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Newly Built Traditional Lough Erne Cots Launched at Enniskillen Castle

28th July 2022
Eric Cathcart cuts the ribbon as the Lough Erne Cots are launched at Enniskillen Castle
Eric Cathcart cuts the ribbon as the Lough Erne Cots are launched at Enniskillen Castle Credit: Donnie Phair

The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership focuses on the conservation and promotion of Lough Erne’s landscape character and unique heritage, and it recently celebrated, along with the Belleek Men’s Shed and West Island Cot Heritage Group, the launch of community-built traditional Lough Erne Cots at Enniskillen Castle Museum. Both groups are located in the west of Lower Lough Erne in Co. Fermanagh.

Cots are flat-bottomed keel-less boats with rising ends, said to make driving them ashore easy and they served the people of the Erne system with its myriad of islands, for close on one thousand years until the early 20th century when bridges spelt the death knell for cots. Until then, the Lough Erne Cot was the preferred mode of transport.

The new Lough Erne Cots Photo Donnie PhairThe new Cots afloat at Lough Erne Photo Donnie Phair

The event also honoured and celebrated the contribution of the late Fred Ternan (LELP Board Member), acknowledging his involvement in the heritage sector of the Lough Erne region.

The Ternan family (sitting) Michael, Florence and Edwina with the cot builders from the Belleek Mens Shed and West Island Heritage Cot Group Photo Donnie PhairThe Ternan family (sitting) Michael, Florence and Edwina with the cot builders from the Belleek Mens Shed and West Island Heritage Cot Group Photo Donnie Phair

In 2015, a community group called Lough Erne Heritage was formed with a constitution and trustees whose aims were to promote and preserve the history and heritage of wooden boats on and around the entire River Erne system, as told in Afloat here

Work would concentrate mainly on the traditional boats, the log boat (coite) or dugout canoe, the Lough Erne Cot and the traditional Lough Erne Clinker-built rowing boat.

And two years ago, the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership started a community project to build traditional Fermanagh cots using designs by the late Fred Ternan and his brother George, and led by Fred and Liam Boyle, the Belleek Men’s Shed and West Island Cot Heritage Group undertook the building of the cots.

Liam Boyle with passengersLiam Boyle with passengers in one of the new Cots Photo: Donnie Phair

Eric Cathcart, whose family has lived on West Island, Belle Isle for three generations, cut the ribbon at the launch of the hand-built cots and guests had the opportunity to experience rowing a cot round Castle Island. Eric himself built cots on West Island.

Belleek Regatta on 10th July celebrated 200 years of Fermanagh cot racing and remembered the life of Fred Ternan whose vision of perpetuating cot building on Lough Erne came to fruition with the launch of the newly built traditional cots.

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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