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The Erne's Lough Head is Revealed in New Book

11th December 2022
An artist's impression of Lough Head through the ages from a new book by Lisnaskea Historical Society
An artist's impression of Lough Head through the ages from a new book by Lisnaskea Historical Society

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. 

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

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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