlier this month.

The modern purpose-built lifeboat station is close to the lough to allow for an efficient launch of its inshore lifeboat. The station, which also houses the associated launching tractor and equipment, full crew changing facilities, a workshop, office, and training room, will officially open at a special ceremony next year.

The build, which took little over a year to complete, was carried out by the Omagh-based company, Woodvale Construction, and handed over to the RNLI on Friday, 4 November.

Inside Enniskillen RNLI's new lifeboat stationInside Enniskillen RNLI's new lifeboat station

In his memory, the daughter of the late Alfred Russell Wallace Weir from Bangor in county Down made a generous contribution towards the cost of the build.

The building is designed with a heating system which allows the heat to be drawn from the ground and produced inside keeping the temperature at an ambient 16 degrees Celsius. The excess is used to heat the water for showering, washing up and cleaning the vessels. The building is also fitted with solar panels on the roof to generate electricity.

In 2001, Enniskillen became home to the RNLI’s first inland lifeboat station based on Lower Lough Erne.

Due to the overall size and complexity of the lough and its high leisure usage, the decision was taken by the RNLI in 2002 to base a second lifeboat on the upper lough at Carrybridge that would work in conjunction with the original lifeboat station on the lower lough at Killadeas.

Last year, Enniskillen RNLI launched 33 times, bringing 73 people to safety.

Speaking following the handover of the new building to the RNLI, Rogan Wheeldon, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said he was delighted that the station was now complete: ‘From the outset, we wanted to build a modern station with full crew facilities with areas for the crew to change and train and space to keep their lifeboat and lifesaving kit safe. We now have those facilities and are very happy to be in a position to take over the new lifeboat station and are delighted with both the design and quality of the building.’

Enniskillen RNLI's new lifeboat stationEnniskillen RNLI's new lifeboat station

Gary Jones, Enniskillen RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said the new station was what the crew deserved: ‘The new station is a testament of the RNLI’s commitment and dedication to the community here locally and a credit to the efforts of our crew in continuing to bring people to safety on Lough Erne. Our volunteers had an opportunity to be shown around their new station, and they are overwhelmed with the structure and facilities they now have when they come together for call-outs and training. We would like to thank everyone who helped us get to this stage.

‘Now that we have our new building, we are keen to have new volunteers join our team. If you are interested in becoming lifeboat crew, shore crew, deputy launching authority or helping in another officer capacity or with fundraising, please contact us to learn more about how you can be involved and help us continue to save lives on Lough Erne.’

To find out more about how you can volunteer at Enniskillen RNLI, please email [email protected]

Published in Inland Waterways
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Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels and waterway users on the Erne System that the Fours Head of The River Rowing Race, organised by Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, will take place on Saturday 19 November.

The race will start at Inishkeen (downstream of Bellanaleck) at 9am and finish at Enniskillen Royal Boat Club in Northern Ireland at 4pm.

All masters of vessels are asked to ensure that the course is kept clear during racing and adhere to all marshals’ and organisers’ requests throughout the race day.

Published in Inland Waterways

The body of a man reported missing on Lough Erne last month has been recovered, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Michael McGirr of Co Fermanagh was last seen on Saturday 29 October on a boat heading in the direction of Inish Davar on Lower Lough Erne.

His boat was found empty the following day as a multi-agency search operation was under way.

On Saturday afternoon (12 November) a member of the McGirr family confirmed on social media that a body recovered from the lough by police was identified as Michael, and they thanked the community for their help.

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Upon Reflection is an appropriate name for another resurrected Mirror dinghy which has found a new home at Lough Erne Yacht Club.

It’s not often boats are the subject of an exchange deal, but that is what happened when Paul de Fleury got his hands on a very old Mirror dinghy, for which Lough Erne YC gifted a GP 14, and it is now sailing on Upper Lough Erne.

It seems it is a couple of years older than the other Mirror restored by Brian Osborne and now sailing on Lough Erne. This one, sail number 29429 and apparently built in 1971 was at Newtownards Sailing Club, and as NSC is a GP14 stronghold, it seemed sensible to exchange it for a surplus Lough Erne YC GP 14.

No.29429 was fully refurbished by Mark and Paul de Fleury in their garage in Carrickfergus and apparently, it took longer than had been hoped owing to the Covid outbreak. And although the hull, mast and spars were in a reasonable state for its age, it did need new sails.

Michael Brines of Lough Erne Yacht Club tells me the Mirror is owned by the club and is regularly used for training in Goblusk Bay on the eastern shore of the Lower Lough. Michael’s son Peter and daughter Emma are hoping to compete in Upon Reflection at the Mirror Worlds in Sligo in July next year.

Published in Mirror

An Omagh man who was rescued by the Irish Coast Guard after he was caught in a rip current off a Donegal beach in July has completed the Dublin Marathon in his bare feet to raise awareness of water safety and to raise funds for the RNLI.

A seasoned open water swimmer, Chris Gallagher was visiting Murder Hole Beach when he got caught in a rip current.

“I am an experienced swimmer, having previously been a lifeguard and a world record swimmer as well as swimming all over the world including in Australia but I have never been caught like this before,” he said of his ordeal.

“I wasn’t even 10 metres out into the water when the ferocious rip caught me and threw me about like what I can only describe as being in an industrial washing machine and a racing car at the same time, it was powerful, and I had absolutely no control.

“I felt calm initially as I know how to work my way out of a rip curl as I was caught in Australian waters 22 years ago but nothing I tried worked.

“By the grace of God, a rock was in my grasp as I was being pulled into the rip roaring waters and I managed to get my body out of the water onto that wee rock but I was fighting the waves to stay on as they threw me on and off like a rag doll. I was clinging to the rock for dear life for two hours.”

Given the conditions, the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was tasked to the scene and rescued Gallagher from the water.

‘I am an experienced swimmer…but I have never been caught like this before’

Since he was rescued, Gallagher has signed up to be a water safety volunteer with the RNLI with a particular interest in highlighting the dangers of open water swimming.

He has also taken part in a series of inspiring fundraising events with his most recent venture to not only undertake the Dublin Marathon but to do it in his bare feet, which he completed successfully last Sunday (30 October). He also completed the Kerry Hardman Ironman triathlon on his birthday in August and in September a 5k swim of Glencar Lough in Sligo.

To round off his series of events, he is running an Eighties-themed night this Saturday 5 November in the Village Inn in Killyclogher. Proceeds from all events will go to Bundoran RNLI and Lough Erne’s two RNLI lifeboat stations, at Enniskillen and Carrybridge in Northern Ireland.

Speaking of Gallagher’s efforts to raise both funds and water safety awareness, RNLI community manager Nuala Muldoon said: “Chris really is an inspiration and his own rescue story highlights how even the most experienced water users can still find themselves in difficulty.

“We are delighted that he is now promoting water safety and are in awe at how adventurous he has been in setting himself courageous challenges in his pursuit to raise funds.

“Thanks to Chris, the proceeds raised will now power our lifesaving volunteer crews to continue their good work in saving lives both at sea and on inland waters.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Carrybridge RNLI helms Chris Cathcart and David Reid have served 20 years rescuing those on trouble on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

During a recent visit to the station by the RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie, they were presented with medals to thank them for their volunteering service.

Over the past 20 years since the lifeboat station was formed on Upper Lough Erne, Chris and David have been involved in hundreds of rescues involving a wide variety of callouts.

Between the two volunteers, they have attended all manner of shouts on Lough Erne including to people, boats and also stranded animals in distress.

In addition to the helm role, Chris is the lifeboat training coordinator and press officer while David is the inshore lifeboat/launch and recovery plant mechanic. Both are also casualty carers and shore crew.

At a presentation held at the end of the summer, Lord Erne presented 17 of the Carrybridge volunteers with the late Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. The commemorative medal was created to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and awarded to those crew who had served more than five years with the charity.

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI praised Chris and David on their fantastic achievement.

“Chris and David carry a pager at all times and when the alarm goes off whether it be day or night, summer or winter both can be relied upon to respond to go to those in need,” he said. “It was a privilege for the volunteers to also be presented with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal by Lord Erne and his wife.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise masters of vessels on the inland waterways that as of Friday September, Corradillar Jetty on Upper Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh is closed until further notice for repair works.

Published in Inland Waterways

Carrybridge RNLI received an unusual request this past Wednesday afternoon (24 August) to assist a cow stranded in the waters of the Erne south of Enniskillen.

The animal was reported by a member of the public to be in the water distressed unable to get out in the area of Tamlaght Bay, between Upper and Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew located the cow which was close to the shoreline but seemed stuck and unable to make it ashore.

Moving closer with care so as not to spook the animal, the crew found that the cow was stick deep in mud with most of her body submerged in the water.

The local PSNI, who were also on Lough Erne that afternoon, arrived on scene to offer their assistance. Both the volunteer lifeboat crew and the PSNI attempted numerous times to assist the cow back to the shoreline but to no avail.

Due to the animal becoming very tired and weak, and starting to shiver, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) were also requested to attend to offer further help using some of its specialist equipment.

Enquires to locate the owner were made, during which time the lifeboat crew spotted a local farmer feeding animals in another field and made approached him. This farmer was able to alert the cow’s owner.

The NIFRS arrived on scene at the same time as the owner of the cow. The farmer checked the wellbeing of the animal and then set up a halter to assist in the abstraction of the cow from the mud to the shoreline.

The cow was then successfully brought ashore, and after a couple of shaky attempts stood up and proceeded to feed on the grass.

Her owner noted that the cow seemed to be in good health after her ordeal, and with some rest should be back to normal again. He also passed on his thanks to all involved in the rescue.

Speaking following the callout, Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI said: “I would like to thank the member of the public who raised the alarm, as no one likes to see animals of any kind in danger.

“The swift response by the multi agencies today meant that this callout had a successful outcome for both the cow and the farmer.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Ireland's offshore islands

Around 30 of Ireland's offshore islands are inhabited and hold a wealth of cultural heritage.

A central Government objective is to ensure that sustainable vibrant communities continue to live on the islands.

Irish offshore islands FAQs

Technically, it is Ireland itself, as the third largest island in Europe.

Ireland is surrounded by approximately 80 islands of significant size, of which only about 20 are inhabited.

Achill island is the largest of the Irish isles with a coastline of almost 80 miles and has a population of 2,569.

The smallest inhabited offshore island is Inishfree, off Donegal.

The total voting population in the Republic's inhabited islands is just over 2,600 people, according to the Department of Housing.

Starting with west Cork, and giving voting register numbers as of 2020, here you go - Bere island (177), Cape Clear island (131),Dursey island (6), Hare island (29), Whiddy island (26), Long island, Schull (16), Sherkin island (95). The Galway islands are Inis Mór (675), Inis Meáin (148), Inis Oírr (210), Inishbofin (183). The Donegal islands are Arranmore (513), Gola (30), Inishboffin (63), Inishfree (4), Tory (140). The Mayo islands, apart from Achill which is connected by a bridge, are Clare island (116), Inishbiggle (25) and Inishturk (52).

No, the Gaeltacht islands are the Donegal islands, three of the four Galway islands (Inishbofin, like Clifden, is English-speaking primarily), and Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire in west Cork.

Lack of a pier was one of the main factors in the evacuation of a number of islands, the best known being the Blasket islands off Kerry, which were evacuated in November 1953. There are now three cottages available to rent on the Great Blasket island.

In the early 20th century, scholars visited the Great Blasket to learn Irish and to collect folklore and they encouraged the islanders to record their life stories in their native tongue. The three best known island books are An tOileánach (The Islandman) by Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig by Peig Sayers, and Fiche Blian ag Fás (Twenty Years A-Growing) by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Former taoiseach Charles J Haughey also kept a residence on his island, Inishvickillaune, which is one of the smaller and less accessible Blasket islands.

Charles J Haughey, as above, or late Beatle musician, John Lennon. Lennon bought Dorinish island in Clew Bay, south Mayo, in 1967 for a reported £1,700 sterling. Vendor was Westport Harbour Board which had used it for marine pilots. Lennon reportedly planned to spend his retirement there, and The Guardian newspaper quoted local estate agent Andrew Crowley as saying he was "besotted with the place by all accounts". He did lodge a planning application for a house, but never built on the 19 acres. He offered it to Sid Rawle, founder of the Digger Action Movement and known as the "King of the Hippies". Rawle and 30 others lived there until 1972 when their tents were burned by an oil lamp. Lennon and Yoko Ono visited it once more before his death in 1980. Ono sold the island for £30,000 in 1984, and it is widely reported that she donated the proceeds of the sale to an Irish orphanage

 

Yes, Rathlin island, off Co Antrim's Causeway Coast, is Ireland's most northerly inhabited island. As a special area of conservation, it is home to tens of thousands of sea birds, including puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. It is known for its Rathlin golden hare. It is almost famous for the fact that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, retreated after being defeated by the English at Perth and hid in a sea cave where he was so inspired by a spider's tenacity that he returned to defeat his enemy.

No. The Aran islands have a regular ferry and plane service, with ferries from Ros-a-Mhíl, south Connemara all year round and from Doolin, Co Clare in the tourist season. The plane service flies from Indreabhán to all three islands. Inishbofin is connected by ferry from Cleggan, Co Galway, while Clare island and Inishturk are connected from Roonagh pier, outside Louisburgh. The Donegal islands of Arranmore and Tory island also have ferry services, as has Bere island, Cape Clear and Sherkin off Cork. How are the island transport services financed? The Government subsidises transport services to and from the islands. The Irish Coast Guard carries out medical evacuations, as to the RNLI lifeboats. Former Fianna Fáíl minister Éamon Ó Cuív is widely credited with improving transport services to and from offshore islands, earning his department the nickname "Craggy island".

Craggy Island is an bleak, isolated community located of the west coast, inhabited by Irish, a Chinese community and one Maori. Three priests and housekeeper Mrs Doyle live in a parochial house There is a pub, a very small golf course, a McDonald's fast food restaurant and a Chinatown... Actually, that is all fiction. Craggy island is a figment of the imagination of the Father Ted series writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, for the highly successful Channel 4 television series, and the Georgian style parochial house on the "island" is actually Glenquin House in Co Clare.

Yes, that is of the Plassey, a freighter which was washed up on Inis Oírr in bad weather in 1960.

There are some small privately owned islands,and islands like Inishlyre in Co Mayo with only a small number of residents providing their own transport. Several Connemara islands such as Turbot and Inishturk South have a growing summer population, with some residents extending their stay during Covid-19. Turbot island off Eyrephort is one such example – the island, which was first spotted by Alcock and Brown as they approached Ireland during their epic transatlantic flight in 1919, was evacuated in 1978, four years after three of its fishermen drowned on the way home from watching an All Ireland final in Clifden. However, it is slowly being repopulated

Responsibility for the islands was taking over by the Department of Rural and Community Development . It was previously with the Gaeltacht section in the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

It is a periodic bone of contention, as Ireland does not have the same approach to its islands as Norway, which believes in right of access. However, many improvements were made during Fianna Fáíl Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív's time as minister. The Irish Island Federation, Comdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, represents island issues at national and international level.

The 12 offshore islands with registered voters have long argued that having to cast their vote early puts them at a disadvantage – especially as improved transport links mean that ballot boxes can be transported to the mainland in most weather conditions, bar the winter months. Legislation allowing them to vote on the same day as the rest of the State wasn't passed in time for the February 2020 general election.

Yes, but check tide tables ! Omey island off north Connemara is accessible at low tide and also runs a summer race meeting on the strand. In Sligo, 14 pillars mark the way to Coney island – one of several islands bearing this name off the Irish coast.

Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire is the country's most southerly inhabited island, eight miles off the west Cork coast, and within sight of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, also known as the "teardrop of Ireland".
Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast, which has a monastic site dating from the 6th century. It is accessible by boat – prebooking essential – from Portmagee, Co Kerry. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was not open to visitors in 2020.
All islands have bird life, but puffins and gannets and kittiwakes are synonymous with Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Rathlin island off Antrim and Cape Clear off west Cork have bird observatories. The Saltee islands off the Wexford coast are privately owned by the O'Neill family, but day visitors are permitted access to the Great Saltee during certain hours. The Saltees have gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters.
Vikings used Dublin as a European slaving capital, and one of their bases was on Dalkey island, which can be viewed from Killiney's Vico road. Boat trips available from Coliemore harbour in Dalkey. Birdwatch Ireland has set up nestboxes here for roseate terns. Keep an eye out also for feral goats.
Plenty! There are regular boat trips in summer to Inchagoill island on Lough Corrib, while the best known Irish inshore island might be the lake isle of Innisfree on Sligo's Lough Gill, immortalised by WB Yeats in his poem of the same name. Roscommon's Lough Key has several islands, the most prominent being the privately-owned Castle Island. Trinity island is more accessible to the public - it was once occupied by Cistercian monks from Boyle Abbey.

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